After several years of trail, error, and testing in our own yards, we’ve finally come up with a new design for our bottom board that we’ve had enough success with so as to be able to release it into all of our new client’s hives for the 2016 season.
You’ll notice that this new bottom board has only two small entrances, one on each side, for the bees to access the hive. Additionally, these entrances are partially blocked by heavy duty screening. What we’ve created here is a board board that doesn’t require the additional purchase of an entrance reducer or a, less than pretty, metal mouse guard. Over the years, we’ve seen significant damage done to hives by mice up to and including the destruction of the colony itself when it is dormant and unable to react to the intrusion. We’ve also been amazed at just how little space is needed to mice to get into a hive. The small cut out in a standard entrance reducer won’t keep them out and they can get through a metal mouse guard by bending it. This new design has solved the mouse issue in our own hives and nucs, is one piece, and doesn’t require additional items to be added to the hives.
Yes, this is a solid bottom board. Yes, we know that a lot of people like using screens to keep hives cool in summer and so they can use sticky boards with grids printed on them so they can spend their evenings counting mites and parasites that theoretically drop through the screen onto the sticky board. We’ve used both over the years and have opted to stick with the solid bottoms exclusively. At Eco Honeybees, our views are this: In regards to solid versus screened bottoms, first off, metal screens rust away over time and the bottoms are not that strong. Secondly, we opt more for keeping the hive warm during the colder months than cool in the summer. If the hive interior gets warm, the bees will happily hang out on the exterior of the hive. And, lastly, while doing mite counts is nice, this works under the assumption that you can have a hive that is totally free from parasites. We work from the other assumption end. We assume that every hive has parasites to some degree and treat every one of our client’s hives as if they do. A smart beekeepers who sees no mite or parasite evidence on a sticky board is still probably going to treat for them just to be safe. We have the same view and therefore feel no need to do mite counts.
Old fashioned purists will also notice that we’ve done away with the traditional “landing zone” porch that has been pretty much standard back to the beginnings of the Langstroth hive. Please remember that porches are for people and a porch on a hive is there only for our own amusement. While some might think the deletion of the front porch is heresy, quite frankly, the bees just don’t care. Our Top Bar hives never had landing zones, and feral hives in trees or attics also don’t have them. We know these bottom boards are very different from the norm but they work for us very well. Most things Eco Honeybees does deviates from the norm! We’ve been told that what we’ve been doing is the first substantial change to beekeeping in the past 120 years. Beehives for non-beekeepers? Unheard of! Why should our bottom boards be any different?
Here are some photos of our new bottom board: