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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    north east al.( scottsboro)
    Posts
    60

    Question top enternce the good, and the bad

    wondering about the top entence is it better than the bottom , will it keep out SHB and other unwanted guest and where do youn put the hole in the topof the brood box googled for info but came up empty handed, and would i have to let go of my sbbs lots of questions but will let it go at this

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Inver Grove, MN
    Posts
    1,462

    Default

    Micheal Bush is a fan of top entrances.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopentrance.htm

    I really like the part about not having to mow as much or at all.

    I'm less of a fan, but only because it causes confusion when you are working the hives. The entrance suddenly disappears and the bees get muddled and maybe annoyed. I've set up hives with both top and bottom entrances and for me they usually continue to mostly use the bottom and sometimes if the top opening is too large they start to propalize it shut. But then I live in a cooler climate them Mr. Bush, so things may just work differently in my area.
    Linux - World domination through world cooperation

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pocahontas County, West Virginia, USA
    Posts
    216

    Default

    I routinely give them a choice of either one and find that they nearly always prefer to use the bottom one.
    "Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." - P.J. O'Rourke

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    McMinnville, TN, USA
    Posts
    716

    Default

    This is something I am wanting to try. The main reason is the mowing factor. Bees that stay on location for pollenation( agreement allows bees to stay year round) are a pain to get to and keep the grass down. I hate making an extra trip to the yard to mow and trying to mow and work the bees the same trip is a bigger pain. I am thinking of using a top and bottom entrance. So please someone else speak up.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    owensboro,ky
    Posts
    2,240

    Default

    i have gone to top entrances and screened bottoms open all year. works well for me. i never mowed with bottom entrances- i put scrap drywall from builders on the ground under and in front. my hives are all on stands. good luck,mike
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
    Posts
    6,080

    Default

    I provide both.

    Some hives will propolize the top shut, others will leave it open.

    I use the upper brood box "hole, or entrance, as a way to "step" the bees up above the excluder when using one.

    Studies have shown that bees prefer bottom entrances. So for me, I ask myself why? I think it has to do with natural forces such as heat retention within the colony that aids in winter and early spring brood rearing, issues with rain, and other items.

    Not sure why people get hung up on one or the other. Provide both. Just allow the bees to manipulate and close off anything they want too before winter. Which means not changing equipment around late in the fall.

    I do agree with the having to deal with the bees when you take away an upper entrance.

    I find this whole "I use an upper entrance" about the same as many little modifications beekeepers come up with to be unique, write some filler for a book, or stand out from the crowd. Much of the time its about nothing, and no real benefit is seen.

    If bees have been programmed to select bottom entrances over thousands or millions of years, then there must be a reason for for. Dynamics of traffic flow, heat, whatever. But I've heard no compelling reason to eliminate a bottom entrance for a top one. If you want a top one add it. But to eliminate the bottom makes no practical sense to me.

    The addition of a top one has more to do with the very unnatural way we keep bees. Hive volumes are increased, with tricks to suppress swarming, rear perhaps much more brood than normal with box swapping and frame checker-boarding, etc. So, I do see where everything can not copy what bees do in nature. I think upper ventilation is good. But not to the point we need to eliminate the bottom.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    3,779

    Default

    I have a couple of hives with both an upper and lower entrance. One hive is propolizing the top shut. There's always a couple of guard bees looking out of the upper entrance but, for the most part, the bees that have two choices always seem to choose the bottom.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default

    I was reluctant to eliminate my bottom entrances and replace them with SBBs that would only allow passage of air for ventilation, but wouldn't allow passage of bees, until I observed how hungry toads were depopulating my hives by stationing themselves immediately below or even directly on the landing area of the bottom boards and gobbling up my bees. Yep, day and night, toads would sit on the landing boards and eat bees. I made that observation last year and noticed that the toads were eating my bees 24 hours per day, and would scurry away when I approached, making their presence less noticeable. I began approaching my hives quietly so I could catch the toads off-guard - I found that if I was very quiet and used my red LED headlight at night I could catch many of the toads with a reach extender. I began catching the toads and putting them into five gallon pails, driving them seven miles down the road, then releasing them into a roadside ditch, all downhill from my place. I counted them as I did this and counted over one hundred fat toads, fat from eating my bees. After I had relocated most of the toads I promptly began building the SBBs that all my hives use today.

