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Discussion Starter #1
All,

We are in our third year of bee keeping, currently with three hives, all doing ok. The hives all have screened bottom boards - I'm wondering what is the recommended practice (if there's a consensus) regarding leaving the sliding bottom in or out in the summer heat?

We live in central TN where the heat index is typically in the mid 80's to low 90's in the summer. I noticed that on two of the hives there are lots of bees congregating on the landing boards mid-day.

Thanks,
Lou
 

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I leave mine closed year round, and as I rotate them out for maintenance I am gradually converting back to solid bottoms. My climate is significantly dryer, and warmer, than your climate.

 

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I am in north Arkansas and here the bottom board is open during the summer months. You might try selecting comparable colonies and doing one open and the other closed. Then you can tell if it reduces bearding in the colony that is open.
 

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I love the can of worms thing!

I have two hives, first year and installed nuc's in late March, all doing well-have both a hive with and one without. Not being scientific comparison, the solid board hive did better this year, no pests or problems. When it got hot (same type of weather, today is 91 F plus 90% humidity) I used the wooden entrance excluder as a shim on the telescopic lid, never had an issue with bearding of any consequence. Now i originally planned on putting screened bottoms on both but Mann Lakes shipped one at a time, the nucs came and the second one came two weeks later so is still in the box. Go figure! The screened bottom had more SHB's and wax moths which were dealt with by two strong hives. I like the ablity to inspect the pull out drawer but the girls will take care of the heat in their own way-I keep the draw shut always-it's a path into the hive for problems. Even OAV treatment will eventually rot out any type of screen short of stainless and I'm not sure if #8 cloth is made in stainless. I am thinking of building a screened bottom with a white acrylic shelf that will seal and possibly when removed fit a 3/4 or 1 sheet of foam insulation for winter. Short of that, I'd go solid. Learning a lot this year, here and from other Beek's - $.02 from a new bee. Your actual mileage may vary.

Can opened.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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In Richmond, I open my screened bottoms during the summer. The inserts are in right now as I am doing my fall OAV treatments. Very little bearding now that temps are back into the low 90's.
 

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In Richmond, I open my screened bottoms during the summer. The inserts are in right now as I am doing my fall OAV treatments. Very little bearding now that temps are back into the low 90's.
My one hive was bearding like crazy and the temps weren't even that high. It looks like they finally stopped after the cool 50-60 degrees nights the past couple of days. I was starting to get concerned there was something going on inside the hive like a dead mouse or something. I guess I should still look.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
All,

Thanks for the replies, I figured there would be a variety of approaches. For now I decided to experiment a bit as AR suggested. We're going to be getting some cooler weather and rain for the next couple of days, so we shall see.

Thanks,
Lou
 

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I run mine open all year round - and find colonies with Open Mesh Floors are healthier than those without.

For those people who are freaked-out by the idea of running hives - effectively without a bottom board present - check out:
https://beesource.com/point-of-view/charles-martin-simon/bottomless-beekeeping/
https://beesource.com/point-of-view/charles-martin-simon/bottomless-beekeeping-unpublished-version/

But - I hate to break the news to him - he wasn't the first to invent that idea - a guy called Jacobs beat him to it - way back in 1860. US Patent 30143.
LJ
 

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I live about 5 miles north of Hell itself (no offense to the Floridians on this board). I never close off my screened bottom boards. I only use the insert briefly while applying OAV. My solid bottom boards beard like crazy. Not sure anything is necessarily bad about that. But there is a definite difference in side-by-side comparisons in my climate. I prefer screened bottom boards, but not enough to throw away by solids.
 

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I'm in northeast OH, not close enough to the lake for any cooling. We don't typically get many days in a row over 90, but yes over 80. Currently no flow. Also true for picture below. Hive with yellow top super has a solid bottom board. Both have 2 mediums as a brood chamber, 3 fully drawn supers, bottom super has no nectar (yes comb). I don't know why its sideways. The hive on the right viewed from front has the solid bottom board - lots of bearding. The second pic is of the hives with the lid off - the one with fewer bees visible in the top super is the one that has the solid bottom board and is bearding. Oh both have vented inner cover. Some of my hives don't. I don't notice a different with bearding for those other hives.

I use almost all screened bottom boards with insert "in" all year long, no matter the temps. I put one sheet of insulation on the lid throughout the season.

solid_mesh_bearding_2mp.jpg
solid_mesh_lidoff_2MP.jpg
 

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For your experiment, don't just look at bearding, but also pest infiltration, over all health and vigor, as well as honey production, etc. Here in upstate NY I found that screen bottom boards reduce overall vigor and productivity. Unscientific observation and not so big of a difference I got rid of them. The few screened bottoms we have, some are open all year without a significant difference; none deal so well that wax moths don't go in there....
 
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