Your experiences with checkerboarding

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by milapostol, Feb 24, 2011.

  1. milapostol

    milapostol New Member

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    I read with great interest the article on checkerboarding for swarm prevention in this month's Bee Culture magazine.
    Who has done it and what experiences have you had? I am seriously considering doing this and would like opinions.

    Thanks! :wave:
     
  2. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    if you go to the stickies on the top of general beekeeping forum iddee has posted a sticky with walt wrights articles on checkerboarding and bee management. I myself have never tried it. But find it interesting. Just a quick thought we going to be out in the bay area on the the 5th and 6th of march
     

  3. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    If by checkerboarding you mean keeping the broodnest open, I tried it this last season. Perhaps a variation, but similar idea. Everytime I opened up a hive and saw what I considered to be close to crowded conditions, I removed 2 or 3 frames of honey (frame positions 1-2 & 9-10) and dropped in frames of foundation interspersed in the middle of the broodnest (frame postions 3-5-7 or 4-6-8).
    I only lost 1 swarm that I was aware of (found capped queen cells and eggs but no queen after 3 searches, tried again the next day and as I was looking, heard a roar from the trees behind me. Missed them the day before) :crybye:
    I ended up with about 6 deeps full of capped honey after the summer (after extracting) and used those frames to top up hives I thought might be light on stores in the fall.
    If I was to judge checkerboarding based on my experience I would say it works fairly well, add it to your other tools.
    The only other thing I do is if I find a hive making swarm preparations, I snag the queen and 3 or 4 frames of brood and start a nuc. I leave 2 or 3 of the best remaining capped cells (hopefully reducing any afterswarms) and nick the rest.
     
  4. milapostol

    milapostol New Member

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    Thanks for the replies.

    Riverrat, where in the Bay Area will you be? You can PM me if you want.
     
  5. fatbeeman

    fatbeeman New Member

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    milapostol
    I basically do same as I pull nuc's from my hives I just add new frame of foundation every 3rd day. it does work just lot of hives to open up.
    Don :Dancing:
     
  6. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    Perrybee writes:
    If by checkerboarding you mean keeping the broodnest open, I tried it this last season. Perhaps a variation, but similar idea.

    tecumseh:
    I would suggest that checkerboarding is variation on 'opening up the brood nest' and not the other way around. It seems some folks will reinvent the wheel from time to time and try to call it 'an oval' and then act like they did something that everyone else should view with amazement??? My impression is any number of 'the new and greatest thing in beekeeping' seem to come around on there own cycle of about every 20 to 30 years just like disease epidemics or el nino.

    there are definite downside to the manipulation which some folks seem to wish to ignore. this means boundaries are drawn and those folks who want to 'open up the brood' nest should do so knowing exactly the risk and limits of the manipulation. here I have 'heard' numerous reports (generally by second year bee keepers) of chilled brood dead because a sudden cool spell occurred right after the manipulation was performed. I personally have little doubt that the manipulation also could easily encourage superscedure if the bee keeper was not paying attention to detail. And yes, superscedure will limit swarming with out a doubt.
     
  7. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    I'm curious Tecumseh.
    How could opening up a brood nest encourage supercedure? I will admit that when I tried "checkerboarding" this past summer, it seemed to go against what I had previously thought as law, "don't break up the brood nest". Prior, I found that when adding frames of foundation along the edges of the broodnest, they were not as eager to draw them out. But inserting them directly amongst the broodnest they were drawn out in short order.
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    All you need do to 'encourage' superscedure is to place one frame with some (usually) eggs* or very young larvae toward the outside wall of the box, then place one frame of capped honey, a solid frame of pollen or (as usually the case) a frame + foundation as a boundary between this frame and the main brood nest. Throw in a minor cold snap (or cool night) that makes the bees cluster around the brood area(s). Now you have one small group that thinks they are queenless. The half a dozen times I have done it here they typically rear one cell.

    I also run by the rule not to break up the brood nest. This is not to say I don't open up the brood nest in all my hives this time of year. Here what that means is eliminating obstruction to brood nest expansion (horizontally).... solid frames of capped honey (scratch these just a bit and move towards the outside wall) or more likely here solid frames of pollen I move at least one slot outward or sometimes I remove these solid pollen frames (I use these for queen rearing) and replace with an empty frame of drawn comb. In some regards reversing hive bodies (here in the spring time this means the bottom box is empty) accomplishes much the same thing as opening up the brood nest in the vertical position.

    likely as clear as mud?