    Just curious - How many have seen colonies in walls where a cut-out or trap-out was needed that had a bottom entrance?

    This season there are, again many toads in my Apiary 24 hours per day. I have noticed that they are only able to eat bees that alight where they can reach them. There are many fewer toads than last year, they are not as fat as they were last year, and they are doing a good job keeping the ground around my hives cleaned of any dead bees. There is very little vegetation around my hives, but not because I mow, it's just that way naturally because it is generally so hot, and I don't irrigate that area.

    I discovered other benefits of upper entrances (a "top" entrance is not the only kind of upper entrance I use). Such as helping to keep the congestion of backfilling the brood nest from happening. Consider the logic of making the bees pass through a queen excluder in order to access the queen and brood nest, but have free access to the honey supers. I've observed very little "back-filling" of my brood nests this season and the supers I had available for use as honey supers were filled in record time. I am still in a little bit of "shock" at how smoothly this season has been. I will need to see if I get similar results next season to be sure I'm not imagining things. Especially about how many supers were filled before the honeyflow was half over.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Kingston Springs, Tennessee
    Posts
    32

    Default Top entrances work for me

    I've been using top entrances for the past 3 years and they've worked great for me. My husband built a spacer that I use for the top entrance. It has an elongated strip about 7 inches long and 1/2 inch high that is routed out for the entrance with a little landing board in front of the entrance slot.

    Most of the bees don't act like they know a bottom entrance is a possibility. It's a snap as long as the bees don't have any other way to get in from the bottom. For the bottom entrance, I've covered it with hardware cloth for ventilation - this actually gives me a quick way to see just how jammed with bees a hive is by peeking through the screen. If the bees are packed around the bottom screen, I just add a super, make a split, etc. So far, I haven't found that they really jam up around the bottom screen and buzz unless the brood chamber is packed and some sort of action is appropriate. Of course, there are always bees hanging around the screened part catching the air, etc. - it's a question of how many you know?

    I also use the west bug trays 12 months a year.

    Since going to the top entrance, condensation problems have been eliminated. Also, when it gets cold, the bees just propolize the entrance to a size that seems to work for them - usually a one bee size (or two bee) - they just keep the entrance blocked as long as its cold. Then when spring rolls around, they move the propolis so the entrance is fully open. and they're flying.

    Most hives don't have any problem at all. Of 10 hives, I have one hive that the bees keep trying to figure out how to get into the bottom.

    Going to upper entrances has helped me capture more honey in my supers too I think.
    Think like a bee - focus!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,191

    Default

    Doesn't closing the bottom entrance make it harder for the bees to remove dead bees & debris?

    Dan

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Kingston Springs, Tennessee
    Posts
    32

    Default

    That would be a problem if I used a solid bottom board but since I use the west bug pans, all the "stuff" of the hive drops down into the pan except for dead bees. They seem to be abandoned on the screen part of the device, dry up and shrink considerably. Since there's the usual space between the top of the bug pan and the bottom of the frames, it doesn't seem to cause any problems and there's not a huge number of dead ones per hive.

    I also check the bug pans about every month or so and dump out any culled larvae, etc.

    I suppose the issue might be the same if the bottom entrance was blocked and a screened bottom board was used too.
    Think like a bee - focus!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default

    Only when a hive is weak do I have some debris accumulate on the bottom screen and sometimes a few dead bee bodies. Strong hives don't seem to have any problems removing debris and dead bodies out of the hive, even removing them through the excluder covering access to the brood nest.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Chittenango,Ny (upstate)
    Posts
    309

    Default

    I use holes in my brood boxes for entrances and sbb. The bees seem to do just fine but it can get congested with a booming hive. I put a 7/8 inch hole in both deeps. They use the ones they want and propolize the ones they don't. They seem to winter fine and ventilation seems improved. Also I no longer have problems with mice. I would never get the guards on in time and the critters would ruin sveral frames in the bottom box.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    1,933

