There also seems to be some debate on the best location and size of entrance. I would like to use an entrance feeder. What do you experienced folks recommend?
Is this a top-bar or Langstroth hive?
Top Bar - located in Northern Ohio
I can't say how it will work. I'm going to do a top one this time. Basicalyl I'm just leaving a gap at the front bar for them to get in. The cover board puts the roof on this gap. I figure I can always drill holes later if it doesn't work like I want.
Queens do not like to lay below the entrance. This does not sound like a very good plan to me. Please keep us posted.
I've heard this before. Obviously I don't belive it. But I'll find out what I think. But I've seen a lot of variations of locations of entrances in wild hives and I don't think it will matter that much. I'm hoping it will keep out the mice, which to me are a real problem.
IT SEEMS TO ME THE QUESTION WAS NOT WEATHER OR NOT THE QUEEN LIKED TO LAY BELOW THE ENTRANCE BUT WHERE AND WHAT SIZE ENTRANCE AND if using an entrance feeder was a good idea.If previous posts about using entrance feeders say it stimulates robbing then perhaps a top feeder that is not an entrance feeder and thus forcing all bee to access the feeder from inside the hive would be a possible solution. as would be baggie feeder on the botton, a bordmen feeder placed inside the rear of the TBH perhaps even behind a follower board with a slot to allow only the feeder entrance to protrude into the hive area, perhaps some variation an the division board feeder made to match the shape of the TBH with an access point below that of the other top bars, even inverted jars or cans with holes in their covers supported off the botton with wood strips bout 3/8" thick placed behind the drawn comb. Hope this helps.
Since I usually don't like to feed and if I do there are lots of options, like putting a boardman in the back of the top bar hive, or open feeding, it doesn't seem that important to me.
But if feeding is a big issue for you, I'd build a "frame feeder" that fits the top bar. Take some masonite and some of your "top bar" material and make one.
Someone posted a link to a picture of one of these. I have a lot of them made for medium boxes that I bought from Brushy Mt.
Yes I thought you were supposed to put the entrance feeder inside of the hive, with the jar outside so you could refill it. Because I am getting package bees on April 1st it is important to feed them. Maybe I will just put a place in the back of the hive for the feeder, then when I am not feeding I will just cover up the space. I will keep the jar outside and make it a tight fit for the feed end to slide in at the bottom.
How big should the entrance hole be?
There is some research around that suggests that the bees prefer an entrance of around l4 to l5 square centimeters. That would be a round hole approximating 1 3/4 inches.
However all the research I've seen say that the bees prefer cavities smaller than the hives we give them. I suspect that big hive makes a big colony and so probably requires a larger entrance.
In a conventional hive you adjust the size of the hive with supers and the size of the entrance with a reducer. I suppose you could do any of several things for an entrance.
Many seem to like a series of small holes. That way the bees can easily propolize what they don't want and leave what they like. Sort of a bee controled reducer. The down side is if you want to block the entrance you have a lot more to deal with. Also, there is a guard bee for each hole. I don't know if you'd end up with more gaurd bees with more smaller holes or not.
One round hole could work. You can make (or buy) a disk that allows you to adjust this if you want to be able to. I have seen enough robbing that I would want some plan to reduce the entrance if I needed to.
A slot either at the top, bottom or middle of one end or one side would allow you to use a sqaure piece of wood for a reducer and if you made it 3/8" most boardman feeders will fit in this.
In the end the bees will get in by whatever hole you leave.
My current tbh has a knothole at the bottom of the front of the hive that I knocked out for the bees to use. It's about 1 1/4" diameter. Seems to work great for the bees, and I figure it's easy to guard on their part.
It has been shown that the entrance location and size is a big factor when swarms scout out a new location. My own observations indicate that it is also a factor when the bees construct the broodnest.
Others have reported that the bees store honey away from the entrance. Could entrance location could affect how honey is stored and combs managed?
I had planned to build an entrance along one side of my last tbh. But I drilled a few holes in the end to avoid any complications in my comb observations.
Reports from NM indicate that the bees preferred a side entrance over an entrance in the end. This next season I plan on modifying my last tbh with a side entrance. It will not run the entire length as I had initially planned but will approximate the 15 cm2 area swarms prefer. Research indicates they prefer an entrance near the bottom of the cavity. And one that isn't too wide, less than 4cm.
Using a boardman feeder outside the tbh would require an end entrance unless the sidewalls are almost vertical.
[This message has been edited by topbarguy (edited March 01, 2004).]
4 cm would be about 1 1/2 inches according to my ruler. That is easily big enough for a mouse to get in, especially the little deer mice that hang out on my farm. How small do you think you could go? I am thinking about drilling a series of 3/4 inch holes, say 2 cm. each. To get to 15 square cm that would take 4.8 holes. So say five 2 cm holes. That seems about right. only question is if a mouse can get it. Maybe I will make up a little box with some cheese and drill some 3/4 inch holes to see if those little buggers can get through!
The mice will easily go through a 3/4" hole. The small ones will easily go through a 1/2" hole. The really small mice will go through a 3/8" slot, but I'm not sure they could get through a round 3/8" hole. They flatten themselves to get through the 3/8" slot. A quarter inch hole is plenty big enough for a bee to get through and too small for a mouse.
OK, so to get 15 sq. cm it looks like you need ten 1/4 inch holes (1/4 inch = about .5 cm). So I will drill these in the bottom of one side, maybe space them out about an inch apart, towards one end. I think I will use a follower board and slot it for a feeder as was suggested above by stuart.
According to my calculations a 1/4" diameter hole has a radius of .3175 cm. By taking Pi * R^2 you get .3165 Sq cm per 1/4" hole. If you take 15 Sq cm divided by .3165 Sq cm per hole you get 47 holes.
But I don't know how applicable the 15 sql cm "rule" is when divided up into individual holes.
I also haven't tried the 1/4" holes to see how the bees like them. But it's not too hard to enlarge them if you think you need too. On the other hand it's hard to shrink them Of course the mice may enlarge them for you anyway. They can chew a lot of wood. But at least they'll have to work at it.
Actually we brushed on this in the old top bar thread.
If you spread the 15sqcm across a number of hole you reduce the effective size of the hole through "friction".
Its just like water through plumbing. Take a 1" diamter pipe and it can carry a good amount of water volume. Take 15 hole that add up to 1" of diameter, and they carry only a tiny fraction of that volume of water.
Although bees aren't water, the same principle applies. One entrance of say 4" sq inches or 15sqcm is more effective than 6 smaller holes adding up to the same total measurement.
The bees seem to prefer, and experimentation has shown that the bees are more effective at ventilating their hive with a single smaller entrance that a giant one or many small ones.
After my battles with the mice, I'm tending toward openings too small for them also.
[This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited March 02, 2004).]
What about a bottom entrance? I was reading the new issue of Bee Culture and it seems like a good idea. I have just finished 3 TBH's, and screwed 2x4's at a 22 degree angle for legs, about 40 inches long. This keeps the hive bottom well out of mouse range. So what about drilling some holes right in the bottom? I was thinking of making some holes in the bottom and some in the side, then spending the summer counting which hole was used the most! HA!