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Author Topic: Follower Boards - a question  (Read 797 times)

Offline CoolBees

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Follower Boards - a question
« on: February 26, 2019, 11:55:33 pm »
How tight of a fit do follower-boards need? I'm thinking of making some for use next winter, and this question comes to mind.

Do they need to fit tight to the sides of the box and to the bottom board?
Can they be loose fit? How loose?
Is "less than 1 bee-space" ok, (bottom, top and sides)?
Will more than 1 bee-space work?
What are the best criteria for spacing these?

Your thoughts and observations appreciated.

Thanks
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Offline blackforest beekeeper

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Re: Follower Boards - a question
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2019, 01:53:54 am »
Hey Coolbees,
I am using follower boards in almost all my boxes. They are the same size as the frames, so the bees go under, sides and over.
If you want to divide boxes (bee-tight), the boards are called differently, I think?
If the follower boards are a few Millimeters too small, doesn`t matter. But the bees do build, so if they are way too short, they will start drawing combs underneath and on the sides.
good instrument if you plan on natural comb.

Offline robirot

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Re: Follower Boards - a question
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2019, 05:39:05 am »
Follower board, for just keeping the bees brood area limited, but allowing acces to the area behind them are build to the same dimensions as a frame.

Divider Boards, that split a box into compartments, are build to the inside dimens of the box.

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Follower Boards - a question
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2019, 08:20:30 am »
X2 what was already mentioned. Keep bee space in mind when putting anything in your hive. If there is more than a bee space the bees will build wax. If there is less they will propalize it into the hose and make it hard to remove. Don?t worry about the area below the follower board, just make it the same size as your frames.
Jim

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Follower Boards - a question
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2019, 09:44:13 am »
If the follower is just to make less space for the bees to manage, it can leak bees some as long as you have bars (or frames) on the other side of the follower in case they decide to move into that area.  If you want to put another colony on the other side of the follower it needs to be bee proof.  If you notch it into the box and the bottom it's pretty doable.
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Offline CoolBees

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Re: Follower Boards - a question
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2019, 03:14:18 pm »
Thank you guys. That question has been bugging me. I think I've got it now. Sometimes the simplest things throw me, until I've seen it or had it explained.    :happy:

Maybe this fall the bees will have it a little easier, with a smaller space to heat thru the winter.

Alan
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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Follower Boards - a question
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2019, 04:43:26 pm »
The most important thing is to keep the wind and draft off of them. That being said,
I received a call for bees in a tree in late April, several years ago. It was an open air hive that started in late February as a softball size  swarm. It was one of the coldest springs in a long time. They called me because it was now bigger than a football. I do not know how they survived the cold and rain with no protection.
Jim

Offline blackforest beekeeper

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Re: Follower Boards - a question
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2019, 05:08:47 pm »
I don?t know if it is true that the bees can maintain more warmth in winter (you don`t have a winter, anyways). I always thought so, too, but didn`t squeeze them too much in winter due to food reasons. So thereusually was a frame or even two without bees if it was cold.
Insulation of the ball-shaped cluster is good, surface minimal. If you squeeze them, they are in a prolonged cube, like a box. Surface is larger. So heat-loss is even more, mathematically. To minimize the disadvantages, some beeks in Germany use insulated follower boards, walls and insulated coverings.
This winter I didn`t squeeze them with follower boards. Reason being a "cement honey" and pine honey in the combs. With cement, they cannot use it in winter. Pine honey, too much fibre or something pressing on the bladder. So I wanted to make sure they could easily access all the feed they wanted.
Bees came out of winter just fine. Better than the last years, really.

In Your case i presume the bees breed all winter long. And every few days at least they will be able to access the feed "behind" the follower board. So as long as you have a surplus of bees "inside" the follower board (packed with bees), they should be fine with follower boards. And maybe better off, even. But for me - a long time believer in squeezing bees - it is a "maybe" still.

Follower boards in my (present) opinion are more or less only a means for the beek to control and steer the doings of the bees. Esp. concerning building comb and comb-hygiene (being able to remove old comb). And of course: Squeezing the honey up thru the excluder...

Offline Dallasbeek

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Re: Follower Boards - a question
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2019, 06:58:05 pm »
BFB,
What kind of hive do you use?  You write about a follower board, which seems to be top bar, but then write about ?up through the excluder.  You may have said earlier the type of hive you use, but I?m lazy.
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Offline robirot

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Re: Follower Boards - a question
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2019, 08:25:35 pm »
He is using Dadant Hive (Langstroth Jumbo 12 Frames), which is quite popular in germany and usally used in combination with a follower board, and restricting the bees onto 8 frames during summer.


Offline blackforest beekeeper

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Re: Follower Boards - a question
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2019, 02:02:21 am »
Almost correct. I use 9-frame Dadant-boxes (jumbo). So the area of comb equals 11 Langstroth deeps. 12 frames is just a huge and heavy box...
I got 9 frames due to the fact that I can use standard european pallets, two hives side to side. If my forklift was larger, I`d be using 4 hives on a pallet. But my own self-design and -build forklift handles half a pallet with two hives better.
Just to be able to use space on transportation vehicles very effectivly. Everything designed to take standard pallets (120 cmx 80 cm).
The supers are half-jumbos (shallows) with 8 frames.
Most of my nucs fit 3 on half a pallet, two excluders and two standard supers go over those (once the queens are laying). 5 frames, which equal 6 deeps.

