What is it?


Or what are they?


Do any beekeepers know?

I picked two of them up for next to nothing at a Bee Auction in Beverley. A bargain!
They were ‘national’ size and so well made that I was sure somebody would know what they were for. I like experimenting and thought they might lead to new learning.

But nobody knows!

The best I can come up with is that they are an alternative to a queen excluder. A queen will only lay her eggs in comb which is maintained at a certain temperature. Any cooler and the comb is ignored by the queen, and used by the workers for stores. The board would prevent the frames above the brood area from warming up and so the queen might be discouraged from using them. However it would also make the drawing of the upper comb harder too.

I temporarily used one as a base for my swarm vac, as the fan outlet, which has now been replaced with mesh.

I can’t think of any other use for them.

What do you think?


poste update: 30th June 2017
RESPONSES to the question: What IS It?

Thanks to all the excellent replies I got, mainly on FaceBook pages of beekeeping groups, to my question “What is it?”. It certainly seems to have opened up a few discussions and, in the process, got us all thinking about beekeeping techniques, past and present.
There were lots of suggestions, all of them logical, and I list them here:

Winter crown board
Queen excluder
Winter fondant feeder
Clearer board
Brood splitter for queen rearing

The actual responses for each suggestion are below and I have summarised all the information at the bottom:

Winter Crown Board – responses
PN – I’ve read about this described in a beekeeping book by Frank Vernon. Crownboard with ventilation at the sides so you don’t get the chimney effect through the broodnest as with an ordinary crownboard. A possibility maybe?
LG – Crownboard for Winter
TL – That’s exactly what it is. Allows airflow (and condensation) around the cluster to minimise dampness.
GG – Crown board. I have some old ones. The extra holes are for extra ventilation for when used with a hive with solid floor.
MA – This is captain Tredwell,s ( of Hampshire England) top crown board 12 mm holes all the way round to help ventilate the brood box all winter and matchsticks between the board and roof for the same purpose now we have varroa floors we don’t need them
‪Over 50+ years old I still have some and still going strong
MA – There was an old Vicktorian lady beekeeper from Gosport by Portsmouth England who had WBC,s and cottage hive who use to put quilts on the top of her hives too keep the bees warm all winter 42 years ago when I first started beekeeping.
‪What goes round comes round eventually

Queen Excluder – responses
IC – Provided link to Dave Cushman’s site which has it listed as queen excluder.
click here to see the relevant page > > http://www.dave-cushman.net/bee/excludertypes.html
IC – It’s not about physical restriction. It works by behavioural restriction. The brood nest is typically ball-shaped and in the middle of the brood box. The queen will not walk miles outside the existing brood nest to stumble upon a passage to another box; she will stay within the brood area, so will never encounter the holes.
I have to say, this is less so in modern poly hives, as the hive walls are not appreciably cooler than the middle, and you often see brood on the end frames, which is not so much the case with wooden hives.
I do think this kind of excluder is less reliable than, say, a Herzog one, but OTOH, it’s cheaper, and you can make it yourself!
PN – Probably quite a useful board. Queen excluder like you said. Queen rearing and to stop chimneying in supers.

Winter Fondant Feeder – responses
KDL – the queen could easily get through there so not an excluder, could be for ventilation or a feeding board for sugar candy ?
SH – Feeding board

Clearer Board – responses
DR – I think its a clearing board.
SC – I reckon the holes are for pushing those orange cones into for clearing bees from supers…

Brood Splitter For Queen Rearing – responses
PN – Possibly for queen rearing. To split 2 broad boxes so the top box will make queen cell. The bees have access but queen pheromone is limited.
PN – Probably quite a useful board. Queen excluder like you said. Queen rearing and to stop chimneying in supers.

Eke – responses
PM – possibly an eke


Summary of responses
There doesn’t seem to be a clear winner as all the suggestions seem to have some merit, and perhaps the boards are multi-purpose. Some experimentation is called for I think.
Some thoughts:

On the crown board – Captain Treadwell sounds like an intriguing figure but I can find little information about him and none about his winter crown board, though he does appear to have designed a ‘long hive’ very similar to a ‘top-bar’ hive, and which was even more similar, coincidentally, to my Badger Proof Hive documented on this web site. Nothing is new eh?
The spelling of his surname may be ‘Tredwell’ and following a lead in one of the responses I found a Capt. E.J. Tredwell mentioned in the history pages of Hampshire beekeepers and I’m pretty sure it’s him. Click here to read the relevant page > http://hampshirebeekeepers.org.uk/history-the-first-100-years/
If any of you have any old beekeeping books then perhaps a quick look in the Index might be helpful to us all. I’ve looked through all mine.
Dave Cushman’s excellent site has some information on him, in two places. At http://www.dave-cushman.net/bee/longhive.html and at http://www.dave-cushman.net/bee/jumbo.html

On the Queen Excluder – The logic of a queen excluder is inescapable and it would have had great appeal to earlier generations of beekeepers who made practically everything themselves. Again Dave Cushman’s site has the most information. Click here to go to the relevant page > http://www.dave-cushman.net/bee/excludertypes.html
Update: October 2017 – I successfully used the boards as queen excluders during 2017 and the bees concentrated their storage efforts below the board thus discouraging the chimney effect. I will try again in 2018.

On Queen Rearing – The brood splitter too has great merit. After all, if it is a type of queen excluder then why wouldn’t it work just like a mesh queen excluder and cause the brood box which is missing a queen to make a new one? It may even work better.


So what is it?

The question remains unanswered!


Related Post


Beekeeper and allotment grower.

3 thoughts on “What is it?

  1. Either clearer boards or more likely cover boards with plenty of ventilation for over wintering.

    queen excluders? I think not.

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