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Queen Excluder and Bee Space


#1

I am new to bee keeping - have only been at it for a year now. I currently have a three medium box hive with a Queen excluder between the the two brood boxes and the honey super. I have found that when replacing frames in the honey super, there is no bee space between the bottom of the honey super frames and the Queen excluder, which makes it almost impossible to replace frames without squashing bees… get a little propolis or wax on there and I have trouble even getting the frames to stand upright because they no longer hang from the box but sit on the excluder.

I have only ever used bee thinking langstroth boxes, so was curious if anyone else has had this problem and was curious what other people were doing to fix this. I have temporarily added a spacer between the excluder and the top box, but now I have bee space above and below the excluder - will that be a problem down the track?

Any advice would be appreciated!


#2

Howdy, and thank you for reaching out to us! Congratulations on what seems to sound like a successful first year of beekeeping. Your medium set up, in the 8F set up is our most popular Langstroth configuration. Here are some thoughts I have in

  1. Squashing of bees is ALWAYS a concern to every beekeeper, and I suggest trying a new method. Instead on putting the frames down directly, have 2 or more frames out, and try to drop the frames on one side, and slide (or sweep) them into place. This will scurry the bees to safety.
  2. Use of the queen excluder, if stacked with comb + propolis can push up the frames from underneath, it’s suggested that though these are beneficial in to bees, you might want to wipe the excluder down upon each inspection to ensure this isn’t the case.
  3. You can shim or create a spacer between the boxes, but beware, the bees might find the space too generous, and build ‘bridge comb’ connecting the two together that allows bees easier access between boxes. This might prove to be a mess when going in for spring inspection, and you’ll need to clean it up by a little scraping action!

Cheers,
Cameron + Bee Thinking Team


#3

Thank you Cameron. I will definitely take your advice into consideration. Forgive my ignorance once again, but I am curious what the implications would be if the boxes and frames were built in such a manner so that the bee space was at the bottom of the frames instead of the top? That way the queen excluder could slide on to the top of the brood box/frames easily without much worry of making a bee guillotine and basically sit on the top of the box and frames, while the honey super frames could easily be set above the queen excluder maintaining the bee space between the bottom of the honey super frames and the top of the excluder. Obviously this would have a ripple effect on the rest of the hive boxes, shifting all of the frames up slightly, but I can’t see it being a problem with the bottom board or the lid. It seems like the impact of this change would also be negligible to those folks that prefer the Rose Hive method and do not use excluders.

Like I mentioned in my original post, I have only used bee thinking’s hive boxes… so maybe all langstroth hives are the same? I’ve read Langstroth’s book, but I will have to go brush up again…

Trent


#4

Howdy, Trent – You make some great observations with this beehive. The Langstroth beehives on the market are all, or should be, built in accordance to Lorenzo’s original 1852 Patent that laid out all the specifications. We adhere to it. Note, Lorenzo didn’t invent the Queen Excluder, that came around circa 1865 by Abbe Collin, and use of it changes up the dynamic just a little. The bee-space is on top of the frames. Here’s the theory you lay out. IF someone were to mill shallower rabbeted cuts for the frames, then your flipping the position of the bee-space from above the frames to below the frames of upper box, you still have a bee-space issue.

  1. You are correct in your observation.Use of the excluder comes with extra management and cleaning.
  2. Shimming can help, but expect bridge comb to develop so the bees can work their way up through this new space.
  3. In short, don’t drop your frames, slide them in from the side. Using a QE does require more scraping of wax and propolis, just the nature of having an un-natural object inside the beehive.
  4. You can also consider the natural approach of not using the Queen Excluder (remember, it wasn’t originally designed with one), as generally the queen will work in the lower regions naturally, and you might likely find the upper box completely brood-free.

I hope this clarifies things, please reach out if you have any further questions or need clarification!

Best,
Cameron + Bee Thinking Team


#5

Hello thrappe,
I’m new to this, but I think if you use a wood bound excluder it will be suspended in the middle of the 3/4 inch wood and will give you around 1/4 inch extra space on top and bottom of the excluder. Just my thoughts. Although if your using a 8 Langstroth box it’s near imposable to find a wood bound 8 frame exclude. I had to make my own and cut a metal 8 frame excluder down to fit the wooden frame. Best of luck, hope this helped.