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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First year woes and questions.

Last week I noticed a swarm on a tree near my hives. Not having much extra equipment, I grabbed an extra deep and put a board on the bottom and used some cardboard for a top. Got the bees in the box and set it near the other hives. Later I went to check and they were all gone. Easy come, easy go I suppose. And it was a hive I had just added another deep to.

Today I stopped to look at the hives. I noticed several bees buzzing around the back of a hive I had added another deep to. Getting down on the ground and looking up I noticed the outside of the screen of the bottom board covered with bees. Admittedly, I had never looked before, so I don't know if this is out of the norm or not. Any wisdom to share?
 

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First year woes and questions.

Last week I noticed a swarm on a tree near my hives. Not having much extra equipment, I grabbed an extra deep and put a board on the bottom and used some cardboard for a top. Got the bees in the box and set it near the other hives. Later I went to check and they were all gone. Easy come, easy go I suppose. And it was a hive I had just added another deep to.

Today I stopped to look at the hives. I noticed several bees buzzing around the back of a hive I had added another deep to. Getting down on the ground and looking up I noticed the outside of the screen of the bottom board covered with bees. Admittedly, I had never looked before, so I don't know if this is out of the norm or not. Any wisdom to share?
Entirely possible that the swarm queen got stuck UNDER your hive (does happen with the swarm captures and similar moves).
And so the entire swarm joined her under there.
Just redo your gymnastics - shake them the all INTO the hive and observe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Entirely possible that the swarm queen got stuck UNDER your hive (does happen with the swarm captures and similar moves).
And so the entire swarm joined her under there.
Just redo your gymnastics - shake them the all INTO the hive and observe.
Now that would be interesting! Not nearly as many bees that swarmed, and they would be hanging out under a different hive. Getting late here, but I'll check it out again tomorrow. I would have to knock them into a box and then transfer them to the extra deep. I was reading that perhaps I should have put a queen excluder on the bottom and the top to keep her majesty in.
 

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Now that would be interesting! Not nearly as many bees that swarmed, and they would be hanging out under a different hive. Getting late here, but I'll check it out again tomorrow. I would have to knock them into a box and then transfer them to the extra deep. I was reading that perhaps I should have put a queen excluder on the bottom and the top to keep her majesty in.
The excluders in this case are irrelevant.
What could have happened with the swarm collection process - you knocked the queen down and she eventually flew and landed someplace.
Then the bees followed her.
A good idea when handling swarms on an open perch - place a light cloth under the swarm before you start the collections gymnastics.
Periodically and after the collection, check if any queens are crawling about on that white sheet - you may get surprised to actually find a queen that you knocked down. It indeed happens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
This morning I laid a white towel under the hive. Then took a bee brush and brushed the bees off the bottom screen and into a box, getting nearly all of them in. I then checked the sheet and no queen on the sheet. Sealed the box and left it on the sheet under the hive. Plan is to go check the sheet later and the bottom of the hive. Hope is to see those bees clustering on the outside of the box. This afternoon I can pick up a complete hive (I have an extra deep, but no bottom board or top) and install them into it. I'm reading lemongrass oil is good, should I put some of it in the new hive. Also, would taking out a frame of honey from the old hive be a good thing to do? Thanks.
 

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Just another reason why screened bottom boards are poor practice. Colonies can survive them but I seriously doubt they ever do a colony any good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Just another reason why screened bottom boards are poor practice. Colonies can survive them but I seriously doubt they ever do a colony any good.
Sorry, you'll have to explain that to me, what are the other reasons? And which colony? The one in the hive, or the swarm hanging on the bottom of the screen?
 

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SBB's are a bad idea that has been sold to countless beginners by countless second year beekeepers. The cluster of wasted and dying bees hanging confused below the screen is recurring. Search back ten years and you will find your post.

Queens also end up below the screen and there is no way that can end well.

Bees can survive and overcome SSB's but when a colony has to maintain high temperature and as important high humidity around their brood, how can a gaping hole in the bottom and multiple other holes above maximize that effort?

Bees in nature by vast numbers choose a cavity about the size of a langstroth hive body with one entrance about the size of a walnut. Bees did not evolve with solar powered blowers or screened holes forcing all hands on deck at all times to climate control brood. Bearding bees on hot afternoons are not a sign of distress! They are bees unemployed because there is currently no fieldwork to do or things are perfect inside so they are outside so their metabolic heat does not overheat the nest.

My comments are possibly simplistic and I do not keep bees in the fever swamp of the south, but for my northern apiaries what I say I know to be true.
 

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I use SBB’s but over top of a solid bottom board. There’s an inspection tray that slots in the back that I use for varroa monitoring. It’s especially useful after an OAV treatment to count the mite drop. There is a gap in the back where I slot in a piece of wood to avoid any bees getting in there. Thought I’d mention it just in case you have the equipment and considering replacing it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I am indeed a beginner. I took a class where they were recommended, however one of the instructors said he was going to all solid boards, but didn't want to get into the 'controversy'. My bees are located a few hundred feet from a commercial apple orchard and I lock them in the hive when it gets sprayed. I took out the solid board because I was concerned they might get too hot being locked in all day. I can put it back in. The bottom boards are also constructed in a manner that I could put a solid board underneath and the bees could not access the bottom of the screen as LAlldredge brought out.
 

