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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I have 2 hives that I started last year. During last year I grow from 1 deep to 2 deeps and went through the winter well. Both hives did very well and even better - they were so strong so they swarmed.
Once I saw that hives did the winter well, I put 3rd deep on top hopping that they have enough place and not swarm, but they did anyway.

I started both hives with screened bottom boards.
Recently I checked, both hives some how ignoring bottom deep, use middle box as broodiest and top box as super.
Was sugested to move to solid bottom board, run to local supplier and while I was buying them, asked what he uses - he said that he is using screened bottom boards for 15 years now and never had a problem.

What is the solution here ??
This is very confusing for me as a new beekeeper - it's like listening 7 songs at the time and try to guess the song that you are not familiar much.

Is it possible that they have too much space so they decided to stay away from the entrance?
I kept the boards closed till about 6 weeks ago, when it turned to 90-s.

Ready to hear suggestions.
Thanks.

PS: Maybe 2 deep is the optimal size for hive - should I take the bottom boxes out?
 

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I don't think there is a "solution" either way, so don't be confused. My thoughts are that SBBs were a fad that is kinda loosing popularity. Originally, they were they were developed as part of the IPM scheme, but nobody has seemed figured out how or why they work for pest management. That said, if you have concerns about ventilation, go right ahead. I used SBBs exclusively for about 3 years but have been slowly getting away from them. I haven't noticed any differences.
 

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Rotate your boxes, put the empties on top.

If you use SBB keep them closed, to much energy to heat and cool, bees may not brood to the bottom of the frames if SBB are open.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Rotate your boxes, put the empties on top.

If you use SBB keep them closed, to much energy to heat and cool, bees may not brood to the bottom of the frames if SBB are open.
I was thinking of rotating them :)
I closed both: front and back (my hives are sited on piece of plywood) last fall, before it got cold, then opened back side mid winter, when it I noticed moisture sign in the hives (I also added quilt box on the top). Then about 6-8 weeks ago I opened front side too - some bees got under it on the screen fan into the hive to ventilate it. I thought it's a good sign: cooling off the hive.
I also have the sticky board slide under the screen, so the gap is about 1/4".

I really want to stay with screened boards (although I already bought solid boards) to have mite control and "clean" hive (I can take the sticky board out and see if there are wax-moth feces or anything else), but if it messes the management in the hive, I rather switch to solid board.

I am also thinking to downsize the hive to 2-deeps - it looks like the bees have too much space and they are just scattered around.

Any advise?
 

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I am new at this too so take this for what it is worth but I have never had bees that raised a brood nest larger than 2 deeps. They will work up more readily than down and this may be what you are experiencing. If your brood nest is fully in the top two deeps I would remove the bottom deep if it is just comb or foundation. Be careful with any frames of stores that might be in the box. They can be given to needy hives or frozen but they shouldn't be left where bees or pests can get to them if you want to save them.

As for screened bottom boards I am not sure where I stand on them. All my 10 frame boards are screened and I haven't opened them at all this year as haven't noticed any bearding going on in the evening. All my nucleus hives have solid bottom boards and they seem to do well with them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If screened bottom boards are so good, why do the bees propolize the screen shut?

Crazy Roland
They don't :)
By some beekeepers experience, the ideal size of mesh is #8 (or 1/8"). Smaller than 1/8" they propolize, bigger than 1/8" - thy go through :)
There is no magic here.
 

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This is a subject that has been beat to death on this forum, so many different opinions. Could be area specific in some cases. I will relate my experiences, I do live in a hot humid area, yet I want extra ventilation more for the winter to hold down moisture issues, than to cool the hives in the summer. I now build my hive bottoms with only the middle third covered with #8 screen, a few of my old hives have full screen, and I cover them with landscaping cloth for the first two weeks after installing a new colony, to prevent absconding. I think the screens help with the mites falling through, I leave them open year round. My temperatures run 95 to 100 most days now, and out of eighty hives not one is bearding.
As for the bees using the second box for brood, that is normal, you should find the bottom box has a lot of pollen stored. They should move back down to raise their winter bees in the fall, so check the bottom box, if there is no pollen stored you may have to swap the boxes as someone has suggested. SBB may be a fad, if so I'm a slow learner, I've used them for nine years.
 

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Use both, with the solid board underneath the SBB, so you get the benefits of both. That's how all my stacks are set up. I also find that using a 2" shim (made up with no hole) underneath the lowest box makes the queen lay right down to bottom of the frames in the lowest box. Slatted boards do this, too, except that they mess up my varroa drop counts and the cost $20+, while a shim costs $5 only. I call them my poor girl's slatted racks.

