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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For some time now I have been kicking around an idea for new bottom board design. Here is a picture of side view without the side panel from Sketchup:

200317 Vertical entrance v1.jpg

Here are the PLANNED advantages...
- Double screened bottom board prevents bees from bearding on the bottom of the hive (several did this last year)
- Front entrance slot is only 3/8" high (helps block mice and makes guarding easier)
- Front "porch" area behind the front board can then enter the hive "up" through a 2" x 10" collar (because supposedly SHB can't hover upward)
- Metal collar protruding 1/8" below the board (to prevent beetles from just crawling around upside down to get in)
- Each hive will also get 1-1/2" slatted racks above (to prevent building excessive burr comb on the bottom of the lower brood super frames)
- Slot in the back for inspection board with front face (so water running down the back of the hive can't swell the board and make it impossible to remove when it swells up)
- 1/4" hole below the top screened board (to make room for OAV snout, in a place that can't get blocked with burr comb)
- Front face of the Porch removable with only 1 of 2 screws (so porch and top screen can be cleared with a coat hanger wire)
- Detachable landing board (for convenience of the bees, and to make winter wrapping easier)

Any comments, suggestions, questions? Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm not sure that bearding is a problem exactly, but when there's almost a swarm on the bottom of the screened bottom, something seems off. I suspect that some of the activity is convenience, if the bees can pass things through the screen to some bees waiting on the other side, perhaps it is a convenience not having to use the entrance. Honestly I am not sure, but if I can keep them off the bottom, and hopefully inside the box more, then I may have a better chance to corral them at night for a good OAV treatment. With a slatted rack above the BB, then perhaps they'll be happier to hang out inside also.

The principal measure I am trying to accomplish is to make life difficult for any SMB to get into the hive. One poster likened them to squirrels, where perhaps nothing will keep ALL of them out, but in my view fewer that can get in = happier bees. My previous design (with a sort of beetle barrier using a metal shield coated in never-wet) worked quite well, but the design I created is overloy complicated, and the bees tend to make lots of comb on the bottom of the lower box frames. Hopefully this will reduce this tendancy too.

Thanks for great comments I've found on the site, lots of helpful experience here :)
 

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If SHB are your main concern try a couple of these. Looks promising to me. Have switched to solid bottoms as well. Think the screened bottoms cause more issues than they solve. SHB can easily get through standard screened bottom boards.

https://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?359729-Guardian

In my experience, bearding bees usually hang off the front of the hive. If hanging from the screened bottom, chances are they are bees that missed the entrance/landing board and ended up under the hive. Since they smell the hive they tend to get stuck wandering the screen trying to get in and, eventually, just hang there. Pretty sure bees do not pass anything through the screen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the advice regarding the Guardian product, it definately looks like an interesting product that is well thought out. But of course I am trying to solve a number of issues on my own, without spending any new cash, and put it all together into a nice little package, so I'll finish the product and stick it on some bees this year and get a real-world answer from the real experts (the bees).

For the bottom board itself, it will be double screened. Top one below the slatted rack will be #8, and the one "under" the entire board will be aluminum window screen, so its hopefully impervious to beetles. I didn't mention it before, but you will see I am also incorporating a jar-type beetle trap inside the "porch" with the top screened by #8 and the jar having 1/4 of oil inside... Hopefully if the beetles are milling about on the porch under the entrance for a bit, bees can shove them into the jar before they turn into squirrels and figure out how to get in.

This is one of the things I really like about beekeeping though, if you have an idea, try it out and see what happens. If it works tell everybody else so we can all benefit, and the bees can hopefully stay around a while longer for all our flowers and food :)
 

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You will end up with dropped pollen and general hive debri in between those screens, it will be a haven for ants, shb larvae, and wax moth larvae since the bees can't clean it. If you are determined to double screen, try the fine screen atop the more open one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Update, first prototype completed:
- The main body is just essentially an enclosed case with removable front, back, and bottom panels (scroll down and you can see the design in the sketchup pic in the thread below
- The "porch" is a staging area behind the front panel (removed in the picture), then the bees will hover upward into the hive
- Not shown, but I'll cut out a bit from the slatted racks in the entrance area for better ability for the bees to land
- The porch has an integral screened jar trap. Hopefully SHB will be attracted to oil in the jar (or they can get pushed in by bees) and that's the first line of defense
- The vertical entrance is ringed by a section of aluminum flashing about 1/8" wider than the board, so it is difficult for them to try to walk in upside-down
- Once in, the bottom is screened by #8 hardware cloth, with a shallow pan of veg oil underneath, which is not normally accessible from anywhere (removable panels are covered)
- Good bee space and slatted racks should discourage building comb down into the entrance area
- Hole for OAV application is currently just under the top screen, but I may move it up above based on comments from other regarding condensation of the crystals into the screen
- Camo fabric applied over the box as an experiment, durability TBD