    *eggs being not the easiest thing to spot even when my eye sight was better.
     
  9. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Interesting stuff tecumseh.

    I noticed last year that as I went through some of my hives, I would find (particularly in the bottom box) a frame covered in pollen right smack in the middle of brood. Frame 1-2 (honey) 3-4-5 (brood) 6 (pollen) 7-8 (brood) 9-10 (honey). It always confused me as to why they would seemingly be breaking up their own brood chamber. At first, some of the frames containing pollen would be moved out next to the honey (stupid bees, what are they thinking), but after a while I just came to the conclusion they must know what they want and just started leaving them where they were. Hmmm.
     
  10. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    here is how it works for me here Perrybee.

    a solid capped frame of honey will generally only be used when needed... the girls appear not to like to uncap. scratching these frames and moving them toward the bottom entrance* gets these opened out and up fairly quickly. once scratch or uncapped the bees will move these stores fairly quickly.

    a SOLID** frame of pollen is the worst kind of impediment to brood nest expansion. the bees do desire to store it at the existing edges of the brood nest (on a typical frame... worker brood it to the center, drone outside this, then pollen in a band and then nectar). the real problem is the brood nest is expanding rapidly and when the first wave of pollen arrives they store it at the edge of the brood nest and will not move pollen like honey... they do use it, but the consumption is slow. if you desire for the brood nest to funnel up thru the center of the hive then leaving solid frames of pollen in place at the outside boundary of the brood nest does encourage this.

    The bees may 'want' the pollen there but it will act as a boundary to brood nest expansion and I desire for the brood nest to expand (first horizontally and then vertically*) and the only means to encourage horizontal expansion is to move any know road blocks to this expansion (imho).

    *I would guess a honey plug might also be desirable from the bee's viewpoint, but it will also frequently lead to swarming which does not please the beekeeper.

    ** I hope you understand I am talking about a solid frame of pollen and not just a dab of pollen here and there on a frame???
     
  11. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    So moving them (frames of pollen that are smack dab in the middle) out towards and next to the outermost frames of honey is probably the right way to go.
    Thanks
     
  12. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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  13. milapostol

    milapostol New Member

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    Interesting discussion.
    We asked our teacher, Serge Labesque, about checkerboarding and he likes baiting more than checkerboarding.
    I was under the impression that I would only checkerboard in supers above the brood nest, to never break up the brood nest.
     
  14. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    milapostol:
    I understood "baiting" to mean putting a couple of drawn frames in the center of a new box full of foundation (on top of the brood chamber) to lure the bees up and get them to draw out more comb, usually done with honey supers.
    Checkerboarding is more of a swarm control method. I would not use it to get comb drawn as much as I used it to alleviate congestion in the brood chamber as well as giving the young bees in the brood chamber something to do (make wax, something bees only do at a certain stage in their lives I believe).
     
  15. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    The way I understand the above posts, one beek is removing a couple frames from the bottom box and placing them in the top box, replacing them with a couple of empties from the top box. It is called checkerboarding and is done for swarm prevention.

    Another beek is removing a couple frames from the bottom box and placing them in the top box, replacing them with a couple of empties from the top box. It is called baiting, and is done to get new comb drawn.

    Would it be all right if I did it for both reasons?
     
  16. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    LOL
    Sorry, I guess I wasn't totally clear on my version (not the first time). When I tried checkerboarding, I removed frames of (brood chamber) honey from the hives, period (saved 'em for a rainy day so to speak). I replaced them with frames of foundation interspersed right in the middle of the brood chamber itself. I did not do anything different with my honey supers, actually I can't because I run different size supers. I do it so that I cannot swap brood frames with honey super frames.
    But I guess if the same thing is being accomplished but for different reasons, I'm OK with that. :mrgreen: :drinks:
     
  17. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Maybe I'm getting senile, but I have read most of Walt's articles and don't remember him taking any out and storing them. Maybe you can give your method another name and get famous for it. :p :wave:
     
  18. milapostol

    milapostol New Member

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    It reminds me more of the game called "Battleship". Oooh, maybe a more benign name would be in order.
     
  19. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Maybe I could call my variation "borderchecking"?
    Ooooooh, may be not, sounds kind of invasive! :shock: :mrgreen:
     
  20. Omie

    Omie New Member

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