Author Topic: Queen excluder?  (Read 798 times)

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Online Nugget Shooter

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Queen excluder?
« on: February 14, 2017, 01:04:15 PM »
Just once again looking for opinions this time on Queen Excluders, yes or not needed? First flow starting and will be adding supers very soon.....  ???
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Offline efmesch

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Re: Queen excluder?
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2017, 01:22:04 PM »
I think you'll find a lot of opinions on the forum against using excluders.  Last year I tried out following their advice---and I regret having not used them.  My experience is that, when the queen is free to roam as she wishes, she invariably goes up into the honey supers and lays eggs there.  That makes for a lot of problems when it comes to extracting.
If managed properly, a good excluder shouldn't make trouble for the hive and it should keep your honey extractable.  The key words are "managed properly".  Excluders, placed on the hive at the right time, with built combs above them to attract the worker bees. You can even put a frame of brood up above to draw the bees there for a starter, by the time you are ready to extract, the brood should have emerged and been replaced with honey.  During a good honey flow, I move my honey supers above the excluder back a bit, thus creating a space for the field bees access to the storage area without having to go through the excluder to get there.
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Offline Chip Euliss

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Re: Queen excluder?
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2017, 01:28:20 PM »
I use excluders for singles but not doubles.  An occasional queen will lay in the first super but they've generally all hatched and the cells back-filled with honey by September.  That's when I pull honey and I only pull it once per year.  Works for me but everyone has a different schedule. Ef's has good advice.
Chip
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Offline Perry

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Re: Queen excluder?
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2017, 05:41:56 PM »
I try not to put them on until the bees tell me different. The last couple of year I waited and 2 weeks after I put my honey supers on half the queens had moved up and started laying in them. >:( I then have to locate them and place them down in the brood chamber and then put an excluder on. If I put the excluder on right away the bees tend to plug up the brood chamber before they will go through it, even though there is drawn comb up there. 6 of one, half dozen of the other. ;D
Whatever you do, don't use an excluder if you don't have drawn comb above it. One of the most common mistakes made by new keeps is wondering why the bees didn't draw out the honey super, but it almost always is because they only had foundation up there.
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Re: Queen excluder?
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2017, 06:10:25 PM »
Thank you folks, as a year 2 fellow drawn comb is not yet a common commodity.... Thank you!
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Offline riverbee

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Re: Queen excluder?
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2017, 06:13:29 PM »
lol nugget, this will be a long discussion............ :D

but a very good one.  there are some great threads and discussions here from the past.  i will try to dig some up for you to read if you haven't already.

very good replies by ef, chip and perry.

i use them, but the key is when to use and not (management and sometimes timing) or your personal preference.
i don't like queens laying in my honey super frames.  this darkens the comb. yes, you can move her out and down,  put the excluder on, the bees take care of the brood, but over time the frames she has laid in darken. 
also, i use a top and bottom entrance so when an excluder goes on the bees have access at the top rather than always taking a field trip up through the hive from the bottom.

and like perry said, do not use an excluder with any undrawn comb/foundation. this is a great hindrance. put the undrawn comb/foundation in, feed til it is drawn (do not rely on a flow) and then decide whether you want to use one.  typically when there is a honey barrier in place, the queen will not cross this to lay in the frames or the boxes above.

EDIT AND ADD:
the best time to get bees to draw comb is in the spring of the season.  you can put them on just before the flow starts, and feed.  if the flow is a decent one, between the feed and flow, the frames will get drawn rather quickly.
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Offline sc-bee

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Re: Queen excluder?
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2017, 08:26:19 PM »
Never use them... nope I am wrong I use them to keep a queen in on a swarm. I guess that makes it an includer.

Offline Robo

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Re: Queen excluder?
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2017, 08:55:06 PM »
I don't use them unless making comb honey.  Like Chip stated, by September they have push the queen down and the brood has hatched (occasionally get a few drone broods across the bottom of a few frames).   If you do use them,  I would recommend rotating them 90 degrees leaving an unprotected strip along the frame ends.   Queens tend to work up the middle of the colony and run into the excluder.  The field bees will lear to go up the ends and avoid the excluder.