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Don't let the superior air of the naysayers get to you. Lots of folks use screens sucessfully, and lot of folks use solid bottoms sucessfully.

I use screened bottom boards, and prefer them. I am not too far from you, so you could use them sucessfully as well.

Those who pontificate about the evils of screened bottom boards seem to ignore the fact that they can be (and often should be) closed. When closed, they are largely the same as a solid bottom. Just because you can leave them open, doesn't mean you have to.

The main feature that I like for the boards is the option of "peeking" into the hives without opening them. When I pull the bottom out, I can tell you much of the story of what is going on in the hive, without opening. Robbing, cleaning old comb, expanding brood nest, mites, pollen gathering, brooding, comb building, ants, excess moisture, and much more are evidenced on the tray. It takes me maybe 30 seconds per hive to look at the boards for a quick check, with no smoking or suiting up, and no disruption to the colony.

There are two sides to beekeeping, one is the bees, the other is the keeper. Not everything is "best for the bees," but still useful to the keeper. Screened bottom boards are good for this keeper, and I believe they can be used in a way that is good for the bees as well.

In summary, it is another option in the bee management toolbox, one that can be used well or used poorly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Don't let the superior air of the naysayers get to you. Lots of folks use screens sucessfully, and lot of folks use solid bottoms sucessfully.

I use screened bottom boards, and prefer them. I am not too far from you, so you could use them sucessfully as well.

Those who pontificate about the evils of screened bottom boards seem to ignore the fact that they can be (and often should be) closed. When closed, they are largely the same as a solid bottom. Just because you can leave them open, doesn't mean you have to.

The main feature that I like for the boards is the option of "peeking" into the hives without opening them. When I pull the bottom out, I can tell you much of the story of what is going on in the hive, without opening. Robbing, cleaning old comb, expanding brood nest, mites, pollen gathering, brooding, comb building, ants, excess moisture, and much more are evidenced on the tray. It takes me maybe 30 seconds per hive to look at the boards for a quick check, with no smoking or suiting up, and no disruption to the colony.

There are two sides to beekeeping, one is the bees, the other is the keeper. Not everything is "best for the bees," but still useful to the keeper. Screened bottom boards are good for this keeper, and I believe they can be used in a way that is good for the bees as well.

In summary, it is another option in the bee management toolbox, one that can be used well or used poorly.
Are you IEBA? That's where I took the course, and my nucs came from Spokane. One of the first things they said was if you ask ten beekeepers a question you'll get twelve different answers. I can easily put the bottoms back on, maybe just crack them open when they get locked in for the day. What you say makes sense, so I'll give it a go.
 

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New beekeeper here, with bees since February last year, indeed in the fever swamps of the South, and I use screened bottoms. I've noted that keeping the insert in for more than a week (introducing a new queen for example) always results in pests breeding in the protected space under the screen, mostly SHB. I've learned to be sure to keep that area cleaned out since the bees can't get in to clean it themselves. Thought I would mention that with the comments about keeping the board closed off. Maybe this problem is unique to our South Florida climate.

At the local bee club the explanation for the bees under the screen was that they are mostly would-be robbers.
 

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Are you IEBA? That's where I took the course, and my nucs came from Spokane. One of the first things they said was if you ask ten beekeepers a question you'll get twelve different answers. I can easily put the bottoms back on, maybe just crack them open when they get locked in for the day. What you say makes sense, so I'll give it a go.
I'm not a member of IEBA, but am a member of Backyard Beekeepers in Deer Park, and WASBA.
 

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New beekeeper here, with bees since February last year, indeed in the fever swamps of the South, and I use screened bottoms. I've noted that keeping the insert in for more than a week (introducing a new queen for example) always results in pests breeding in the protected space under the screen, mostly SHB. I've learned to be sure to keep that area cleaned out since the bees can't get in to clean it themselves. Thought I would mention that with the comments about keeping the board closed off. Maybe this problem is unique to our South Florida climate.

At the local bee club the explanation for the bees under the screen was that they are mostly would-be robbers.
Seems reasonable, but I have not noted the same in our cooler and dryer climate.
 

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I get wax moth larvae on my inserts. I try to scrape them off every couple of weeks during inspections. Richmond is hot and humid during the summer so SBB seem to work well for me. I have one hive on a donated solid bottom and so far have not notice much of a difference, but this colony is quite small still. I do like Bushpilot and others and use what I see on the insert as a window to what is happening in the hive. Very valuable information, especially coming out of winter when I don't want to disturb the cluster but still want to know how many frames have brood in them.

Last year I did have two queens return and set up house under the SBB. My bad for not catching it in time to usher the queen into the hive proper. I was able to save one of the hives by giving them another queen, but the other hive perished.
 
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