    Default

    I really like the idea of top entrances, but they have not worked
    out great for me. First, in my area, hive entrances must be small
    enough for bees to defend during the summer dearth, especially
    when all the honey is at the top of the hive with easy access to
    rob. If you simply prop a top with a stick or shim here, hives will
    get robbed out in the summer, if your top then allows a large entry area.
    So to deal with this, I designed tops that seal on all edges
    except the entrance side, and be reduced if desired.
    The first run of tops I did,
    the entrance was on the side. This was a mistake as it just works out
    better to have the entrance pointing towards the front, and not
    pointing towards other hives. Plus they ended up not fitting with the top
    mounted pollen traps that I later ordered. So the second run of tops now has the top
    entrance in the front. 3 years later, maybe it will work out. I don't
    know yet because bottom entrances work just fine if you have other
    skunk control measures and don't have time to collect pollen.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    hamburg, new york, usa
    Posts
    440

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kbee View Post
    I use holes in my brood boxes for entrances and sbb. The bees seem to do just fine but it can get congested with a booming hive. I put a 7/8 inch hole in both deeps. They use the ones they want and propolize the ones they don't. They seem to winter fine and ventilation seems improved. Also I no longer have problems with mice. I would never get the guards on in time and the critters would ruin sveral frames in the bottom box.
    I really like this idea. Do you use regular bottom boards in winter?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Delta, Utah
    Posts
    494

    Default I'm not sold on them

    I tried top entrances exclusively on about 100 hives this year as an experiment and although skunks were not a problem these are the problems I did encounter...

    about half the hives won't store honey within 6 or 8 inches of the entrance in the top honey super. Confusion when you pop the lid. On many new hives I experimented by putting my 2nd brood box on the bottom instead of the top. The bees almost refuse to move down, even while bringing in lots of nectar.

    Overall, I just don't have the consistancy of my hives that have both a top and bottom entrance.
    -Rob Bliss
    Bliss Honey and bee supplies

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    hamburg, new york, usa
    Posts
    440

    Default

    Our bees have both entrances. We noticed 99% use bottom entrance.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pahvantpiper View Post
    I tried top entrances exclusively on about 100 hives this year as an experiment and although skunks were not a problem these are the problems I did encounter...

    about half the hives won't store honey within 6 or 8 inches of the entrance in the top honey super. Confusion when you pop the lid. On many new hives I experimented by putting my 2nd brood box on the bottom instead of the top. The bees almost refuse to move down, even while bringing in lots of nectar.

    Overall, I just don't have the consistancy of my hives that have both a top and bottom entrance.

    Wow, I don't even have one hundred hives, but I did convert all of my full-size colonies (about a dozen, +/- one or two) to upper entrances (not necessarily, top entrances).


    Though there are an abundance of skunks here in Arizona, thankfully they haven't found our apiary, yet. Our main honeybee predators are Colorado river toads, a large assortment of lizards, and an assortment of birds. The toads are living bee-eating machines, apparently immune to attack, or at least indifferent to it. The lizards haven't yet approached hive entrances, as the toads do, but I notice when I am working the bees that when a bee or bees alight on the ground, that a lizard will zoom, seemingly out of nowhere, and gobble them up. The same with many bees that alight in places other than the entrances to their hives, especially on vertical wooden walls. Birds do likewise, but are usually not fast enough to beat the lizards to their meals.


    My experiences with upper entrances were different and positive. I wonder what factors inspired these differences.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 07-16-2008 at 05:57 PM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lk Stevens, WA
    Posts
    166

    Default Mid-entrance?

    Has anyone tried to put an entrance in-between the brood chambers? As in: bottom board (closed off) then first deep, then entrance, then second deep. I like to keep my hives low so I can move them with a hand truck but hate to mow all the time. Also might help keep the mice out going into winter? Also make it tougher for the skunks? Just curious if some one has any experience trying or doing it.

    Presently I provide an upper and a lower entrance. Seems to me from my observation 85-90% of the bees use the bottom entrance.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default

    My main entrances are immediately above the two 8-frame medium supers that comprise my brood nests. These become the only entrances once the honey supers have been harvested. Once the honey supers are removed they then become "top" entrances, where before they were more like mid entrances.

    In my circumstances, providing a bottom entrance would be like shaking a frame of bees, or more, per day into a bucket of soapy water - something I would like to avoid, and something I think my bees would avoid, "if they knew any better". Once the toads begin eating bees at their bottom entrances, the bees will continue to go to the entrance to investigate, and in turn be eaten, and so on . . . Being their keeper I hope to save them from their natural instincts and remove the tempting and dangerous bottom entrance. Now they are safe from toad predation.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 07-17-2008 at 12:10 PM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

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