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Gaps between follower board and floor

 
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johno
Guard Bee


Joined: 08 Jun 2014
Posts: 60
Location: Limerick, Ireland

PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 4:20 pm    Post subject: Gaps between follower board and floor Reply with quote

This is a persistent problem with both of my hTBHs. The bottoms of the walls are not horizontal, and as a result the mesh stapled to them has a slight curve in it. It only curves up about 5-7mm from the edges to the center. However, this means that the base of the follower boards doesn't sit perfectly flush on the floor. The bees seem to love ignoring the entrance holes I carefully drilled in the walls of the hive and crawl under the follower boards into the empty cavity at the other side.

I've tried a number of solutions to discourage them:

- Inserting 2 or 3 follower boards in sequence, they go right under all of them.
- Inserting cardboard strips under the follower boards, they chew or push them out of the way.
- Longer follower boards, these boards just sit up a bit higher and give the bees an additional space to get out between the wall and the topbar.

This might sound trivial but it's actually quite serious. I sometimes find 100s of dead bees stuck in the empty cavity. I'd appreciate if anyone else has found a solution to this problem and could share it with the rest of us. I tried searching the forum for an answer, but pretty much every post includes the words topbar and bee...

cheers,

johno
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mal
Nurse Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2013
Posts: 44
Location: Rutland, Leicestershire, UK

PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi johno - I have mesh floors and cut my followers to mesh shape.
I assume your followers are too short to cut now (else they'd be pushing the mesh flush or sitting proud of the top of the hive body)
How about cutting an inch deep strip of thin board/ply, cut to shape and nail to one side of your follower ?

mal
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jumbleoak
Scout Bee


Joined: 03 Aug 2010
Posts: 295
Location: UK, England, Kent

PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do you have top bars over the areas on the far sides of the follower boards? If so, then they can't be using these routes as alternative entrances/exits. In which case, the other possibility is that they are dumping dead bees there on purpose - like bee graveyards.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1567
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the majority of us have follower boards that are not bee tight and it is not an issue for us.

Jumbleoak is absolutely right.
You need to make sure that the empty cavity part of the hive is bee and wasp tight by having top bars butted up tight, right across the whole hive. If bees can get out through there other bees and wasps can get in. That might not be a problem now if the colony is strong but if they swarm, the remaining bees may become vulnerable to robbing via this back door, so you need to close it down.

My bees certainly like to use this area as a "bee cemetery", so if you are finding dead and dying bees there it is unlikely to be because they couldn't find their way back, but rather that they were too dead to make it back under the follower.
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Adam Rose
Silver Bee


Joined: 09 Oct 2011
Posts: 582
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You could just relax and see what happens. One thing that might happen is that the bees propolise the gap when autumn/winter comes. It depends on how big the gap is.

The other thing you could do is get some pond liner, cut it to shape but deliberately a little big, and staple on to the inside of the follower. Then if you manipulate the follower properly as you put it back, you can kind of curve it so that there is tension pushing the pond liner extension into the gap. This tension is usually enough to make it bee tight. You'll have to experiment a bit to see what I mean.

Pond liner has a nice combination of being stiff, inedible, but easily bent and cut. And cheap.
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johno
Guard Bee


Joined: 08 Jun 2014
Posts: 60
Location: Limerick, Ireland

PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Firstly, I just want to confirm that the space behind the follower boards is bee tight. The topbars cover it tightly from end to end and the entrances are blocked with wine corks. However, I spent 20 minutes lying under one of the hives today and saw dozens of bees wandering aimlessly around the empty cavity. There were bees squeezing under the follower board every 10 seconds on average. They weren't carrying dead bees, they just seemed lost and confused.

Adam Rose wrote:
You could just relax and see what happens. One thing that might happen is that the bees propolise the gap when autumn/winter comes. It depends on how big the gap is.


