Checker Boarding

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42 Responses

  1. Doug says:

    Thank you for this easy to understand description of Checkerboarding. After ordering and reading Walts literature on it, and following the Beesource wrestling match on the subject, you laid it out, and I got it. I think it is logical and if it works for you, I’m trying it over here in Idaho.

    Thank you Dennis.

    • Jeff says:

      Looks like good info. I am coming on my second season and would like to try this on two hives. One hive is currently three deeps with excellent stores of honey. The other is two deeps with good stores.

      It would seem that the three deep hive would have an opportunity to checkerboard, whereas the two deep hive may just need a frame rotation?

      Thanks,
      Jeff

      • Jeff says:

        One question that pops up in my scenario is that I don’t have a stash of drawn comb to use. I’ll need to checker board with foundation and frames of capped honey. Pitfalls to be aware of?

      • -bW says:

        Hi Jeff

        I don’t have any experience using foundation when checker boarding. Years ago, other beekeepers tried to use it, for the same reason. And I think Walt Wright experimented with it as well. But I can’t recall anyone sharing their results.

        Walt Wright occasionally posts as WCubed at BeeSource. Think I’ll drop in there and see what he has to say.

        -bW

      • -bW says:

        Here’s a link to that BeeSource thread:

        http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?p=641384#post641384

        I’m the BWrangler at BeeSource as I once wrangled my bees. But now I know a better way!

  2. Serge says:

    Hello Dennis,
    Thanks so much for sharing your experience with CB. Did you get to do any CB with your Russian bees? and if so, could you please share your experience?
    Thanks so much!
    -Serge

    • -bW says:

      Hi Serge

      I did CB my Russian bees and their descendants. The Russian clusters start out smaller. Brood expansion is closely tied to flow conditions. And spring flow conditions are erratic at best here. The Russian bees would go into a conservative mode and stop rearing brood when outside flight was restricted. My mutts would keep chewing through their honey supply as long as it was above a minimum amount. So, CB’s early benefits were hit and miss with the Russians.

      But by late spring, when the bees could freely fly, not much difference was seen between the Russians and my own mutts. Very little swarming occurred in ether group. But the Russians would always have a few emergency queen cells available throughout the year.

      At the time, I wondered if CBing the smaller Russian clusters, later in the season, might be beneficial. I’ve found that smaller clusters tend to do better when hive space is restricted. But I didn’t test the idea.

      -bW

      • Serge says:

        -Good info. Thanks again Dennis.
        -Lookin at the surprising picture of the Checker boarded hives in early spring, (4-5 deep high), makes me wonder how high they got at the peek of the season.
        -bWennis, you mention that “With checker boarding, less than 10 percent of my hives wanted to swarm. Without checker boarding, over 90 percent wanted to swarm.” With the 10% that wanted to swarm, do you have a good guess what was maybe happening different in those hives, like possibly congestion or something else? And do you mean that they actually swarmed or had signs of swarm preps?
        Thanks
        Serge

      • Serge says:

        Hello Dennis,
        Thanks again for the wonderful website!
        You mention that the swarm reproductive cutoff date occurs during the third week of June in your area (Wyoming?). Do you find that this is at about the peek apple bloom in your area like it is for Walt?

      • -bW says:

        Hi Serge

        It’s a few weeks after the peek apple bloom. I suspect our cooler, unsettle Wyoming weather delays the swarm cutoff.

        Sometimes there’s not much bee flight time for the apples here.

        -bW

      • Serge says:

        Thank you, that makes sense.
        Dennis, I wonder what is a good way for me to figure out the swarm reproductive cutoff date for my area?
        Do you still like checkerboarding and using it as a standard management practice with your hives?
        Thanks
        Serge

      • -bW says:

        Hi Serge

        Swarm reproductive cutoff? If you cut cells to prevent swarming, there will be a time when cutting cells won’t be necessary. That’s a good approximation. The more hives involved, the better the estimation. So, it’s also possible to get a good estimate by talking with other local beekeepers.

        But it’s not essential to know much about the technicalities of checker boarding to make it work. It just has to be done early enough and then it works regardless of how the season changes. A beekeeper can just set it and forget it.

        Still? Yes! Running three deep brood chambers naturally and checker boarding are the management practices which make my beekeeping successful in Wyoming’s tough environment.

        -bW

  3. Mitch says:

    Thanks for the info in checkerboarding in a colder climate. Any experience with checkerboarding with Carniolans? I’m in Ohio and have thought about experimenting with Carnis, but wonder if checkerboarding will sufficiently relieve their increased buildup and swarming tendencies.

    Thanks for the info on your site!
    Mitch

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