IMG_20200416_153159038.jpg
 

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Update, first prototype completed:
- The main body is just essentially an enclosed case with removable front, back, and bottom panels (scroll down and you can see the design in the sketchup pic in the thread below
- The "porch" is a staging area behind the front panel (removed in the picture), then the bees will hover upward into the hive
- Not shown, but I'll cut out a bit from the slatted racks in the entrance area for better ability for the bees to land
- The porch has an integral screened jar trap. Hopefully SHB will be attracted to oil in the jar (or they can get pushed in by bees) and that's the first line of defense
- The vertical entrance is ringed by a section of aluminum flashing about 1/8" wider than the board, so it is difficult for them to try to walk in upside-down
- Once in, the bottom is screened by #8 hardware cloth, with a shallow pan of veg oil underneath, which is not normally accessible from anywhere (removable panels are covered)
- Good bee space and slatted racks should discourage building comb down into the entrance area
- Hole for OAV application is currently just under the top screen, but I may move it up above based on comments from other regarding condensation of the crystals into the screen
- Camo fabric applied over the box as an experiment, durability TBD

View attachment 54633
IMO, this entrance requires 1/2 inch screen.
The varmints will chew through the wooden slit if they really want.

Attached the modified picture.
VerticalEntranceMod.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
IMO, this entrance requires 1/2 inch screen.
The varmints will chew through the wooden slit if they really want.

Attached the modified picture.
View attachment 54635
Interesting, I hadn't considered that, hungry critters can certainly be determined lol. Easy enough to put a 1/2" screen on the outside of the porch opening though, I'd rather keep the hover-area as clear as I can.
 

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Interesting, I hadn't considered that, hungry critters can certainly be determined lol. Easy enough to put a 1/2" screen on the outside of the porch opening though, I'd rather keep the hover-area as clear as I can.
If you screen the porch opening - you then obstruct it for yourself (consider trying to clear the dead bees out of it).
I still like my proposal better (bees will not mind the screen over "hover area", pretty sure).
On the balance, the horizontal screen may get clogged by the dead bees too - still needs cleaning, but it can be done and not critical (see "upper entrance in winter).
:)

PS: you can built-in the screen into the removable part - a consideration there, if really preferred.
 

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Hive beetles will land at the entrance and walk in. The bees will try to eject them, but with little success.
 

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Update, first prototype completed:
hockeyfan_019:

I am impressed that you have brought this thing from prototype to finished product, and I am interested to hear how this design works out for you.

I have found that slatted racks have virtually eliminated summer bearding in my locale, and when coupled with screened bottom boards, I have not noticed an increased SHB prevalence (though I was anticipating it).

One thing I have observed (at least here locally) you will either want to clean the area under the double screened portion routinely or have the means to affix an oil tray as SHB do have a field day with pollen debris that drops down below the screen- ask me how I know. :eek:

Do keep us posted how this works out for you- might be your ticket to your next million! :D

p.s. nice camo paint job...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
If you screen the porch opening - you then obstruct it for yourself (consider trying to clear the dead bees out of it).
I still like my proposal better (bees will not mind the screen over "hover area", pretty sure).
On the balance, the horizontal screen may get clogged by the dead bees too - still needs cleaning, but it can be done and not critical (see "upper entrance in winter).
:)

PS: you can built-in the screen into the removable part - a consideration there, if really preferred.
This was definitely part of the design considerations Greg... Since the front panel is removable, the top of the screen is accessible to a bent coat hanger to drag any corpses out, as well as out from inside the "porch". As you mentioned, the screen could be removed easily when it was stapled to the front panel for cleaning purposes.

Secondly though, the beetles could certainly land on the hive and crawl through the 3/8" gap. But, to get all the way into the hive section, they would have to find a way to navigate through the vertical opening. If it is an actual fact that they can't fly straight upward via hovering, the only way left would be to try to crawl around the inside. Up the walls, across the ceiling, but then they are blocked by the lip of sheet metal. Since they only have little legs, and their caripice is inflexible, it may hopefully cause them to repeatedly fall down as they are trying to transition into the vertical surface of the chimney.

The start of the idea came from some folks that have tried a "periscope" entrance using various PVC pipe fittings, which are apparently moderately successful to exclude the majority of hive beetles that try to enter. Ultimately strong hives, with good placement in sun as much as possible, and my relatively colder climate here in Michigan will hopefully keep them in check. I am just trying to think of ways to help minimize the effort it may take them to perform the tasks. Thanks for all the helpful info :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
hockeyfan_019:

I am impressed that you have brought this thing from prototype to finished product, and I am interested to hear how this design works out for you.

