Removable screened bottom boards
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Follansbee, WV, USA
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    91

    Default Removable screened bottom boards

    Can anyone give some insight on removable screened bottoms? I built my hive bottoms with a fixed screened bottom and removable solid bottom and sticky boards. I'm seriously considering changing the design to allow the screened bottom to be removed from the back of the hive during OAV treatments. If I do that, I could then 1.Treat from the rear of the hive. 2. Reduce the risk of burning the queen by lowering the wand further from the bottom of the frames. 3. Reduce the risk of fire in the hives. 4. Eliminate the potential damage the acid may cause to the screen. 5. Allow the screens to be cleaned regularly to prevent debris build-up.
    Last edited by SmokeyHill; 04-25-2018 at 02:57 AM. Reason: Wording

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    5,534

    Default Re: Removable screened bottom boards

    When I first read your description what came to mind is a screened bottom panel with sturdy edges that could just be slid in to the hive when you wanted to do so, and honestly, and I thought: what a fantastic idea! Similar in some ways to a metal-edged queen excluder.

    Although I have to say one of your concerns, OAVing from the front, is nothing that is ever an issue for me at all. I even use a ProVap from the front, by choice. Bees don't care.

    I solve the height of chamber issue (risk to queen, frames, potential scorching risk) by always using a 2" high shim between my bottom assembly and the lowest box. It also provides me with most of the benefits of a slatted bottom board, at a fraction of the cost.

    I slip a thin sheet of metal (a cookie sheet in its former life) in on top of the screen to protect it during OAV, and also to capture evidence of an incomplete or otherwise unsatisfactory burn.

    But to be able to slip the screen bottom board panel out completely for examination and then dumping off any debris would make me a very happy beekeeper. And it would eliminate a risk to the bees that sometimes results in killing them when I am fishing around in there to clean it out.

    I am thinking of some kind sturdy-rimmed screen panel that slides in and maybe drops down on to rabbets in the side and back walls. In the front there's a rabbet in the front entrance deck (obviously interior to the boxes) as well, but perhaps with a pair of halfmoon depressions that allow one to stick a hive tool edge in to lever up the front edge of the removable screen panel and pull it out for maintenance.

    I. Love. It!

    The only technical issue that I can see is managing to keep the bees out of the space below whenever the screen panel is temporarily out for maintenance, so may be a solid, thin (metal?) temp bottom gets slid in first, blocking the entrance to the space below the screen panel while it's out?

    Nancy

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Verona, NJ, USA
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Removable screened bottom boards

    I use the Betterbee varroa screen (the one with the cafeteria tray) over a solid bottom board, and this combo enables me to treat OAV from the rear, and also monitor mite drop and other hive activity from looking at the tray. It works well for me.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,534

    Default Re: Removable screened bottom boards

    @Castlebar

    All of my equipment is from Betterbee, and exactly like yours. Except I don't use the trays which I think are too-small to capture all of the debris leading to undercounts of varroa and a mess around the trays on the solid floor.

    OAVing up through your screen will be hard on the screen due to acid corrosion of the galvanizing, and the screen is difficult to replace without trashing the board. It also is less successful in cold weather when the screen acts as a condensation plane and interferes with the plume.

    I don't really understand the desire to OAV from the rear of the hive. I have never seen any distress, or problems doing it from the front.

    The only other change that I make to my Betterbee stack is to turn the bottom (solid) board around in the winter so the slot faces forward to enable easy, unimpeded checking of the sticky board (or tray) during the winter if you plan to insulate your stack. My insulation runs from the top to the base of the stand on the sides and back. It would be (and was, the first - and only -year I had it set up that way) a pain to have to remove insulation just to do a weekly sticky board. Any front insulation ends at the tops of the front entrance rails, leaving anything below the screened bottom board uninsulated, and so a front-facing slot is not a problem. And with the bees mostly inside during the winter there isn't any issue with flying bees being in the way of pulling and re-inserting boards as there would be in the summer.

    You'll need different sizes of physical slot barriers if you use the slot in both summer and winter configs. When I am lazy tape works for the front winter one, but the back one always has a piece of either wood or XPS foam, covered with tape for draft protection and then with 1/4" hardware cloth stapled over it to keep out mice and shrews. (Even if they can't get into the hive above, I don't want to hahve clean up their foul messes in the sprng.) For some reason, simple 3-M Original Blue painters' tape seems to keep mice out of the front-facing slot all winter, perhaps just because it is so exposed.

    Nancy

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Follansbee, WV, USA
    Posts
    91

    Default Re: Removable screened bottom boards

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    When I first read your description what came to mind is a screened bottom panel with sturdy edges that could just be slid in to the hive when you wanted to do so, and honestly, and I thought: what a fantastic idea! Similar in some ways to a metal-edged queen excluder.

