Navigate / search

How to use a double-screen board

What is it?

A double-screen board is about 1-inch deep with an opening in the center. The center opening is covered with screens on both sides so that bees on one side of the board cannot contact bees on the other side of the board. It often comes with openings in the rim that can be toggled open or closed. These are in pairs (an upper and a lower) on each side of the board. Some boards have a total of eight openings, some have just six.

This piece of equipment is also known as a Snelgrove board, after L. E. Snelgrove who used it to control swarming. His method—a bit complex—is a subject for another day. However, there are many other uses for his clever invention.

How is it used?

1.  For queen introduction

1.1  When introducing a new queen to an especially strong hive, pull a frame or two of emerging brood and a frame of honey out of the brood chamber and replace them with empty comb or foundation. Remove the old queen.

1.2  Place the double-screen board on top of the chamber

1.3  Place another box containing the emerging brood, honey, and the caged queen on top.

1.4  Open one of the back entrances so the newly emerged bees can come and go.

1.5  After a few days, release the queen in the upper box.

What is the benefit? Newly emerging bees will be more accepting of a new queen than the old foraging bees. After a few more days you can close the back entrance and open the front two. This way the bees will slowly start to mix. After a few more days you can remove the double-screen board completely.

2.  For combining two hives

2.1  Place the double-screen board between a queenright and a queenless colony before combining to allow them to adjust to the new scent.

2.2  Open an entrance to the top box on the back.

2.3  After a few days, close the back entrance and open the two front entrances to allow the bees to mingle. Later, remove the double-screen altogether.

What is the benefit? It allows the scent of the queen to circulate throughout the boxes before the bees can come in contact with each other.

3.  For over-wintering a weak hive

3.1  Place a double-screen board above the brood box of a strong hive and then put a weak hive above it.

3.2  Open one of the entrances so that the bees from the weak hive can come and go. This entrance should be on a different side than the entrance for the lower (stronger) hive.

What is the benefit? In this way, the weak hive gains the benefit of the warmth from the hive below, but the hives remain separate. It improves the chances of winter survival for a weak hive that might have trouble keeping warm.

4.  For moving a hive in hot weather

4.1  If your bees must be confined to the hive in hot weather, fasten the double-screen board on the top of the hive in place of a solid cover. Nails or screws can be used, but screws do less damage.

4.2  Make sure all the toggle entrance are closed.

What is the benefit? This is basically the same as a “moving screen” which provides extra ventilation to bees that have limited ways to keep the hive cool.

Rusty
HoneyBeeSuite

Comments

Doug Fairclough
Reply

Hello !

on this page :

http://www.honeybeesuite.com/uses-of-a-double-screen-board/

you write :

2.3 After a few days, close the back entrance and open the two front entrances to allow the bees to mingle. Later, remove the double-screen altogether.

How do the bees intermingle? Is it because the two front openings are close to each other? I have an LW hive which is strong, and a queen right swarm I extracted from deep in a vent and numbers are down.

So, I bought a double screen board. Oddly it only has 6 openings (none in the back). So I will somehow cut a back opening. When back opening is closed and front is opened, the bees are able to find the new opening in the front?

It was suggested that after I go through the steps and remove the DS board, I should put the queen in a 4″x4″ cage on her brood (1 board) for a few days AND use newspaper between the two hives. But I thought maybe since I have used the DS I perhaps may not have to do those steps? I guess I could still get the queen in a cage for a few days just in case.

Great site !! Thx.

Doug Fairclough

Rusty
Reply

Doug,

When you close the back entrance, the bees in the top box will begin leaving by the front entrance. When they return, some will use the entrance that leads to the top box, and some will use the entrance that leads to the bottom box. Thus, they slowly mix, and since air has been flowing between the two boxes through the screen and distributing the queen’s pheromone, no alarm signals will be initiated.

As I said in my article, many double screen boards only have six (not eight) openings, so you can use a side entrance instead of a back one. It doesn’t matter. When the new entrance is being used, bees will stand by it and fan their Nasanov glands so the other bees will learn where the new opening is.

I’ve never used a queen cage after using a double screen nor would I use newspaper. You have to trust the screen to do what is was designed to do. If I didn’t have a double screen board, then I might use one of those other techniques. Just because there are multiple techniques available doesn’t mean you have to use them all at once–just pick one and go with it.

My only concern with your question is it sounds like you have two queens. Do you have two queens or have I misunderstood?

Doug Fairclough
Reply

That makes total sense to stick to one technique and not jumble them; in this case, to trust the double screen board approach.

I have a very small queen right colony that I extracted from deep in a stove vent; they had been there a bit and numbers were down. Plus, the queen was a probable virgin queen – small and I saw her return from a flight a few days after I had settled them into a NUC. Strange to see the queen stick a landing and walk on into the entrance! I waited a few weeks for the queen to start laying on a brood board I had added from another hive to give them a boost.

The second hive is a lot bigger, an LW hive that had a lot of the resources that I felt the smaller colony could use. I got the laying to stop while I was waiting for the stove vent queen to start going.

So it seemed like a good combination of hives to.. combine.

At that point I came across your article, and the DS board seemed more controlled than using newspaper or a queen cage.

I followed your prescription and removed the DS board yesterday.

