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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    2,863

    Default Top bar hive entrances

    Just wondering if anyone uses two entrances on their top bar hives, for example, an entrance on the end of the hive, and another on the side towards the middle of the hive? Besides having to gaurd the extra entrance I thought maybe it would be more efficient for field bees depending on what they were bringing back. It would be similar to having an auger hole in the upper brood box of a standard hive. John

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,084

    Default Re: Top bar hive entrances

    Only accidentally and it didn't end well. They were guarding what they perceived as the front door (a gap from a warped lid) and ignoring what they didn't seem to perceive as an entrance (the entrance I gave them) and they got robbed out.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Rhinebeck, NY
    Posts
    74

    Question Re: Top bar hive entrances

    Quote Originally Posted by jmgi View Post
    Just wondering if anyone uses two entrances on their top bar hives....
    "jmgi" has a good question....

    I have two TBH's to start this year -- I have a couple of strong Lang's. What I am wondering about is the entrances. Both of my TBH's that I bought last year, have center (side) entrances.

    Reading through problems that folks have had with wintering, many discussed problems with the bees moving from the center towards honey stores on one end and not being able to cross the many combs to get to the honey at the other end. HHH||<<<||||HHHH.

    The folks that use an end-entrance (and perhaps screened side ventilation only) say that their bees have no problem moving in one direction (away from the entrance) without their having to move combs and follower boards to "manage" the hive. ||||>>>>HHHHHHHH.

    After the coldest extended winter in years, I am considering drilling 5-6 lower entrance holes in one end of my TBH's.

    Opinions, please.

    Mike

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Portland, OR, USA
    Posts
    639

    Default Re: Top bar hive entrances

    We use side entrances at one end of our hives to start and then move one follower as the colony expands. I find this works the best for us with no need to rearrange honey stores before winter. Pictures at our website.

    Best,
    Matt

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,974

    Default Re: Top bar hive entrances

    I use an end entrance along the bottom edge with a small landing board. If you want to be able to access both ends during an inspection, you can make a follower board that is a bit short, so it doesn't go down and cover the entrance, but still gives you an access point on the brood end.

    I also like how this arrangement allows me to stand on the side, and not bother the coming and going, yet lets me put the hive close to the side of my house. So one side is near the warm, sunny southern wall of the house, while the other is for access.

    Adam

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Central Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    175

    Default Re: Top bar hive entrances

    I have entrances at the end of my hive. I had an accidental side entrance from a bar that had gone askew. The bees had guards at both entrances, but most of them where still using the entrance on the end. It was only like that for a few days before I fixed it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Honduras
    Posts
    228

    Default Re: Top bar hive entrances

    I usually put two entrances on each of my KTBHs. The main one is in the front on the end, with a landing board.

    http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s...s/tomas031.jpg

    I put the landing board on it just in case I install a pollen trap that I have made to fit on the KTBH. The end entrance is much more convenient than a side entrance.

    http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s...eenanddraw.jpg

    There is a second entrance at the back of the hive—quite a bit smaller and located in the middle of the end piece.

    http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s...bhentrance.jpg

    I put this one here figuring it might be useful to the bees if/when the box is filled with bees and combs. I see hives using both entrances, sometimes preferring one to the other. I think that has to do with maybe a preferred flight path for the bees when they leave the hive; or maybe with one end having more exposure to light than the other. I figure the bees know what is best for them. I let them decide.

    If you notice in the photo, the bees have actually closed this back entrance a bit propolis. I’ve seen them do the same thing happen with the main landing-board entrance.

    ----------
    Tom

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Brainerd, MN
    Posts
    533

    Default Re: Top bar hive entrances

    I was planning on drilling 7/8 inch holes on the far side of the sloped side of the TBH, but reading all of Michael Bush's information on winter ventilation got me thinking a bit. I am going to use the screened bottom board during warm weather and a solid bottom when it gets colder. Anyways, would there be any advantage to using the entrances on the far end of the sloped side then opening up a single entrance on the end during the winter? This would be higher up and right under where the legs come together to provide a little shelter.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Marysville, WA
    Posts
    476

    Default Re: Top bar hive entrances

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    I use an end entrance along the bottom edge with a small landing board. If you want to be able to access both ends during an inspection, you can make a follower board that is a bit short, so it doesn't go down and cover the entrance, but still gives you an access point on the brood end.

    I also like how this arrangement allows me to stand on the side, and not bother the coming and going, Adam
    Exactly what I do.

    Mike
    Beekeeper? Shoot, my bees keep me!
    100 hives in Western Wa State

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,863

    Default Re: Top bar hive entrances

    I use just one slotted entrance (about 4 inches wide X 1/2 high) on the fronts of my KTBH's with a landing board. I use one follower board at the back of the last top bar that I adjust as the hive requires less or more room. The follower board also has a slot in the bottom edge that I can put a boardman feeder if I need to, and the slot can be closed up with a sliding piece of sheet metal if I want to close it off completely. I'm thinking of adding another slot or hole up towards the top of the follower board with #8 hardware cloth covering it just for extra ventilation in the winter. They might just close it off with propolis but we'll see how that goes. I used screened bottoms on my TBH's for summer ventilation with a long hinged door underneath the length of the hive of that I can close off for winter. John

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    2,863

    Default Re: Top bar hive entrances

    I have pictures of my top bar hives in the top bar hives forum for anyone wanting to see, it is under the thread " Am I the only one who..." post #15. John

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Canada BC Delta
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    426

    Default Re: Top bar hive entrances

    I set my hives up the same as Adam describes the only difference is I use lose fitting followers at the entrance. Most of the traffic is through the upper holes. I open the holes on the right as traffic dictates. One of my colonies has propolized the bottom hole mostly closed.




