Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

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trekmate
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby trekmate » Tue Aug 04, 2015 12:56 pm

I have both solid & screened bottoms in top-bar hives. The screened bottoms are permanently closed. The reason for the screens was initially monitoring for Varroa, but as I treated less and less there seemed no point in building in an extra complication.

In "Natural Beekeeping" I always try and relate to what bees do in the wild - live in hollow trees. We don't get hollow trees with screened bottoms here! :lol: In hotter climates I'd suggest that the thickness of a hollow tree gives greater insulation to allow the bees to control their own atmosphere. As already said, open screened bottoms allow ambient (hot or cold) air into the hive. I let the bees work their own magical air-conditioning system.

I've just put a swarm into a top-bar hive with two inch thick pine walls and lots of insulation above the top-bars. Early days yet, but waiting to see if that has any effect compared to my more usual 3/4 inch walls.

I live in NW England which is generally cool and damp and VERY windy, hence keep 'em closed. On the occasional day it can be still and hot (90 - 95 F)
Last edited by trekmate on Sat Nov 19, 2016 7:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

ToeOfDog
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby ToeOfDog » Wed Aug 05, 2015 12:18 pm

I use solid ,screened BB. Take a screened bottom board and build an oil pan that fits tightly to the bottom of the screen but is removeable as a slide drawer. The idea is that the colony can chase the SHB through the screen where they are sliced up by the DE.

During the winter We cant open the hive from about mid Nov til sometime in Feb or early March. You can examine the debris on the white oil pan and tell what is going on. About mid January you can see the first brood capping crumbs. You can tell how many frames have emerging brood. You can see the clear wax of new comb building.

My main directive is look at a bee tree and try to imitate. My hive are under the branches of the forrest's edge and i dont have a SHB problem. I run small entrances that allow for minimum ventilation. We have heat indexes of 100 to 110*F this time of year and humidity you can cut with a knife <GG>.

A few years ago I threw a recording thermometer in to a white vehicle with the windows rolled up. It got to 150 *F within the hour. Why is the conventional wisdom you must put your hives in full sun? I would assume that when the temperature gets above 93 to 94*F, brood incubation temperature, the colony switches to airconditioning mode. The only thing an open SBB will do is let 100*F air in.

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Michael Bush
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Michael Bush » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:02 am

> Why is the conventional wisdom you must put your hives in full sun?

Because they are always healthier and more productive in the sun. "Conventional" wisdom was always "morning sun, afternoon shade" but experience has resulted in most people going for full sun. Then the small hive beetles came along and really tipped the scale...
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
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Gordon Miller
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Gordon Miller » Sat Aug 08, 2015 9:44 am

Started bee keeping late summer of 2014. Had SBB with oil tray and solid bottom last year and I did observe Hive Beetles and some Larva in the oil tray, but did not observe a infestation in the comb.
This year I went with solid bottoms, and I have Hive Beetles larva destroying my comb.
It is true my Hive is not strong, but I believe I'll go back to my former arrangement to manage the hive beetle.
Unless some one plants an attractive alternative idea.

NC, 8 frame, top entrance, Russian strain, struggling

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Michael Bush
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Michael Bush » Tue Aug 11, 2015 8:56 pm

>This year I went with solid bottoms, and I have Hive Beetles larva destroying my comb.

Probably humidity is the difference. SHB need a certain humidity to hatch.
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

Chuck Jachens
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Chuck Jachens » Fri Aug 14, 2015 1:12 am

My top bar hive all have screened bottoms that are about 5 inches wide and 44 inches long. SHB has not been an issue but I have had them in a hive that had to small of population to defend the empty comb. Once they built up, they were fine, and they ran off the SHB and wax moths and repaired the damaged comb.

This summer has had some hot afternoons but the only noticeable changes is the noise level during particularly hot days (near 100 F). the bees have local water sources and large population so I think they are handling the heat just fine. I think its good to mention that its working for my local conditions, somewhere else it might not be so good. The need to observe and think why the bees are doing something is critical.

I have noticed that the bees heavily propolize my top bar gaps and the follower board. If I want to move the follower board, I need to cut it off first. However, the screened bottom not not have any noticeable propolis on it. Why would they be so free else where but not the on the screen?

This is why I have bees, I get to ponder stuff like this!