Thx again for the article and the clear instructions on how to proceed. I’ll post an update. One thing I’m wondering is how long it will take the queen to move down into the deep of the LW hive, which is wide open in terms of space in which to lay.

Doug

Rusty
Reply

Doug,

It shouldn’t take much time at all. A few minutes, a few hours, for a queen to move down. If the comb has been prepared for her, she will be looking for it.

Frank Thomas
Reply

Hi Rusty. This double board sounds like a very useful tool. I have 2 first year hives now experiencing their first Michigan winter. And it’s starting out strong. The winter that is. I am worried about one hive being a bit weak. The colony had a lot of weight in the fall but just a month ago it seemed much lighter and the activity does not match the stronger hive.

With our 20 something degree days we are in, is it too late to try and stack the weaker hive on top of the stronger with a double-screen board between them?

Thanks!

Rusty
Reply

Frank,

No, it is not too late. Just have everything ready to go and then move fast.

Frank Thomas
Reply

Rusty… I finally gout out to check my 2 hives. I tipped up the outer cover and quilt board (based on your design) as a single unit and to my surprise each hive had a thick cluster about 10″ in diameter on the top bars. No idea how deep into the frames it went. I hope alot.

So with a month of below freezing temps, many in the single digits, I am pretty pleased. My only concern is that they are right at the top of the stack. Should I be concerned about that?

Thank you!

Rusty
Reply

Frank,

Bees on the top bars usually means they have eaten through their food supplies. Feed them solid feed (hard candy, fondant, or granulated sugar) as soon as possible. If you get a warm day, you can open the hive and rearrange any honey frames so they are close to the cluster. In the meantime, feed them right away.

Frank Thomas
Reply

Thanks Rusty. I have one medium super of Buckwheat honey that is about 80% full in reserve. I could split that between 2 mediums, add drawn but empty frames to fill out the sides and put one on top each hove. Sound good?
Plus feed too?
The honey has been out in my unheated shop so maybe I will bring inside for a couple days to watm up first?

Rusty
Reply

Frank,

You have a medium super of buckwheat honey in reserve? I would kill for a teaspoon of it! Damn, do I ever miss buckwheat honey.

That aside, yes, your plan to feed back the buckwheat honey is perfect (but sad . . . sigh). You can wait on sugar supplements, but do check on them periodically to make sure they have enough. Warming the honey isn’t necessary, but it won’t hurt either.

Frank Thomas
Reply

I am sure I will get more buckwheat next year and I would be happy to send you some. A small thanks for the wisdom you share freely here.

I made up some 1.5″ ekes yesterday and I also made up sugar cakes last night. I going to give them a cake each on top of the buckwheat.

Interestingly, this past August I planted a 10’x12′ patch of buckwheat just 75′ from my hives. I saw all kinds of bumbles and other bees on it but never saw a single honeybee on it. Not even in the morning. But I got about 8 medium frames of it in September. They got it from somewhere. Personally I didn’t care for the taste. Kind of molasses flavor with a sourness at the end. Beautiful molasses color too. I assume it is buckwheat honey.

Rusty
Reply

Frank,

I think most people don’t like the taste, but it’s the only kind I had as a kid and it’s by far my favorite. Your description of the taste sounds exactly right. Have you read my post Cemetery Honey?

Frank Thomas
Reply

Haha . . . you gave me a good chuckle. I just read “Cemetery Honey” and now I see why buckwheat is your favorite. It’s safe! Great story, Rusty. I really need to get you some of that safe honey now.

Rusty
Reply

Frank,

I am already looking forward to it . . . haven’t had any in years!

brian evans
Reply

I have a strong hive with a superseger queen cell. Can I use the double screen board to make a split and put the queen cell in the top and the old queen in the bottom? And after the new queen emerges, I will put the top in a new hive. Will that work? Thanks

Rusty
Reply

Brian,

That will work if you end up with a queen in both hives. But if it really is a supersedure queen cell you are seeing, the old queen may be failing and they may be replacing her for a reason. Pay attention if you do this.

Sarah
Reply

Hello Rusty,

I’m interested in the double screen board as a possibility for overwintering a weakish hive on top of a stronger one. One of my hives definitely would be a candidate for this treatment, as it’s numbers are quite low. However, I’m also wondering if it is too late to simply requeen (today is September 6, and where I live we have weather in the 50s/60s till early October, though frosts most nights beginning in mid/late September). I’ve never requeened in the fall, though I think it’s not uncommon. In your opinion, should I try it? I’ll probably build a double screen in any case…it sounds like a very useful tool when needed, and this year may be the time it’s needed!

Rusty
Reply

Sarah,

You can certainly re-queen now but you will probably wind up with a small winter colony anyway. It’s just that time of year. If you think your current queen is weak, re-queening now can give you a better build up in the spring.

Peter D Day
Reply

Hello Rusty,

I plan to use the Snelgrove board to put a queenless hive on a queenright hive. Both hives are in my apiary. How do I encourage the bees in the queenless hive to reorient to the new hive? I’m worried about them going back to where their hive was and getting lost. Should I keep them closed up for a day or two?

Thank you.

Vince
Reply

Is there a site that shows how to make a double screen bottom board? I think I have figured it out but would like to make sure.

Rusty
Reply

Vince,

I’m sure there is. But I will also pass this request onto our official hive architect.

Leave a comment

name*

email* (not published)

website

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Why are winter bees so important?Because ...
+