They have often been called "honey excluders" for valid reasons.
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Offline riverbee

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Re: Queen excluder?
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2017, 10:31:18 PM »
good point by robo on the comb honey.

i do have my bees making comb honey almost every year (depends on the flow, strength of the hive), so for me the queen excluder goes on for any hive i have frames in for comb honey.  :)
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Re: Queen excluder?
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2017, 08:49:20 AM »
Thank you all for the input and great education, I have opted to add supers without using an excluder this season due to not having any drawn comb to use above it. I may consider other options if I plan to harvest comb honey next flow, but for now this is my plan.  :yes:
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Offline Robo

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Re: Queen excluder?
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2017, 11:31:11 AM »
I think you made the right call.  Excluders and foundation don't work well together.  I find a round or two of brood raised in the honey supers really strengthen the comb for extracting.  It is a catch 22 though,   once they have had brood in them,  they are susceptible to wax moth.
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Offline yes2matt

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Re: Queen excluder?
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2017, 04:46:22 PM »
I think you made the right call.  Excluders and foundation don't work well together.  I find a round or two of brood raised in the honey supers really strengthen the comb for extracting.  It is a catch 22 though,   once they have had brood in them,  they are susceptible to wax moth.
Does a round of brood flavor and darken the honey?

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Re: Queen excluder?
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2017, 05:25:38 PM »
Frames that have had a round or two of brood raised in them become darker, and resulting honey crops from those frames can be slightly darker as well. I find that in my honey supers the lightest coloured comb produces the lightest clearest honey, floral sources dependent of course.
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Offline riverbee

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Re: Queen excluder?
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2017, 06:53:04 PM »
the honey will be darker.
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Offline yes2matt

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Re: Queen excluder?
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2017, 07:23:37 PM »
I think you made the right call.  Excluders and foundation don't work well together.  I find a round or two of brood raised in the honey supers really strengthen the comb for extracting.  It is a catch 22 though,   once they have had brood in them,  they are susceptible to wax moth.
So, a box of drawn comb that has only been used for honey can be stored with less damage? That's bee sweet!
the honey will be darker.
What about on the next use?  I had some med frames the girls raised some brood in them, then I moved them up  (when I went to deep brood boxes) and got some honey out of them. It was brown. If I use those frames for honey again, will they discolor it the same?


Sorry to derail the thread;  I don't want to scrape back to the foundation :/

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Offline riverbee

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Re: Queen excluder?
« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2017, 07:40:02 PM »
you still need to protect the supers from wax moth damage, mice, ants, etc........

"If I use those frames for honey again, will they discolor it the same? "

yes, it will be discolored. not sure to what degree. no need to scrape back to the foundation, just leave it be..........if you mix all your honey together from all the frames it's really not going to matter in the big picture.
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Offline sc-bee

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Re: Queen excluder?
« Reply #16 on: March 04, 2017, 03:19:59 PM »
So you think honey from dark comb is darker? Really? Why?

Offline efmesch

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Re: Queen excluder?
« Reply #17 on: March 04, 2017, 03:37:43 PM »
The combs become darker and stronger when used for brood becuse each time the larva sheds its cuticle (in the process of growing) the discarded cuticle gets pushed againts the inside walls of the cell.  Little by little, these layers build up and add strength, and color, to the comb.  These layers of cuticle arre built of protein, which can serve as esential food for the development of wax moth larvae.  The cuticle also contains molecules of soluble coloring  materials. When honey is later stored in these cells, the color is leached out of the exuviae (the cast cuticle "skins") the color darkens the honey.  Using these frames over and over for honey storage will probably slowly reduce the amount of darkening to the honey, but you'll never get the same light honey as can be produced in freshly built, never laid-in combs.
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Offline Lburou

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Re: Queen excluder?
« Reply #18 on: March 04, 2017, 03:59:39 PM »
There is a landmark article on the subject, but there are still two camps on the issue of using or not using an excluder.  I will use it when the bees tell me to.  :)

Quote
Queen Excluder or Honey Excluder?