Somewhat suprisingly, the bees don't draw much, if any, comb down into the space inside the shim. Though I do actually look in with a flashlight before jamming an OAV wand in there.

Enj.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
This is all great news :) tremendous :)

I have AC190579l.jpg kind of bottom boards. They are sitting on piece of plywood too (it is not through to the grass).

Last year (when I started) this time, both sides were open, then closer to winter I closed both sides using duct-tape, then when noticed moisture issue in the hive (sugar block started melting and the syrup leaked out - benefit of screened board) I opened back side.

I guess I am benefiting from both: solid and screened bottom board, but because of the luck of experience I really don't know: should I keep it closed or opened?

When should I keep it closed and when opened and when partially opened (only back side)?
It seems that having a front side open is never right.
 

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When the third box was added was it drawn comb or foundation? If foundation, the bees often don't recognize foundation as extra space. Did you bait the bees into the third box by moving a frame or two from the second to the third box? With SBB some bees are reluctant to lay in the bottom box, if this was the case, then in essence you had a one deep or at best two deep hive during build-up end therefore they swarmed. If your bees won't lay in the bottom box with the SBB then you will need to close it up at least somewhat and there are good ideas from other posters. As for me SBB may help with mites and trash but, I believe it makes it much harder for the bees to regulate temperature inside the hive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The 3rd box was brand new box with frames and plastic foundation.
Yes, they did swarm before started building-up 3rd box, but now, they ignore bottom box (that was my impression).

As it was mentioned above, they might use it for pollen. If don't notice anything when I do the inspection next time, I'll rotate the boxes: will put bottom box on top.

For now I am trying to come to conclusion if I want to move to solid board or stay with screened board and close it.

I closed the front side few days ago - I noticed that traffic increased at the entrance and many bees are at the entrance: I can assume they are fanning at the entrance to get cooler air in.

Again, dilemma: open-close, solid-screened :)
 

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Could be 3 times that amount of bees were working just as hard or harder inside the hive to control things because of a wide open hole messing with there climate stabilization efforts. The things we can see that appear for the positive are not always so.
 

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hi all,
for what its worth I run screened bottom boards to help monitor for mites. that said I also use ventilated inner covers to help with heat in the summer. These inner covers are made so I can put in
a piece of foam in the winter.
at that time I add a shim and commence with mountain camp or candy board to assist in moisture control and winter feeding.
OAV. is what I am doing for mite controll and this includes treating packages before they are installed.
Best to everyone:lookout:
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
colby,

Do you keep your screened bottom boards closed or opened? when do you close them and when open them?

What is the brand of your SSB?

It looks I am leaning to the conclusion that screened bottom boards are good things, but they need to be closed and opened at certain times.
I am guessing that summer time they need to be closed - winter time cracked-up to provide extra air flow to control moisture.

I haven't done any mite treatment this year yet and before have done OAD. I built my own OA vaporizer and planning to slide it right under the screen for vaporization.
 

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If the bees are passing thru your screened bottom board, is it really a bottom board or a "wire restriction/slatted rack"?

Crazy Roland
 

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Hi Artur,
My screened bottom boards are from Blue sky bee supply. I find they are well built and that the slot that allows the plastic board to slide in and out is sized well' By that i am saying that some fit too snug so that if you want to do a mite count you can't because when you pull the board it cleans ll the debris from the board.

I open the bottoms when spring temps over night are in the sixties. If all goes well I dont close them till sometime in september unless i am going to do an oav treatment. In that case they are just closed when I treat.
over winter i do leave them open about a half inch for ventilation
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I open the bottoms when spring temps over night are in the sixties. If all goes well I dont close them till sometime in september unless i am going to do an oav treatment. In that case they are just closed when I treat.
over winter i do leave them open about a half inch for ventilation
This is what I thought would be the "right" management and following it before while.

What confused me is: my hives are 3 deeps and, some how, bees are disregarding the bottom deep and:
1. one hive is using middle deep as a brood box and top deep as a super, which is kind of ok except disregarding of bottom box
2. second hive is using 2-3 middle frames of middle deep and top deep as brood frames and the other frames of middle and top deeps as storage/super and there is no caped honey in that hive.

Listening some advises this morning I closed back side of my SSBs too, and as weather today is very hot, the bees are bearding the hive :(

It is kind of too confusing when I hear completely different opinions from different people (no offense to anyone).

Colby, what is your hive structure?

Thanks,
 
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