    But to be able to slip the screen bottom board panel out completely for examination and then dumping off any debris would make me a very happy beekeeper. And it would eliminate a risk to the bees that sometimes results in killing them when I am fishing around in there to clean it out.

    The only technical issue that I can see is managing to keep the bees out of the space below whenever the screen panel is temporarily out for maintenance, so may be a solid, thin (metal?) temp bottom gets slid in first, blocking the entrance to the space below the screen panel while it's out?

    Nancy
    This is just exactly what I'm talking about. I'm not worried about entrapping bees when the screen is removed because my solid bottom board under the screen is also removable. It would only be a matter of shooing any wayward bees out of there.
    My current design will work for this. It's simply a matter of extending two dado cuts before assembly. I want to make two more hives anyway so I'll incorporate the removable screen into the new bottom boards. I have a router bit that will be perfect for making slots for a hive tool.
    I'll post a few pictures when they are done.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
    Posts
    2,138

    Default Re: Removable screened bottom boards

    I think its a great idea and I have been pondering something similar but am planning on using pvc trim boards. My bottom boards are only 2 years old and are starting to separate at the joints and are swelling already. With PVC and stainless screen, I won't have to build any more. Unlike Nancy's bees, my bees do not like me sticking a wand in the front door at all so would love to do from the back door. I have done this and the problem is as Nancy mentioned. J

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,534

    Default Re: Removable screened bottom boards

    @FiveJ,

    How do your bees exhibit their displeasure at being OAVed from the front? Do you smoke them, first? I know you use a Varrox, as do I. Perhaps my bees are more tolerant because I keep that 2" high shim between the lowest box and the base assembly. Though I do plenty of other people's hives that don't have a shim and see no fuss in those cases, either. I wonder what makes the difference?

    I keep my bottom assembly raised above the floor of hive stand with a short length of Metro-style shelving that runs from front to back. It also provides an easy way for me to shift my heavy stacks - there's no way I could move them on my own otherwise. However, compression along the side wires of the shelves has caused indentations in the wood along the bottom.

    Nancy

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Follansbee, WV, USA
    Posts
    91

    Default Re: Removable screened bottom boards

    Quote Originally Posted by Fivej View Post
    I think its a great idea and I have been pondering something similar but am planning on using pvc trim boards. My bottom boards are only 2 years old and are starting to separate at the joints and are swelling already. With PVC and stainless screen, I won't have to build any more. Unlike Nancy's bees, my bees do not like me sticking a wand in the front door at all so would love to do from the back door. I have done this and the problem is as Nancy mentioned. J
    I've been kicking around the idea of using composite decking for the bottom assemblies but the cost is astronomical. A composite bottom board alone wouldn't be too bad. The joints could be drawn together with counter top joint fasteners. There would have to be a protective panel of some sort to prevent damage from the heat of the wand. Perhaps a long handled steel BBQ spatula beaten flat would work.

    Nancy, you use a 2" shim between the bottom assembly and the lowest hive box? Do you ever have problems with the bees drawing comb on the bottom of the frames? That seem like an awfully large space for the industrious little critters to ignore.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Removable screened bottom boards

    I know there's some theoretical risk of it, and very occasionally my bees will pull a little nubbin of comb downwards into that void, but I have never had brood or stores in those little extensions. They seem to function more as ladder combs than anything else.

    But keep in mind I give my bees more real estate than many people do. For instance, I have another similar shim set on top of the uppermost box.

    I think if you are running extremely cramped hives the desperate bees will put comb anywhere they can find space for it. My year-round basic brood box area is three, 10-frame deeps. I almost always have a medium below that as a pollen box, and then I add "supers" above the brood nest for whatever that year's goal may be. Lately my bees and I have been on a deep-frame drawing kick so the "supers" are all 10-frame deeps, too. Plenty of room for any comb they feel the urge to make.

    Nancy

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
    Posts
    2,138

    Default Re: Removable screened bottom boards

    Nancy, I am using the shim like you and do smoke them first, but only a couple puffs until I hear them fanning. They get aggravated as soon as I take off the entrance reducer which is usually stuck pretty good. When I remember, I try to loosen them the day before. Then the guard bees start pinging me and inserting the sheet metal makes more come out. Its not a huge deal but makes it difficult to close it up tightly without squishing a bunch after I insert the varrox. When I open up the entrance, a bunch pile out but at that point I can give them some distance and time to settle down. Unfortunately in the winter, many don't make it back inside before being overcome by the cold. Maybe I need to smoke more, but it sure would be easier on me and the bees from the back. J

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