American Beekeeping Journal – August, 1985, pg 564-567by G. W. HAYES, JR.
Dadant & Sons, Inc.
Wayland, Michigan

A few years ago while associated with OSU/ATI, I was able to start research on a question that has always sparked interest for beekeepers. I have not been able to finish the preliminary study as yet, but thought that I would share the first thought provoking data that was gathered with the readers of the American Bee Journal. This paper will be presented at the upcoming XXXth International Beekeeping Congress in Nagoya, Japan.
When you mention the words queen excluder at a gathering of beekeepers you have just set the stage for a minimum of 60 minutes of discussion. Every beekeeper has their own opinion of the use or nonuse of queen excluders: when to install them or not, whether a queen excluder not only excludes the queen from the honey supers, but perhaps the honey itself from the honey supers.
As far as can be determined, no one has published data on a controlled experiment to attempt to answer the Queen Excluder/Honey Excluder question. On a small scale I have attempted to begin this research with some interesting preliminary findings.
On the last week of March 1983 16 palletized colonies that had just arrived from overwintering in Florida were moved into one of the selected outyards maintained at ATI. All colonies at this time consisted of four hives per pallet in two deep brood chambers, standard bottom entrances and migratory tops.

In order to test the hypothesis that a queen excluder is also a honey excluder, changes were made to some of the colonies. Of the 16 colonies, six were designated control colonies and were to retain the standard bottom entrance, no queen excluder was to be installed, and they would be supered as necessary. Five colonies were designated to retain the standard bottom entrance, but were to be fitted with a standard wire queen excluder above the second deep and supered as necessary. Five colonies were finally designated to have their bottom entrance closed completely, a drone escape provided, a standard queen excluder was to be fitted above the second deep with an entrance spacer above the queen excluder, then supered as necessary. (See Diagram A)


All colonies were equalized as best as possible for brood. Excluders and upper entrances were installed. The colonies were now left for approximately three weeks to adjust to their new surroundings and to allow the brood used in equalization to emerge before the first brood chamber measurements were taken. The object of taking measurements for approximate square inches of brood visible (open and capped) was to determine in later measurements if the placement or location of entrances and queen excluders affected brood rearing and finally forager population as it correlated to honey stored.

Measurements of the amount of brood were done by utilizing a clear sheet of plastic marked off in one inch square grids. The sheet was laid on one side, then the other, of a brood frame and the appropriate grids were simply counted. This was done three times during the course of the experiment at approximately the beginning, middle and end of the season.

On May 13, 1983 the first brood measurements yielded an average of approximately 170 sq. in. of brood for the Control colonies, approximately 156 sq. in. of brood were measured in the Bottom Entrance/Queen Excluder colonies, and approximately 143 sq. in. of brood for the Upper Entrance/Queen Excluder colonies. Brood was mainly confined to the middle frames of the first or second brood chamber. At this time a 6-5/8 super with drawn comb was arbitrarily added to all colonies to start the season.
Colonies were checked every two weeks if possible in anticipation of the beginning nectar flow and supered as necessary.

The next brood measurement took place on July 7, 1983 in the midst of our white clover bloom. Foragers were bringing in significant quantities of nectar at this time. Brood measurements for the Control colonies now averaged approximately 738 sq. in., for the Bottom Entrance/Queen Excluder colonies the average was now approximately 434 sq. in. and approximately 806 sq. in. for the Upper Entrance/Queen Excluder colonies.

A trend was beginning to take shape with this second brood measurement. In the Bottom Entrance/Queen Excluder colonies the field force seemed to be reluctant to travel through the queen excluder to deposit their nectar load in the honey super. Instead the incoming field force was depositing a majority of their nectar in any available open cell in the two brood chambers. This, in turn, limited the amount of area available to the queen to lay with a resultant loss of population. The brood chambers were “honey bound.” This condition was not found in either the control colonies or The Upper Entrance/Queen Excluder colonies. In fact the Upper Entrance/Queen Excluder colonies had an edge in the amount of brood because of a reverse condition. The brood chambers had good supplies of pollen, but only a very thin band of honey or nectar. The incoming foragers seemed to be reluctant to travel through the excluder with a full load of nectar into the brood chamber, choosing instead to place it directly into the honey supers. Only a minimum amount was brought below, apparently only enough for brood rearing and little surplus.

