Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

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Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby ExpatBeekeeper » Thu May 21, 2015 3:19 pm

I've seen many arguments online about which is best. I'd like to take some facts and even observations (just not dogma or because the dude at my club said so, which are still reasons for your choice but don't help me make an objective decision) and then try and come to a decision myself.... I don't just want to know what you use, but your reasons for doing so.

For example, I know the IPM argument, that mites that fall through the mesh of a screened BB have difficulty getting back into the hive (or in my case immediately get eaten by some huge black ants I have living near my hives). I know that Tim Ives has observed an increase in honey yields from solid BB when doing an A/B comparison between solid and screened hives of similar genetic makeup in the same yards.

My problem is I'd like more solid data, with which to satisfy my skepticism, so I can try and establish if there is a clear advantage to either over and above it's opposite.

Thanks in advance.

T.
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby COAL REAPER » Thu May 21, 2015 3:34 pm

i stopped using SBB last year. too many SHB and wax moths living under the screen, especially coming out of winter. cleaning out underneath the screens may have helped that, but i wasnt interested in taking the time to do so.
this year and last i feel hives brooded up earlier with solid bottom boards. this year even moreso from leaving entrances reduced.
sorry, not really solid data, but thats my experience.
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby ExpatBeekeeper » Thu May 21, 2015 3:39 pm

That's exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for... I don't experience this problem because I have non solid stands, so everything that drops through the screen falls two feet, to receive death by ants. In your experience do you find that the bees keep the solid BB clean and tidy from all the crap that collects in the bottom?
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby COAL REAPER » Thu May 21, 2015 3:55 pm

yes, for the most part. there is some buildup around the corners. coming out of winter they are using the top entrance and dont bother much to clean the bottom board until there is heavy traffic and they start using the bottom entrance. i still have less volume of bees going through bottom entrance now, but it is increasing. i think our main flow is just about to get started here.
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Nate K » Thu May 21, 2015 4:02 pm

If you follow the hive as a condenser thought process, than solid bottoms are the best. I use solid bottom boards as it more quickly evaporates they honey. This may be the reason why Tim Ives sees an increase in honey yields(quicker allocation of space means more available room to store!)

This also helps with creating a water supply inside the hive without needing to dedicate field bees to this task. Its estimated that 20-30% of the hive at times is dedicated to gathering water. The water laden nectar condenses on the cooler hive walls and the bees can use it or remove it easily. This also helps to regulate the hive temperature as no heat is removed in this process.

Now, to go one step further, I use the Eco floors, that I fill with scrap wood shaving and decomposing wood and charcoal. Trying to recreate the habitat bees would find in nature in a tree stump or hollow tree.
Hope my viewpoints are helpful.
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby ExpatBeekeeper » Thu May 21, 2015 4:07 pm

have you been running the eco-boards for long enough to glean any opinions as to their efficacy?
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Nate K » Thu May 21, 2015 4:39 pm

I will be able to give a real evaluation the end of this year on the Eco-floors. As of now they seem to be doing great.
Its a nice way to regulate temperature inside of a Nuc.
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Michael Bush » Thu May 21, 2015 7:06 pm

I'm too cheap to get rid of my SBB. I have about half and half. I only buy the solid ones now as I can use them as feeders if I need them. I don't seen any difference as far as Varroa.
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Tyson Kaiser » Fri May 22, 2015 2:54 am

I use SBB for roof hives only, and only in extreme circumstances. I see my hives that don't have them next to one's that do and see no real marked difference. Heat issues are my greatest concern so I've been making vented bottom boards that are covered with screen, a local beekeeper swears by them for ventilation and SHB control. Whether that's true or not I like the design and just make them myself, with swivel gates.

My point is there are options if you're willing to build, it doesn't have to be an either/or.