I have found that slatted racks have virtually eliminated summer bearding in my locale, and when coupled with screened bottom boards, I have not noticed an increased SHB prevalence (though I was anticipating it).

One thing I have observed (at least here locally) you will either want to clean the area under the double screened portion routinely or have the means to affix an oil tray as SHB do have a field day with pollen debris that drops down below the screen- ask me how I know. :eek:

Do keep us posted how this works out for you- might be your ticket to your next million! :D

p.s. nice camo paint job...
Thanks Litsinger for your comments. I am simply hoping to come up with a design that helps the bees thrive, and helps me so I can focus more on other tasks that always seem to be necessary... Unfortunately it also seems that however successful any of our projects actually result, it's unlikely any of our beekeeping activities are likely to support anything like an electric car and space vehicle company anytime soon, so Elon is safe for now from any beekeeping competition :)

The camo here is actually another experiment with glued-on fabric, so I figured why not throw it in there too! I found that trying to paint my own camo was more time consuming and tedious than even I was willing to invest in it lol.

Almost forgot, there is also a removable back panel, wherein a solid tray slides in, with a pan of veggie oil for the comfort of our SHB guests. Ideally they'll check in, but they'll never leave. The pan can be removed periodically to look for mite drops or just to monitor any other debris.
 

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... so Elon is safe for now from any beekeeping competition :)
This is funny- if nothing else you can maybe make a worthy contribution to the beekeeping community at-large. Per your comment below, people all over the lower 48 are singing the praises of Jerry Freeman for the SHB tray that now bears his name- they are quite an effective tool in helping to keep those pesky rascals knocked-down.

Almost forgot, there is also a removable back panel, wherein a solid tray slides in, with a pan of veggie oil for the comfort of our SHB guests. Ideally they'll check in, but they'll never leave. The pan can be removed periodically to look for mite drops or just to monitor any other debris.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
This is funny- if nothing else you can maybe make a worthy contribution to the beekeeping community at-large. Per your comment below, people all over the lower 48 are singing the praises of Jerry Freeman for the SHB tray that now bears his name- they are quite an effective tool in helping to keep those pesky rascals knocked-down.
Interestingly, I'd never heard of the Jerry Freeman trap, but the design here uses essentially the same concept for the oil tray trap, so seems like it's already been tested with good results! Some folks on his sales page seem to have commented that #8 is too coarse for female SHB to fall through, so perhaps I will look for some a bit coarser like #7 or #6 to try out as well, as long as the bees can't get through it. I really like his trays though with the integral side flanges, the box can just have a shallow dado cut through the sides, and then the SHB can't find any safety by moving down the sides very close to the wall. With the entire "floor is lava" for them, it'll be lights out for sure :)
 

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.... and my relatively colder climate here in Michigan will hopefully keep them in check. I am just trying to think of ways to help minimize the effort it may take them to perform the tasks. Thanks for all the helpful info :)
I was gonna ask - are you sure you have SHB problem at your location?

The thing is - I don't care of SHB - the winter takes care of them really well, even if southern packages maybe bringing some up here.
People keep talking of them in theory, and yet I am still to find one.
No one up here has produced yet a valid report of SHB ruining a hive.

Why should you even care (being in similar situation to mine)?
Maybe you are trying to solve an issue that does not exist.
:)

PS: I do like your design for other things, just don't see its SHB-mitigating merit
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks Greg for your comments. Indeed some of my hives were rooted from nucs that were "grown" in Kentucky, and I am not sure if that really has anything to do with it, but I have seen a small number of SHB. Mind you not LIVE ones, but a few occasionally on the sticky boards when I am monitoring for mite drops, and some in my between-frame beetle-blaster oil traps. I suspect that the nucs could not have been a source of them, since thorough inspection has never revealed any larvae or slime damage, and it's been a long time since bringing any in.

Although I am sure it is not realistic to think that total eradication is possible, since there is probably some endemic population that can manage and reproduce even without invading our hives (thanks invasive-infested pallet wood for another problem), if we can manage to make things so hard to deal with in our hives then perhaps the local populations will eventually collapse. Unlikely yes, but hopeful anyways :)

Finally I forgot to mention, all my hives have 30#felt paper generously under and around the stands, to minimize any chance for successful pupation of larvae into adults, so regardless I should never be responsible for creating an environment for them to expand their numbers.
 

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I suppose you have it milder than I and that maybe a problem.
USDA 6a, 8 frame equipment
I am at the borderline of USDA 4b/5a - that should be freezing the SHB out pretty well.
 
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