I wondering about exactly when I should reduce the entrance on my hive. Is there a target temperature or level of activity in the hive?
I'm in SW Missouri and right now temps are highs around 70 and lows around 40. (and of course extremely variable this time of year)
Thanks for your help.
First year with a hive,
During summer I'd worry about temperature and ventilation. Once summer is over, I'd think in terms of traffic. If you have a major traffic jam at the entrance it's too small. Basically this time of year I try for as small an entrance that will accomadate the traffic. You want to prevent robbing, mice moving in, moths getting in etc.
Thank you Michael! I'll be watching the traffic over the coming weeks...
I don't reduce the entrances per se. Just put mice guards on to keep the rodents out. Entrances are left full size. The bees can keep moths out. Once they are clustered its usually too cold for moth problems. Strong hives can control moths while its warm. Also those wooden reducers that often come w/ bottom boards don't keep mice out. Any self respecting mouse can chew the entrance of those sticks big enough to get in with ease.
I agree with the mouse gaurds. Mice can devasate a hive. Maybe it's a difference in climate, but here it gets cool enough for the bees to be clustered and not moving but the moths are still moving. After we get a good freeze it's not so much a problem, but the moths get in my hives a lot.
What are mouse guards, and how do they not prevent the flow of traffic? I put an entrance reducer on one of my strong hives yesterday and it just caused, as said above, a traffic jam.
[This message has been edited by dragonfly (edited October 17, 2002).]
A mouse gaurd is a sort of entrance reducer made of tin. That way the mice can't eat through it and it's made small enough that they can't get through. You can make your own entrance reducer. Most bottom boards are 3/4" at the entrance. If you take a 1 by and cut a 3/4" strip and then use a hand saw to cut the depth you want and then split it out with a chisel or a screw driver you can make an entrace bigger than the one causing the traffic jam but smaller than the wide open one. Also you can just cut the length to shorter than the entrance and leave an opening at the end. You can keep opening it until you get rid of the traffic jam. Mouse gaurds are available from WWW.BEECOMMERCE.COM and probably other places, but I have bought them there. You can also just make them out of tin, but seeing one is helpful for the dimensions.
I have thought about mouse guards as screens. I've never bought one, nor have I used one yet, but I am about to make some using a piece of screen 1/4" x 1/4" hole size secured somehow across the entrance? That will surely keep the mice out, and should not be a problem for the bees going through the holes.
Clay, where is Crown Point, NY? I also live in NY (near White Plains) and leaving the whole entrance open through the winter seems to me fatal when the temps hit the single digits (or even 10s)
A mouse gaurd is usually made of tin (sheet metal) and acts as an entrance reducer because it only has a small entrance in the metal. It has some nail holes in the tin and is tacked over the entrance.
You asked when to install an entrance reducer.
I just read in "Beekeeping for Dummies" by Howland Blackiston the following:
Page 95, "For an established colony, use the entrance reducer during long periods of cold weather (less than 40 degrees). As a general "rule of thumb", remove the entrance reducer completely when daytime temperatures are above 60 degrees." He prefers not to use the smallest opening. On page 94 He suggests "Placing the entrance reducer so that the openings face "up". Doing so allows the bees to climb up over any dead bees that might otherwise clog the entrance."
Through out his book, a lot of his advice is given with referance to time, temperature, etc. That sure helps me .... a new 'Dummie'.
Walter T. Kelly in "How to Keep Bees & Sell Honey", page 139, suggests "Installing the reducer after the first killing frost".
The advice about 'traffic' posted by Michael, sounds like the best advice, to me.
[This message has been edited by Dave W (edited October 30, 2002).]
>On page 94 He suggests "Placing the entrance reducer so that the openings face "up". Doing so allows the bees to climb up over any dead bees that might otherwise clog the entrance."
Of course we all have our own opinions. It seems to me they can drag the dead bodies out better if the opening is on the bottom. I usually leave a top entrance open in the winter to avoid the problem also. That way even if the bottom board is covered the live ones can get out the top.
Your comments sound reasonable. How clean is your bottom board when you remove your reducer? Maybe the bees would drag dead ones out either way. I hope the original question (about "time") gets answered.
Your comments sound reasonable. How clean is your bottom board when you remove your reducer?
In the spring when it warms enough that traffic starts up I pull the entrance reducer, or open it up some (depending on the strength of the hive etc.) Often I go through the hive at the same time and dump the bottom board. If they had a good winter there isn't much but the wax scales from the caps on the bottom. If they had a bad one, and the mites killed alot then there could be piles of dead bees on the bottom. Anything in between is possible.
>Maybe the bees would drag dead ones out either way.
Maybe. I haven't tried the other way around.
>I hope the original question (about "time") gets answered.
I'm afraid I'm not sure what the question was. I reread all of this looking for time. What was the original questiona about "time"?