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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Nate K » Fri May 22, 2015 12:41 pm

Tyson makes me want to qualify my posts, beekeeping is purely local.
I live in the northeast, and heat isn't really a problem. Down south or out west they have that issue whereas I do not.
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Solomon » Fri May 22, 2015 5:48 pm

When I first started beekeeping, I converted some of my bottoms to screens in a varroa control attempt, before I saw the light. I have never noticed a difference in any metric, compared to other hives. However, I have noticed that the bees will not use the lower half of the bottom box, presumably due to too much air movement.

Later on when I saw the light, I realized that varroa control was a fools errand. Even if it worked (surveys say it don't) I should not be doing things to help the bees with mites. They should handle it on their own. So I quite using them. I do still have a few left, and some screened lids that I used for moving hives. I should probably just throw them away since I now use other methods for keeping bees in when I move hives.
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Tyson Kaiser » Fri May 22, 2015 7:31 pm

Solomon wrote:However, I have noticed that the bees will not use the lower half of the bottom box, presumably due to too much air movement


This is part of the reason I stopped, bees seem to abandon the lowest box and instead just use it as a thoroughfare, the air moving below seems to rob the hive of it's heat and atmosphere. I know of some that try to alleviate that by putting in a slotted rack but this seems like far too much equipment to maintain a bit of airflow in a hive, hence my vented bottom boards.
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby ExpatBeekeeper » Sat May 23, 2015 1:35 pm

All beekeeping is local. This is why I was keen to disuss here. Since I run Foundationless, 100+ F in the summer can be quite dangerous for making wax really soft, so I went for screened initially to give the bees an easier time in summer. But what you said about the bottom box is right and a constant source of annoyance. I'm kind of in the middle here, I'm not hot like Texas, but much warmer than PA for example. I've never run screened BB for varroa, but my philosophy was alway, if it does then that's a bonus for me, but never tracked it before in terms of BB.

Tyson's slightly vented bottom board however looks like it could be an interesting compromise
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Chuck Jachens » Tue May 26, 2015 6:09 pm

I am using top bar hives and screened bottoms which are 6 inches wide running the length of the hive. My summers are hot (100 deg. F.) and very dry (single digit humidity). I track the brood nest activities on the ground from capping pieces and comb building from bits of new wax that fall through. I can also see bits of pollen that they drop. I also watch how much of the pollen patty falls through to gauge if it needs to replaced because it has dried out too much. A few bees also use the screened area under the combs to transfer nectar to the bees inside the hive which maybe connected to the use of a periscope entrance.

In the winter, I close off the bottom with a the board about 3 inches below the screen. I check the board for moisture and to see where the cluster is at. I use a peaked roof and put a batten of insulation over the top bars helps the water condense on the sides rather than the top bars. I originally planned on converting to eco floors but I get way too much info to lose the screened bottoms.

I don't treat for mites other than feed 1:1 sugar water and pollen patties in the spring if they need it. In my opinion, there need to a large gap between the SBB and observation board. Insulation wise, I think that inch or more of dead air space helps mimic a cavity hive.

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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby ExpatBeekeeper » Wed May 27, 2015 1:37 pm

Chuck/Tyson, what are the average and max summer temps where you are? I note that many people in places like FL all run Screened. I'm wondering if my max temps will be ok or too high for solid.

Thanks
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Chuck Jachens » Wed May 27, 2015 3:16 pm

Rescue, CA
The average high is 95 F and a low of 60 F in the middle of summer. Humidity averages 30%.
I know that we get to 100 F for a number of days in a row many times during the summer.
I also get late afternoon shade which helps moderate the very hot days.

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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Tyson Kaiser » Wed May 27, 2015 4:29 pm

ExpatBeekeeper wrote:Chuck/Tyson, what are the average and max summer temps where you are? I note that many people in places like FL all run Screened. I'm wondering if my max temps will be ok or too high for solid.

Thanks

My min temps are 45, max is 100 but average hot days are more like 85-95. My screened hives are only on roofs, and I'm even phasing them out.
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Rhbush318 » Wed May 27, 2015 6:46 pm

Can someone elaborate on the "hive as a condenser thought process"?

Also, how does using a solid bottom board make honey evaporate quicker?