I used to be giving about 7 frames for the brood-nest, only rarely 8, sometimes less than 7, depending on the queen. The follower board makes it very easy  to pull frames. Just move it aside and all frames can be moved to the side. Inspected frames just slid to the other side. During swarming season I didn`t bother to push them bakc, just put the follower board on the other side.
But I am planning to using all 9 frames this season. Makes manipulations more awkward (like most beeks do it, really), but I got more stores of honey for dearths, which can happen in my area. Also more pollen and a more "round" brood-nest.
Currently most hives are on 6 frames (did that two weeks ago), one to three combs behind the board (in some I am using frame feeders as a follower board. I will add another two combs or frames with foundation once they start "exploding" (which this year might come soon) and an empty frame for drone-comb. on this drone-comb I will be able to see swarm-cells easily and won`t have to look at all combs on inspections.
Some will get 3 empty frames just to see what they are up to and due to the fact that wax is expensive or let`s rather say: I don`t have the impression I got enough wax and don`t want to buy any anymore.

Offline robirot

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Re: Follower Boards - a question
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2019, 04:43:38 am »
@bfb Geller Beute?

How satisfied are you? I was thinking about going 8-9 dadant (paradise beebox, with 2 shallows stacked as brood box).

But atm rather plan on 10 frame langstroth and go single broid chamber. But atm have a couple single story Segeberger and allready problems with fitting all bees unto those, even had to give the first supers on the 1.5 s and in a couple ,two story hives. To give space.

Offline blackforest beekeeper

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Re: Follower Boards - a question
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2019, 04:53:12 am »
It ain`t the Geller, no. I know Geller`s design and am not so for it. It is not unlike the Liebig. I got my own system. If you give me your email, I can send you, if needed, pictures.
My hives are like wooden langstroth-hives. Beespace underneath the frames, top bars level with the rim. I put an excluder the same outside dimensions on. Much qucker, less dead bees. Works fine.
If I ever get to too small broodchamber, I`ll add a super with old comb.
Up till now I had a anti-slipping system not unlike the migration tops in US, the anti-slipping-system being on the OUTSIDE of the boxes, not inside, which I find disturbing (Liebig, Geller). I will try to not using such a system this year for the first time, as I got a forklift now. The bottom box sits on the floor board quite fixed, through by a system like Ian Steppler uses.

I don`t see the need for more space than 9 frames dadant in the brood compartment, not a t the moment at least.

Offline CoolBees

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Re: Follower Boards - a question
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2019, 08:50:22 pm »
"In Your case i presume the bees breed all winter long. And every few days at least they will be able to access the feed "behind" the follower board. So as long as you have a surplus of bees "inside" the follower board (packed with bees), they should be fine with follower boards. And maybe better off, even."

Yes, they do breed all year here Blackforest. But the cluster still drops below 5 frames - at least they did before I killed off the mites - next winter I may have to learn everything over again.

"Follower boards in my (present) opinion are more or less only a means for the beek to control and steer the doings of the bees. Esp. concerning building comb and comb-hygiene (being able to remove old comb). And of course: Squeezing the honey up thru the excluder..."


Very interesting. I hadn't thought about squeezing the cluster to move honey storage up. Comb removal definitely makes sense.

Do you place boards on both sides to center the cluster? Or just compress from 1 side only?
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Offline CoolBees

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Re: Follower Boards - a question
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2019, 08:54:06 pm »
The main reason I began to think of using follower boards, was after the experience of moving a hive frame-by-frame from a 3-high Nuc over to a full size body ... that seemed like a waste of energy, and an un-necessary disruption of the entire hive. So I thought I'd just start splits in a regular hive body from now on, and compress them with board(s) until they grow into the box.
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Offline texanbelchers

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Re: Follower Boards - a question
« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2019, 10:26:51 pm »
I use 8 frame medium boxes.   They are completely unfettered right now,  but I'll squeeze them down to 6 over 6 with followers and QX by April.  It pushes honey up and all 12 frames stay packed with brood.  It seems to help cut swarming, too.

This year I'm considering doing cut down splits and dropping in a qc, but that's a different story.

Offline CoolBees

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Re: Follower Boards - a question
« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2019, 11:45:56 pm »
"I use 8 frame medium boxes.   They are completely unfettered right now,  but I'll squeeze them down to 6 over 6 with followers and QX by April.  It pushes honey up and all 12 frames stay packed with brood.  It seems to help cut swarming, too. ... "

8 mediums are what I use also. I bought the 5 deep nuc bodies from Mann lake and cut them down to mediums. 

Very interesting that it cuts swarming - thank you for that.
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Offline blackforest beekeeper

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Re: Follower Boards - a question
« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2019, 03:11:41 am »
I don`t center them, no.

In the case of the transfer: Maybe it just wasn?t the right time. If they are packed with bees and lots of brood about to emerge, they`ll take the larger box in no time. Set them at the side, so they only have one "open" frontier.
But, of course, in any other case, a follower board does make sense! Lots of things to learn by using them, too.