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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My follower board became severely warped (C shaped) a day or two after installation. IT's been quite cool here (highs in the high 50's) and very rainy. Its clear that the humidity in the hive has caused one side of the follower board to swell.

Is this common? Any suggestions on how to combat this problem? It's to the point where the top bar attached to the board tilts at a 45degree angle and the bees are actually using the gap as an entrance.
 

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I used plywood for my follower board, then coated it with a few layers of shellac. The shellac was all natural and bought off the shelf. I think it's helped to keep the boards straight, though we haven't had the humidity yet to test this hypothesis.
 

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Most of them made from 1x12 will cup pretty badly. This shouldn't be a problem unless you are trying to split the hive in half for splits or something. I like that the bees can get back and patrol behind the follower. Strangely the very first one I made hasn't cupped at all. I guess it was better wood.

I also have some made from some plywood pieces that were being thrown away at work. Normally I wouldn't use plywood but it was going in the trash. It stays straight and should last just about forever inside of the hive. Not sure how much out-gassing would be an issue, but it seemed like it was a bit old, so I would assume that it wouldn't be a problem. The bees don't seem to mind it.

When I make them from 1x12's I attached the wood to a top bar so I can get some beespace. So the top has stayed straight enough to keep it shut.

You could take the board out, trim it and attach a 1x across the top to keep the top closed. If you need something to keep the back closed during the repair just use some cardboard.
 

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When I started keeping bees I had follower boards, they are all in the trash now along with some other "can't do without" items, like inner covers for my langs, separate bottom boards and hive stands.
 

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I like follower boards. The bars contract and expand with the humidity, and the followers let the bars expand versus pushing the front or back off the hive. Don't ask me how I know about that.
 

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I've had the same problem. I made a new one for my Hybrid nuc so I can split it into two nucs. With the new one I painted it with melted beeswax as a sealer. I just split the nuc around a week ago and so far so good but with a colony on both sides I imagine it equalizes the humidity. Shellac sounds like a decent option too. For the follower that lets the bees go to the syrup, my fix for that was to cut it with 3/8" beespace around the sides in the hive. That has worked really well.
 

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A tight follower is necessary if you plant to do a split and have two colonies in one hive, but not otherwise necessary. Followers are good for controlling the volume of the hive, but you want bees able to patrol behind it. All kinds of things will want to live in that cozy space if you let them. If your follower is too warped, though, it may affect the shape of the comb on that end.
 

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Use ply wood, back it with cardboard or skirt it with tape.
Ensure ALL top bars are in place on the hive then if they do get through the follower board they will get bored and go back into the hive. That way they can't use it as an entrance. The worst that can happen is they use it as a bee graveyard to clear out their hive area.
 

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>When I started keeping bees I had follower boards, they are all in the trash now along with some other "can't do without" items, like inner covers for my langs, separate bottom boards and hive stands.

I'm a hoarder. Mine are all in a pile next to the garage...
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yeah, I've read about peoples feelings about their uselessness but I was trying to reconcile the advice that a package should be installed in "minimum" space with the advice that you don't need a follower. Also I eventually intend on putting an ir camera on my follower board ;)
 

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Those of us with established hives can often use combs from them to start new hives and make sure the bees build straight comb by placing new bars between them, but a new hive without a follower board or combs to act as guides or limit the space is asking for serious cross combing off the mark. If you don't want to use a follower board, make sure you have a fail-safe guide on your bars.
 

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I had an idea to staple some burlap around the perimeter of the follower board to plug the gaps...

I wonder if the bees will just eat through it??
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I had an idea to staple some burlap around the perimeter of the follower board to plug the gaps...

I wonder if the bees will just eat through it??
Being someone who probably cares way too much (experience hasn't taught me what really deserves my attention), I went back and fourth between my garage and miter saw trimming a new follower board to be a perfect fit. I'm probably going to have to treat it to make it water proof now ;)
 

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I'm thinking that cutting board material might be a good material for a follower board. It won't warp with moisture and can be cut rather easily to fit into the hive. Bees shouldnt be eating the material so it might be worth a try.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Not sure what cutting board material is.
Usually its high density polyethylene (HDPE). It's a dense fairly soft plastic that's very easy to work with. Some times we machine it to make quick prototypes or mock ups. Not so much these days now that laser cutting and 3d printing are all the rage.
 
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