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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Chuck Jachens » Wed May 27, 2015 7:11 pm

Water condenses on cooler surfaces first. It is a matter of heat transfer, the more insulation, then the slower the heat loss. If the top bars are insulated, then the sides are exposed to the cold (less insulation) then the water vapor condenses on the sides. This condensation then runs down the side and doesn't drip on the cluster.

Water evaporation from honey depends on a lower humidity of the air passing over the honey. Humidity has an inverse relationship to air temperature if the amount of moisture in the air stays the same. As the bee raise the air temp. in the hive and more air across the combs, the relative humidity goes down allowing the air to carry more moisture. As this warmed air is passed over the honey, the water evaporates.

Moist air rises which is why a top entrance is desirable. Since I am using top bar hives with a periscope entrance, top ventilation is not happening, which is why I chose to used screened bottoms. I think it is more a question overall hive ventilation then if there is a screened or solid bottom.

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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Solomon » Wed May 27, 2015 7:17 pm

Clarification, does moist air rise or does warm air rise?

In my experience, moist air has a higher density than dry air and so falls. For it to rise it would need to be warmer, which makes sense coming from a cluster.
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Chuck Jachens » Wed May 27, 2015 7:21 pm

If the air temp is the same, then the moist air will rise faster.

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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Solomon » Wed May 27, 2015 7:23 pm

What are the physics?
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Solomon » Wed May 27, 2015 7:26 pm

I looked it up, you are correct. The molecular weight of water is 18, and the average molecular weight of air is 29. Therefore the greater the proportion of water vapor, the less dense the air will be, therefore rising.
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Chuck Jachens » Wed May 27, 2015 7:30 pm

The molecular weight of air averages almost 29 versus water is 18.

See refence: http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/densi ... d_680.html

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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Solomon » Wed May 27, 2015 7:50 pm

I would also point out that in a typical hive, a convective current could be imagined that enters the front entrance, travels up through the cluster, heated and increased in water vapor, then reaches the top and begins to cool, traveling down the sides of the hive, perhaps condensing water there, then out the front entrance again.
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Rhbush318 » Wed May 27, 2015 8:32 pm

If a solid bottom board encourages convection currents in the hive and increases evaporation, does a solid bottom board reduce the temperature inside the hive?

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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby ExpatBeekeeper » Wed May 27, 2015 10:40 pm

This would support the philosophy of Ed Clark posited in Constructive Beekeeping (https://archive.org/details/cu31924003100306) as mentioned by Nate earlier, that the hive acts as a large condenser.
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby COAL REAPER » Thu May 28, 2015 1:00 am

Solomon wrote:What are the physics?

This debate is ongoing with firewood stackers, bark up vs. bark down
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Solomon » Thu May 28, 2015 2:15 pm

I find after a few years, the bark rots right off.
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby ExpatBeekeeper » Thu May 28, 2015 10:32 pm

Just put a solid bottom board on one of my busy Russian hives when I nadired an extra body. Will be interesting to see what happens.
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Nate K » Fri May 29, 2015 1:01 pm

Rhbush318 wrote:Can someone elaborate on the "hive as a condenser thought process"?

Also, how does using a solid bottom board make honey evaporate quicker?

Let me do my best at it. First; how to do it.
You use a small entrance hole, and a completely sealed hive. No inner cover. The bees will propolis every hole that air escapes from and close the hive completely. The bees heat the inside of the hive, and when the heat from the hive meets the colder side walls, the water vapor condenses and forms condensation.
The water can be used internally for bee bread(ongoing discussion whether bees use nectar or water to combine with pollen for bee bread), it can bee used to cool the hive by the bees moving it on the comb and cooling the comb.
This is also great because there is no heat lose in the process as by evaporation. The hive temperature and pheromones stay mostly the same through this process. With screened bottom boards the hive needs to fight to keep the hive at homeostasis.