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elderken
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid--RATIONALE

Postby elderken » Fri Aug 21, 2015 9:02 pm

I'm in Central Arizona, 3500' elevation, high desert, quite dry, USDA Zone 8a.
I built all my topbar hives with 1/8" screen bottoms with 1/4" plywood right below that.
Early August, when we were in the middle of our monsoon season with, high for us humidity ranging 20% to 40%, I removed the plywood bottoms. My bees seem much more peaceful.
Nite4.jpg
Here they are a few nites ago plugging their 1 1/4" round entrance. Temp was mid 80's.
You can see the edge of the screen bottom.
Nite4.jpg (258.06 KiB) Viewed 1999 times

I don't know how else to describe it. Almost no bearding, the bees are less defensive. In fact, today upon opening a hive, I feared they had absconded, because they didn't come out when I removed empty bars from the back of the hive. However, they were all in there working away.

Earlier in the summer, I had problems with comb collapse. I believe the screen is allowing them to keep the hive cooler.

But now the question arises, "Do I replace the solid bottom this fall?"
We get winter low temps in the teens with cold spell lows in the twenty's for a week. Moisture is not a problem. Our humidity normally runs in the single digits to low teens.

Can we get a discussion?
Ken
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Luke Luke 9:23-27

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trili
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby trili » Sat Aug 22, 2015 1:17 am

I have the same concerns, though I am located in the Sierra Nevada foothills, temp ranges are similar. I have screen bottoms, and I was leaving the solid insert out for the summer, for ventilation, however another thread had a post suggesting that it was just letting the heat in (twisting my perspective) and causing the bees to work harder to keep the hive cool, so I put the bottoms back on.
I can see no difference in behavior after putting the bottom back on. It has been hot but I have not noticed any bearding.
I had the bottoms in for the winter, and had a huge condensation and mold issue and needed to add some ventilation I pulled the bottom back leaving an inch of screen open and lifted the top a bit with no noticeable change in behavior, but they did not seem to be affected by the moisture and mold either.
This whole bottom thing is a puzzlement. I am making some long hives and can not decide if I should screen the bottom, or make them solid.
I think that you would want to replace the bottom as the weather starts to cool off, especially if you are in an area that gets much wind.

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elderken
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby elderken » Sat Aug 22, 2015 1:57 am

Trili, I guess this is where the art comes in. I'm hoping to hear some ideas with specific suggestions regarding temperature, etc.
Ken
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Luke Luke 9:23-27

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trekmate
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby trekmate » Mon Aug 24, 2015 7:35 am

Condensation is caused by humid air hitting a cooler surface.

Speculation:
Thinking back to bees in a tree, there is no additional ventilation in the summer, but they have at least 6 inches of wood between them and the outside world giving at least six times the insulation of the average hive. Extra insulation around the hive will keep warm in when it's cold outside, but allow the bees to keep the inside cooler when it's hot (by fanning/evaporating water). With temperature extremes I feel insulation (that is reasonably breathable) could be the answer. I'm not lucky enough to have the high extremes here to have checked for myself....

Any thoughts/experience for or against?

Chuck Jachens
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby Chuck Jachens » Wed Aug 26, 2015 6:05 pm

Natural cavities in trees that bees would hive in has qualities that we can't duplicate very easily or cheaply. A living tree has sap running in its camdium layer to move water up to the leaves and nutrients down to the roots. This helps regulate the temperature of the tree trunk and provide a stable environment for the hive. Also the wood will absorb excess moisture from evaporating water from the nectar. The top of the hive when located n the tree trunk has a large thermal mass above it to hold heat and this area would have a much higher amount of insulation when compared to the sides of the hive/tree.

Today's hives don't have the thermal capacity nor the qualities of a cambium layer, so we need to create a balance in the hive where the bees can survive and thrive in all seasons. It really depends on the local conditions. If a hive has to much moisture then more ventilation is needed. If combs are collapsing from to much heat then more insulation is needed (or shading).

The Warre hive was designed with thick sides and a large quilt/pillow of insulation on top of the hive to mimic a tree hive. The draw back is unmovable combs that can not be easily inspected.

My top bar hives have thicker sides (1.5 inches thick), peaked roofs, and narrow screened bottoms during the summer. During the winter I add a batten of insulation between the top bars and the roof and cover up the screened bottoms.

I wonder if a Warre style top would be a benefit to Langstroth hives? and under what conditions?

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ExpatBeekeeper
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Re: Bottom Boards - Screened or Solid

Postby ExpatBeekeeper » Wed Aug 26, 2015 9:38 pm

I put quilt tops on all of my langs... simply take a shallow or medium, halve it, make two quilt boxes from the halves. Easy!
Beekeeper, Meadmaker, Teaboy, and Gopher. Richmond, VA


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