This has been going on for a year since I installed my first hTBH. Last week I found one of those hives dead with about 400-500 dead bees in the empty cavity. I've been cleaning it out regularly and usually get over 100 at each visit. So I did relax and see what happens, and I didn't like it.

Adam Rose wrote:
The other thing you could do is get some pond liner, cut it to shape but deliberately a little big, and staple on to the inside of the follower. Then if you manipulate the follower properly as you put it back, you can kind of curve it so that there is tension pushing the pond liner extension into the gap. This tension is usually enough to make it bee tight. You'll have to experiment a bit to see what I mean.

Pond liner has a nice combination of being stiff, inedible, but easily bent and cut. And cheap.


This is exactly the kind of suggestion I was hoping someone would come up with. I knew there had to be an elegant solution but I just couldn't think of anything except cardboard and wooden wedges. I don't have any pond liner but I have an old inner tube from a tractor wheel. I'll cut a few strips of that and try stapling them to the bottom of a follower board.

As someone else said, all my follower boards (11) are now too short to go down the route of cutting a mesh shaped curve into them. I really didn't want to discard 11 follower boards for the sake of 5-7mm of wood. Thanks so much for helping me tackle this issue.

johno
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biobee
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 1051
Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good idea. Or use eco-floors and fill to the required level...
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Lacewing
Guard Bee


Joined: 08 Sep 2012
Posts: 96
Location: Powys, Mid Wales

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="Barbara"]I think the majority of us have follower boards that are not bee tight and it is not an issue for us.

I think it is a problem when making a split though. From what I've seen here anyway - even with a gap between the two halves.
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BBC
Scout Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2012
Posts: 398
Location: Bicker, Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2015 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't normally post in the Top Bar Hive section, as I don't run Top Bars ... but ... I spotted your thread title and it coincided with something I've worked with in the past with my framed Long Hives.

Much depends on what you're using the Partition Board for. If you really need it to be bee-tight, then make the board from (say) half-inch thick material with a substantial gap all around it. Attach rubber 'draught-excluder' to the edges, and wrap a strip of thick polythene sheet over the excluder, stapling it to both sides of the partition board. The soft rubber will take up the gap, and the polythene will prevent the bees from chewing the rubber to bits. The kind of rubber extrusion used around car doors, for example, would be better than domestic draught-excluder (imo). BTW - this idea isn't mine - I read about it in one of the 'old books' on beekeeping (I've forgotten which one, now), where the guy used oilcloth, rather than polythene.

Myself - I use Partition Boards solely to reduce the volume of a single occupancy hive when introducing a small colony, and have found that a 1.5" gap along the bottom edge effectively stops the problem of bees squeezing through the inevitable small gaps and being unable to find their way back. When opening such hives, I seldom find any bees within the 'void area'. No doubt they do investigate that space, but find nothing there of any interest, and so return to their combs.

Such an easily accessible space would lend itself well to the installation of a simple feeder, such as the 'crock feeder', as described by Dr CC Miller in 'Fifty Years Amongst the Bees' (1911).

'best
Colin
BBC
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Bees build Brace Comb for a reason, not just to be bloody-minded.
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2015 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not really even a big problem when you have two colonies in the same hive. Youi must always have TWO followers boards in between but they seem fairly happy with small gaps. I took some thick masking tape and formed a "skirt" around the follower board edges. When placing the follower board in I then had the skirt facing into the colony. There was a little chewing but who cares it is only masking tape.
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Lacewing
Guard Bee


Joined: 08 Sep 2012
Posts: 96
Location: Powys, Mid Wales

PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2015 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This skirt idea sounds like a good one. - Think I will try the pondliner as I have some scraps. Even with two followers I've my suspicions about the separateness of divisions. Esp. since a worker brought up out of the space between the two, when I took bars off the top a few days ago, a perfect-looking little dead queen. - And they were, I thought, really roaring and apparently queenless. (I know they do use that space as a graveyard though.)
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