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I want to be able to skip the queen excluder. Our bees made lots of honey last summer, but they didn't give us much. Some beekeepers say that the workers don't like the queen excluders and that some beekeepers don't use them. Is it possible that the queen will not lay in frames that are at the top if there is still room to lay down below? This might be a clue to keeping the queen out of the honey supers without using a queen excluder.
 

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The queen will venture up into the supers without an excluder. Just don't extract those frames or put the excluder on after the bees are working in the supers. Make sure the queen is below the excluder and the brood will soon emerge. An upper entrance will also allow the workers to bypass the excluder. .
 

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I want to be able to skip the queen excluder. Our bees made lots of honey last summer, but they didn't give us much. Some beekeepers say that the workers don't like the queen excluders and that some beekeepers don't use them. Is it possible that the queen will not lay in frames that are at the top if there is still room to lay down below? This might be a clue to keeping the queen out of the honey supers without using a queen excluder.
Did you find that your brood chambers had a lot of honey in them? Maybe, like NY, you had a poor honey yield year in OR.
 

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How many survived the Winter?

Had the brood chambers not been loaded w/ honey, maybe not as many would have survived the Winter, would have starved. So maybe an excluder is a good thing. Because, if that honey had been stored in your honey supers you would have taken it off, had a good honey crop, but a bad Winter.
 

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an embarrassing question. Two of the three hives were very strong through mid-fall. Then when I checked in late fall, they had all disappeared (not even any dead bodies). Nothing but a lot of yellowjackets in the hives. The Apigard I put in was still there after a month. We still think it was verroa mites that killed them.
 

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Sorry about that. Didn't mean to embarrass you. You can see what I was getting at.
 

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I don't think that's a factor here, sqkcrk, since I started feeding them with top-feeders shortly after harvesting. (The story of the 3rd hive is even more embarrassing. I had noticed that the syrup level was not going down, so I assumed that they were living off their stores. I later discovered that the holes in the feeder cap were rusted shut, so the bees had starved. I felt like Pol Pot).
 

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A queen excluder can only be a honey excluder when there is honey to exclude. And when it is excluded, it isn't that the bees stop gathering nectar, but that they put it somewhere else. Such as below the excluder, in the brood chambers.
 

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Right. I'm pretty sure that there were pretty few bees working the supers through the summer. They wouldn't go past the excluder, so they put their nectar down below. The extra entry at the top of the super would be a remedy for that.
 

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>Is it possible that the queen will not lay in frames that are at the top if there is still room to lay down below? This might be a clue to keeping the queen out of the honey supers without using a queen excluder.

I have not used excluders in hives doing honey production since the 70's. The bees want the brood nest consolidated. The only reason you find a patch of brood outside of the brood nest is if there were not enough drone cells in the brood nest. They cannot easily tear down old brood comb, but they can tear down soft white comb and rebuild it into brood comb.

I use all the same size boxes. People ask me "what happens if the queen lays in the supers". I say "if the queen lays in it, it's not a super".
 

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A queen excluder can only be a honey excluder when there is honey to exclude.
I believe, no proof or course, that the queen excluder becomes a honey excluder because it doesn't allow the colony to expand to the size it could expand if it wasn't there. The colony misses the potential to store more than it could if it had larger numbers. Obviously the experts can avoid this problem but we all know everyone on beesource is not an expert.
 

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Is there such a thing as an expert on beekeeping?Same as dog-breeding, horse-training et al. Lots of opinions. Now I'm back to thinking excluders just cause trouble. Put on an extra super and we should be able to get a good harvest, just putting aside any frames with brood (if there are any).
 

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I will quote the ever practical beekeeper Isaac Hopkins (from the Australasian Bee Manual) as he makes several salient points on the results of using one:

“Queen Excluders... are very useful in queen rearing, and in uniting colonies; but for the purpose they are generally used, viz., for confining the queen to the lower hive through the honey season, I have no hesitation in condemning them. As I have gone into this question fully on a previous occasion, I will quote my remarks:—

“The most important point to observe during the honey season in working to secure a maximum crop of honey is to keep down swarming, and the main factors to this end, as I have previously stated, are ample ventilation of the hives, and adequate working-room for the bees. When either or both these conditions are absent, swarming is bound to take place. The free ventilation of a hive containing a strong colony is not so easily secured in the height of the honey season, even under the best conditions, that we can afford to take liberties with it; and when the ventilating—space between the lower and upper boxes is more than half cut off by a queen-excluder, the interior becomes almost unbearable on hot days. The results under such circumstances are that a very large force of bees that should be out working are employed fanning-, both inside and out, and often a considerable part of the colony will be hanging outside the hive in enforced idleness until it is ready to swarm.

"Another evil caused by queen-excluders, and tending to the same end—swarming—is that during a brisk honey-flow the bees will not readily travel through them to deposit their loads of surplus honey in the supers, but do store large quantities in the breeding-combs, and thus block the breeding-space. This is bad enough at any time, but the evil is accentuated when it occurs in the latter part of the season. A good queen gets the credit of laying from two to three thousand eggs per day: supposing she is blocked for a few days, and loses the opportunity of laying, say, from fifteen hundred to two thousand eggs each day, the colony would quickly dwindle down, especially as the average life of the bee in the honey season is only about six weeks.

"For my part I care not where the queen lays—the more bees the more honey. If she lays in some of the super combs it can be readily rectified now and again by putting the brood below, and side combs of honey from the lower box above; some of the emerging brood also may be placed at the side of the upper box to give plenty of room below. I have seen excluders on in the latter part of the season, the queens idle for want of room, and very little brood in the hives, just at a time when it is of very great importance that there should be plenty of young bees emerging.”--Isaac Hopkins, The Australasian Bee Manual

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfaqs.htm#excluders
 
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