At this time skunk predation was first noticed. It was most apparent in colonies with bottom entrances, the upper entrance colonies were virtually ignored. As most beekeepers who have had skunk problems know, the small furry animals make nocturnal visits to the hives. The skunk stations itself in front of the hive and scratches vigorously at the entrance with its front paws. The bees respond to the disturbance at the entrance by marching out of the hive. The skunk simply eats them as they appear, being little bothered by stings. The upper entrances made the skunks normal feeding pattern (such as at standard hives) almost impossible because of the entrance height problem posed to the skunk.

On Sept. 3, 1983 the last brood chamber measurement was taken. The Control colonies contained an average of approximately 724 sq. in. of brood, the Bottom Entrance/Queen Excluder contained approximately 386 sq. in. of brood and the Upper Entrance/Queen Excluder colonies approximately 796 sq. in. As can be seen, all of the colonies dropped somewhat in the amount of brood. These drops were not very significant except in the Bottom Entrance/Queen Excluder colonies. At this time skunks had killed outright one Bottom Entrance/Queen Excluder colony and two were very weak. The Control colonies were also being fed upon at night by skunks, but were not as damaged as the Bottom Entrance/Queen Excluder colonies. I am assuming that because of more brood rearing area in the Control Colonies and the resultant larger populations, that the feeding by the skunks was not as debilitating as on the Bottom Entrance/Queen Excluder colonies, the latter having smaller populations as a result of “honey boundness” and less brood rearing area.

On September 6, 1983 the honey supers were removed and weighed for each colony. The approximate amount of honey was determined by subtracting the weight of an empty super with drawn comb from the weight of a super removed from each colony. The average honey stored in the honey supers is as follows. Control colonies 49.0 pounds per colony, Upper Entrance/Queen Excluder colonies 47.4 pounds per colony and Bottom Entrance/Queen Excluder colonies 14.2 pounds per colony.
These figures were derived by adding all poundages of approximate net honey stored per colony type and then dividing by the number of colonies of that type; irrespective of the fact that some colonies stored no surplus because of certain unforeseen variables, (skunks, queen disappearance). This next group of averages represents the average weights of honey stored per colony type with the colonies not storing a surplus (the 0’s) not used in the calculation at all. Control Colonies averaged 58.8 pounds of honey per colony, the Upper Entrance/Queen Excluder colonies averaged 59.25 pounds per colony of stored honey and the Bottom Entrance/Queen Excluder colonies 35.5 pounds of stored honey per colony. (See Table 1)

Table 1
Colony Types   Approx. net weight honey stored per colony
Control
No. 1   74 lb.
No. 4   57 lb.
No. 5   60 lb.
No. 9   0 lb.(2)
No. 11   44 lb.
No. 14   59 lb.
Bottom Entrance/Queen Excluder
No. 2   0 lb.(1)
No. 6   30 lb.
No. 12   0 lb.(2)
No. 13   41 lb.(2)
No. 15   0 lb.(2)
Upper Entrance/Queen Excluder
No. 3   77 lb.
No. 7   68 lb.
No. 8   50 lb.
No. 10   0 lb.(3)
No. 16   42 lb.
Avg. honey storage per colony type   *Avg. honey storage in colonies which stored a surplus
Control…………….. 49.0 lb.   Control…………….. 58.8 lb.
Upper
Entrance/
Queen Excluder ….. 47.4 lb.   Upper
Entrance/
Queen Excluder ….. 59.425 lb.
Bottom
Entrance/
Queen Excluder ….. 14.2 lb.   Bottom
Entrance/
Queen Excluder ….. 35.5 lb.
1 (Skunk kill)
2 (Skunk predation)
3 (Queen disappearance)

These results are quite dramatic in this experiment. It appears from this limited test that queen excluders may well indeed also be honey excluders. From this data the use of queen excluders should be highly coordinated with an appropriate upper entrance. This may well help to maintain the queen in a designated brood area away from honey supers and perhaps maximize the amount of usable, extractable honey.