As Ed Clark describes it, the massive quantity or air needed to evaporate nectar in the hive in modern terms, you would need a large fan placed directly under the hive to force the amount of air into the hive. Under normal circumstances, the hive will never move this amount of air.
To much nectar coming into the hive, and nectar not drehydrating efficiently leads to a honey bound hive. Increase the efficiency of nectar dehydrating and have a happier hive!
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby beekeating » Fri May 29, 2015 6:29 pm

Seems this debate leaves no clear answer thus it is probable to assume the bees do not care and can do fine with either? So if the bees do not care, the question becomes what do us humans prefer :lol:
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby augustc » Thu Jun 18, 2015 3:50 pm

I am going to move over to ecofloors on all my hives eventually. My screened bottom hives I seem to just leave covered anyway.

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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby lharder » Fri Jun 26, 2015 1:04 pm

I listened to a Tom Seeley talk yesterday. Part of the information was that when bees choose a nest site, they prefer an lower entrance less than 75 square centimeters in area. He did his work in the NE USA I believe. Perhaps the answer to this question is what do local adapted feral bees prefer locally. Its also possible that we pollute local genetics with so much bee movement that the finer points of local adaption are washed out. We get generic answers because of poor genetic diversity.

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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby ExpatBeekeeper » Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:08 pm

Yes, he goes into this in great detail in "The Honeybee Democracy"
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Chuck Jachens » Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:37 pm

Part of the information was that when bees choose a nest site, they prefer an lower entrance less than 75 square centimeters in area.


I am a little handicapped when it comes to metric areas so I did the math....
75 square centimeters is a little less than 12 square inches or a 4 inch diameter hole

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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Michael Bush » Thu Jul 09, 2015 6:30 pm

>All beekeeping is local. This is why I was keen to disuss here. Since I run Foundationless, 100+ F in the summer can be quite dangerous for making wax really soft, so I went for screened initially to give the bees an easier time in summer.

The problem with this thinking is that bees with a very small entrance (in trees etc.) manage to keep the hive quite cool (no more than 93 F in the brood nest). if it's 100+ F outside and you leave the bottom wide open it's like opening the door with the air conditioner running. They CAN'T cool it when there is too much ventilation.
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby lharder » Fri Jul 10, 2015 5:29 am

So my bottom entrance of about 14 by 3/8 fits into the bees preferred parameter. We have had 38 degree C weather the last few days, no bearding except on a single story medium nuc. I added a second story as soon as I saw it, no more bearding.

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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby EMassingill » Wed Jul 22, 2015 4:14 am

I don't use them for IPM, but for education as a new beekeeper. I have four of six hives with them. I pull the board out about two inches to let bees have access to the area between the board and the screen. This reduces the hive beetle/wax moth larva on the board. I close it all the way in the winter. I still like to pull it out weekly and look at it. You can see tan cappings in lines to know where the brood is emerging. You can also see dropped pollen and propolis. Last year I had one hive with a lot of dead mites also and that hive did not survive the winter. The other day my wife said something was going on at one of my hives with a lot of bees in the air. I couldn't get to it right away, but the first thing I did was pull the board and there were no torn white cappings, which would have indicated robbing. It was just orientation flights of the first big group after hiving a swarm. Dr Mangum has a book on top bar hives and it has a section on what you can tell is going on from just looking at the bottom board. The down side is that you really need to pull them weekly and scrape them clean. I found three larva today. I will not be adding any more screened boards to my apiary but I have just used them as a tool as a non invasive way to see what is going on in the hive.

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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby EkiPoPo » Tue Jul 28, 2015 11:44 pm

ExpatBeekeeper wrote:Chuck/Tyson, what are the average and max summer temps where you are? I note that many people in places like FL all run Screened. I'm wondering if my max temps will be ok or too high for solid.

Thanks
I live in Fl temps have been in the 90's most every day for a couple of months. Had screned bb for a couple of years and switched back to solid last year and got rid of the last couple of screened this year. Noticed with screened bb bees would beard under the screen instead of on the front. Also seemed to increase robbing when pulling honey the open floor increased the smell of honey especially when broken comb and honey would drip through the screen. I know of 2 commercial operations that use solid


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