    This pic shows the start of the bottom hole being closed off. Kind of surprized me as I was aways told that they would do this with an upper over a lower. They must of had a plan.


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    San Diego, California USA
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Top bar hive entrances

    I bought an expensive top bar hive with three 3" diameter entrances spaced equidistantly across one side. 3 large corks were provided. When I questioned the manufacturer about the large entrances he sent one cork with a 3/4" hole drilled in it. Unfortunately the corks don't fit flush with the inside walls of the hive so I have to maneuver the top bars so the follower board will fit since it can't abut against a cork. Anyway, the hive is getting very active and there is a logjam of bees trying to get in, and presumably, out of the hive. Should I take out one cork altogether and leave a 3" diameter opening for the bees? I'm afraid this odd entrance will be tough to defend. During this strong nectar flow I don't think much robbing is going on. As it stands, I have one 3/4" entrance for the bees to enter and exit. Thanks for you help.

    Subsequent to buying the aforementioned TBH, I made 3 beautiful TBH's from the plans in Michael Bush' book, Practical Beekeeping. Being bear of very little carpenter knowhow or tools, I had home depot cut my boards to size and I drilled and screwed them together. They are beautiful and cost about $30 each. Great design in MB's book - spreading the sides instead of beveling the edges is brilliant and works great! Thanks Michael! Mari Jarvis

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Top bar hive entrances

    Quote Originally Posted by Jarvis View Post
    I bought an expensive top bar hive with three 3" diameter entrances spaced equidistantly across one side. 3 large corks were provided. When I questioned the manufacturer about the large entrances he sent one cork with a 3/4" hole drilled in it. Unfortunately the corks don't fit flush with the inside walls of the hive so I have to maneuver the top bars so the follower board will fit since it can't abut against a cork. Anyway, the hive is getting very active and there is a logjam of bees trying to get in, and presumably, out of the hive. Should I take out one cork altogether and leave a 3" diameter opening for the bees? I'm afraid this odd entrance will be tough to defend. During this strong nectar flow I don't think much robbing is going on. As it stands, I have one 3/4" entrance for the bees to enter and exit.
    I purchased a hive like you described (except the holes were 1"DIA) for my first hive. When the three lower center holes didn't work out for me I drilled two new ones in the upper corner of the side and plugged the center ones with the corks. In order for the corks to not protrude into hive cavity I trimmed them with a type of Japanese hand saw (Rockler). I didn't worry about trimming them exactly flush (just close) as I figured the bees would close the seam with propolis. The new holes are a little under an inch diameter, to fit some corks I had readily available.

    You might try something like that. 3" DIA sounds big to defend. I was surprised the bees didn't take issue with my drilling on their occupied hive but they didn't. This year's package bees would, they don't like me within 10 feet of the front of the hive without warning me off. Glad the holes are already there!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Portland, OR, USA
    Posts
    639

    Default Re: Top bar hive entrances

    Mari,

    The holes are 2" in diameter, a size we've been using for a few years in many of our top bar hives without issue. When the colony is just starting out (or during winter), the reduced 3/4"-1" hole is fine, but I definitely recommend opening the entrance fully at this point if they've got that many bees! The 2" holes are significantly smaller overall than a Langstroth entrance, or most other entrances for that matter. They are also about the size recommended by Thomas Seeley in Honeybee Democracy.

    Best,
    Matt

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Lakeland, FL USA
    Posts
    803

    Default Re: Top bar hive entrances

    .

    How brilliant is it to try to widen and/or add holes to a hive that's already in operation?

    Has anyone tried such a feat yet?

    I could do it very quickly with a paddle bit that's for wood, but I suspect all you-know-what would break loose

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Top bar hive entrances

    Quote Originally Posted by PatBeek View Post
    .

    How brilliant is it to try to widen and/or add holes to a hive that's already in operation?

    Has anyone tried such a feat yet?

    I could do it very quickly with a paddle bit that's for wood, but I suspect all you-know-what would break loose
    I added some last year but they were in a completely different location from the ones in use. The bees were using the bottom center holes at the time and I added ones in an area of the hive that was blocked off from use. After I added them I moved the combs to that end of the hive. I was fully suited up and expecting the worst but they didn't mind me. Last year's Italian package bees were really docile though. With this year's Minnesota Hygienic bees I don't think I would try it.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Posts
    1,256

    Default Re: Top bar hive entrances

    Quote Originally Posted by PatBeek View Post
    .

    How brilliant is it to try to widen and/or add holes to a hive that's already in operation?

    Has anyone tried such a feat yet?

    No, but with the kind of top entrance I'm using on my long hives, it wouldn't be a problem, since it's just a slot routed out of the edge of a plywood covering board. Remove the board, flip it end for end and rout a new slot.

    topentrance.jpg

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: Top bar hive entrances

    Quote Originally Posted by PatBeek View Post
    How brilliant is it to try to widen and/or add holes to a hive that's already in operation?
    ...I could do it very quickly with a paddle bit that's for wood...
    Personally, I'd opt for about a 1/2" or so STANDARD twist drill bit...it's much less violent when it reaches the other end of the wood...no paddle bit chattering & tearing stuff up to stir up the bees unnecessarily...IMHO

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    San Diego, California USA
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Top bar hive entrances

    I made a TBH this weekend and am using Michael Bush' method of leaving a 3/8" space between the end of the hive and the first top bar. I tacked a small nail for the first bar to butt up against so they wouldn't become askew and misalign the opening. The cover extends over the entrance and it remains accessible since the width of the top bars is 3/8", allowing the cover to be 3/8" raised from the hive body. Simple and, I hope, effective. In this thread, several people mentioned that certain various entrances "didn't work for them." I'm confused by that statement. How will I know if the bees are preferring the slot on the top versus the 3/4" hole on the nuc from which they came? Thanks for your help.

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