UPPER ENTRANCE COLONIES
As this experiment was proceeding I could tell that the upper entrance colonies were doing well. So, as a side note I would like to expand on the upper entrance theme based on observations made in the Queen Excluder experiment.
I am sure that many beekeepers have noticed that if an upper entrance auger hole is left open in summer or if there is a crack or gap between supers or perhaps a warped top, that a high percentage of bees prefer this entrance/exit. It was found that a large percentage of all colonies in the wild like to maintain an entrance above the brood chamber. One reason is because the very important brood chamber temperature can be maintained more efficiently than when exposed directly to drafts, breezes etc. from bottom openings. The slatted rack has often been proposed as a remedy to this problem in years past. But by just relocating the entrance to its more natural position, the expense and time needed to make, install and remove the slatted rack is eliminated. In fact it is now my personal opinion that the only reason that we have hives with bottom entrances and a little front porch on the bottom board is because the early designers of bee equipment had front porches and doors on the first floor of their houses so “by-George the bees will too!” If one has ever taken out a brood frame from the bottom brood chamber and closely looked at the brood pattern, it will be seen that this pattern is many times shifted towards the back of the hive and away from the entrance. In the Upper Entrance/Queen Excluder colonies this was not found at all. In these colonies it appeared that the sole restraint to the queen’s egg laying was her ability to lay only so many eggs per day.

Another observation was that on very warm humid days the number of bees hanging outside at the entrance was much less noticeable than that of the bottom entrance colonies. Because of the upper entrance, the brood chamber was being ventilated by natural convection. The warm moist air was rising up and out of the entrance in a natural cycle as outside air entered.
As noted, there was a skunk problem that affected the results in the Queen Excluder experiment. The Upper Entrance colonies were left alone by the skunks, while the Bottom Entrance hives were fed on, heavily at times.

I tried to mow this yard on a regular basis to control weed height as it affected the flight of the foragers. Weed height was not a problem with the Upper Entrance colonies as was the case with the Bottom Entrance colonies. Any beekeeper who has outyards and has ever had to mow or clip the weeds away from bottom hive entrances knows this is a problem area. Many trips to the outyards, and stings on the hands may be eliminated with the upper entrance.

I was much impressed with the advantages of the Upper Entrance colonies as observed in the Queen Excluder experiment. We as beekeepers are constantly barraged with information about how beneficial ventilation and moisture removal is in over-wintered colonies. The Upper Entrance is always suggested as a method to accomplish this in winter and in very warm humid conditions during the summer. There have been many, many articles and whole sections of books written on the upper entrance theme. The Rev. Langstroth’s original book devoted a whole section to the benefits of the upper entrance and some of the most well known researchers in apiculture have also noted the benefits of the upper entrance. Perhaps we as beekeepers should be more flexible, and look more closely at the Upper Entrance as a more efficient year-round option.

LITERATURE CITED
Morse, R. A. 1983. Queen Excluders, Gleanings in Bee Culture.
Root A. I. 1980. ABC/XYZ of Bee Culture page 235, 683.
Townley, E. 1843. A practical treatise on humanity to honey bees. NY. Printed by William S. Darr.
Jaycox, E. R. 1977. Journal Bees and Honey.
Savin. 1970. Vol. 23 Velikost Cesna.
Gojmerac, W. L. 1980. Bees, Beekeeping, Honey and Pollination p. 92.
Free, J. B. and Williams, I. H. 1976. Applied Animal Ethology p. 141-154.


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Offline sc-bee

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Re: Queen excluder?
« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2017, 04:03:28 PM »
Landmark article.... I like that one. I wonder if Jerry remembers writing it 3 decades ago? I always liked to hear Hayes speak. Note key in article..... added upper entrance....

efmesh
 I understand the concept and the fact of the cocoons. I just did not buy into the fact it darkens the honey. But, you give a convincing argument so maybe I change my stance  ;) I'm still smoking the thought over  :)

 

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