Screened Botton Boards and a New England Winter
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Lynn, MA
    Posts
    329

    Default Screened Botton Boards and a New England Winter

    I know there are pros and cons with screened bottom boards. Those who like them, LOVE them! Those who don't, HATE them. I understand that. What I'm looking for here today is not replies from people who hate them telling me to get rid of them. I have one, it was one of my 2 most productive hives and it looks like I'll be keeping it on that hive.


    My problem leading to my question is as follows: I was given this screened bottom board and it's appear to be a home made job. So, there is no slot to slide in anything to close it off for the winter. Right above the screened bottom board (if it helps at all) I do have a slatted rack.


    Should I get something like a For Sale sign or a piece of corrugated plastic or even cardboard and just slid it in through the hive entrance and then put the mouse guard back on? I'm assuming the bees won't make it through a New England Winter with a open screened bottom board even with a slatted rack?????

    Thanks?

    Bob
    Lynn, MA

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Gainesboro, Tennessee
    Posts
    1,467

    Default Re: Screened Botton Boards and a New England Winter

    Not sure if they can make it thru open or not there but we always shut the few we have to prevent cold wind from entering in the colony. I prefer solids these days for everything but a few experimental hives. The screen bottoms we have get shut and reduced and overwinter the same as the solid bottoms.... but this is in Tennessee!
    Feeding early patties. https://youtu.be/bUDd3vk7bgY

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    2,777

    Default Re: Screened Botton Boards and a New England Winter

    I don't know how Iowa winters compare with New England winters, but the Iowa study with Russian bees and screened bottoms vs solid bottoms had no difference with overwinter success. The screened bottom board colonies did use about 20% more food during the winter. That was equal to one medium frame of honey.

    If you don't close the screen off, don't use upper ventilation. A closed inner cover is what is needed with screened bottoms. If the adult population is not very strong, I would close off the screen.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Lynn, MA
    Posts
    329

    Default Re: Screened Botton Boards and a New England Winter

    Quote Originally Posted by AR Beekeeper View Post
    I don't know how Iowa winters compare with New England winters, but the Iowa study with Russian bees and screened bottoms vs solid bottoms had no difference with overwinter success. The screened bottom board colonies did use about 20% more food during the winter. That was equal to one medium frame of honey.

    If you don't close the screen off, don't use upper ventilation. A closed inner cover is what is needed with screened bottoms. If the adult population is not very strong, I would close off the screen.
    Thank You!!
    Lynn, MA

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Seattle WA
    Posts
    1,241

    Default Re: Screened Botton Boards and a New England Winter

    There are people that overwinter with the bottom open but I prefer not to. The election is almost over so once it is, grab a few plastic signs, cut them to size and slide it in the bottom to cover the opening. Put the mouse guard back on and you are good for the winter. That should do it. Those signs are also good for counting mites after a treatment.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    7,854

    Default Re: Screened Botton Boards and a New England Winter

    Burn the SBB's for your winter heat. Bees ,may survive them, but they do not benefit the bees.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    3,291

    Default

    A guy around me with 20 or so hives leaves his open year long. He said he doesnt notice much if a difference as far as overwintering success vs his solid boards. But he does overwinter with more honey on his hives then I do. 35lb vs 60lb. He also treats his hives with miticide every summer which I don't.

    I keep mine closed year long with inspection board inserted. Winter winds will suck away heat. You can just rig something up to close off the bottom with wood, plastic and tape. With some help you could tilt hive to the side and slide a board under the bottom board then use tape/plastic to seal any gaps.

    When new beekeepers ask me while buying nucs in spring... I always tell them to keep it closed until nights are consitently 50f or higher which is May-Sept in my area. Open bottoms can really slow nuc growth in early spring...more bees have to stay on the cluster vs foraging and they only have 1 deep. With 2 deeps the bees cluster will be higher typically.

    Hope that helps.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Jackson, Ohio (SE Ohio) USA
    Posts
    817

    Default Re: Screened Botton Boards and a New England Winter

    Quote Originally Posted by dudelt View Post
    There are people that overwinter with the bottom open but I prefer not to. The election is almost over so once it is, grab a few plastic signs, cut them to size and slide it in the bottom to cover the opening. Put the mouse guard back on and you are good for the winter. That should do it. Those signs are also good for counting mites after a treatment.
    That's what I've done for 12 years.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Lambton Shores, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    282

    Default Re: Screened Botton Boards and a New England Winter

    I was paranoid about mine, even though it has an insert, so I ran a piece of tar paper (apparently now re-named "roofing felt") under the bottom of the hive stand and folded it up to staple it to the sides. The way it is attached, it runs the whole length of the stand (landing board to back of the hive stand), and up the back about 1/2 the way up the hive box. This completely encloses the bottom, blocks the "slot" for the SBB, and should protect it from wind/drafts.

    Bryan

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Spring Lake MI USA
    Posts
    112

    Default Re: Screened Botton Boards and a New England Winter

    I built all of my own equipment using plans mostly from Beesource. My screened bottom board is dado'ed into the side boards. The dado is approx 3/8th of an inch up (see photo). took a good dimension of the width and length and cut a piece of 3/4" plywood (a plug if you will). Then i used a prybar and carefully lifted the entire hive and slipped in some temporary spacers. Then slid the plywood into place and removed the temporary spacers. I took it one step further and put a shim between top of the plywood and bottom of my screen board. That gave me a spot to use for sticky boards.



    I
    Attached Images Attached Images

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    lafargeville ny usa
    Posts
    2,278

    Default Re: Screened Botton Boards and a New England Winter

    i never saw a hollow tree with a screened bottom. i assume this means bees did ok for a few million years without screened bottom boards.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Jackson, Ohio (SE Ohio) USA
    Posts
    817

    Default Re: Screened Botton Boards and a New England Winter

    Quote Originally Posted by mathesonequip View Post
    i never saw a hollow tree with a screened bottom. i assume this means bees did ok for a few million years without screened bottom boards.
    Hmmm, I never saw a hollow tree out in full sun like most folks put hives? OH yeah, that's done so the bees warm up faster and get foraging earlier. Surprising bees survived millions of years getting a late start? :-)

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