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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    591

    Default Why Do Bees Prefer Top Entrances and We Build Hives With Lower Ones?

    I have a Kelley Bee Kentucky Special Hive. When I added a top feeder, I build a false deep body to enclose it above the top cover of the hive. I have the main entrance reduced with the entrance reducer that came with it so they can guard the entrance better. I did drill a 1/2" hole in the false top to give them another entrance. They really seem to prefer this now and hardly use the bottom entrance. They seem to land better at the top too, more natural.

    With the angle and the bottom entrance, they either slam into the hive body or crash onto the board.

    The upper hole they hit the hole and go right in. They have to travel farther to get thru to the main box.

    I use the Plastic Hive cover too, it has a bee space size hole front and back of it also. They are using those to exit the hive and are guarding both entrances well.

    Any thoughts?

    IMGP3103.jpg

    top hole.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Posts
    972

    Default Re: Why Do Bees Prefer Top Entrances and We Build Hives With Lower Ones?

    Habit. Way we've always done it. Read Michael Bush's web site / book. He only uses top entrances. I have tried both and they work fine. When I give the bees both they use both but really seem to prefer an upper entrance. Only difference I've seen is that you do encounter the returning foragers when working the hive since they are looking for their top entrance which is usually about head height. A little intimidating until you get used to it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    4,064

    Default Re: Why Do Bees Prefer Top Entrances and We Build Hives With Lower Ones?

    I would get that queen excluder out of there if it were my bees. If bees in cluster move up and excluder keeps her down she might get chilly.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lincolnton, NC
    Posts
    1,115

    Default Re: Why Do Bees Prefer Top Entrances and We Build Hives With Lower Ones?

    My hives (15 to 20) have both top & bottom entrances year round. They seem to use about a third bottom only, a third top only and a third both. I reverse in the spring, so that may encourage them to use the bottom more than naturally.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    1,403

    Default Re: Why Do Bees Prefer Top Entrances and We Build Hives With Lower Ones?

    I use a bottom and top entrance as well. Most bees use the bottom entrance in all my hives, except one particular hive...........they are switch hitters, ive observed them using the top entrance primarily one week, then using the bottom entrance more currently. They were a cutout I did from under a office trailer. All the other hives I have (except for my original hive) are swarms from this year and they all use the bottom entrance as well.

    I am not a scientist but I think the reason bees in the wild have top entrances is due to how a tree rots out to create a hollow. Maybe its rain water that gets into a hole in the tree and rots out everything from the hole down, making it easier for bees/birds to remove the decayed tissue and build from the top of the hollow (which doesnt rot out due to being above the water line/entrance) to the bottom, so they have no choice but to have a top entrance.

    If given a top and a bottom entrance, why would they use the bottom entrance more in most cases? Is it due to being closer to the brood portion of the hive and being able to off load the nectar/pollen to the house bees faster so the foragers can get back out into the field faster, being more efficient?

    I dont know much of the science of beekeeping, just making an observation. Maybe someone can set me straight on this subject!

    Acebird, what are your thoughts??
    Coyote Creek Bees

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    591

    Default Re: Why Do Bees Prefer Top Entrances and We Build Hives With Lower Ones?

    This upper entrance is in a false box with nothing but the top feeder. They have to go thru an empty box, thru the inner cover to get to the hive.

    With the lower entrance, they are inside right to the hive.

    They did not use it until I put the entrance reducer on. But there is still more space at the entrance than there is at the upper hole.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,679

    Default Re: Why Do Bees Prefer Top Entrances and We Build Hives With Lower Ones?

    ..bees almost always raise brood near the entrance (honey near the entrance is probably seen as an invitation for robbing). With a bottom entrance, the brood is _n the bottom (near the entrance ), and the bees put their honey stores above (where it is easy for the beekeeper to remove).
    Our top entrance hives tend to keep brood in a semicircle around the entrance.....these top frames are not usually filled with capped honey (due to the brood research mg space around the entrance).....we don't use queen excluder's.
    The bees like the toptions entrances just fine...but it makes some of the standardbeekeeper activities a bit more complicated, and certainly a bit different than a hive managed only with a bottom entrance.
    Even the oldest of the south african rock paintings of honey gathering show the brood near the entrance.

    Deknow

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    El Sobrante, California, USA
    Posts
    148

    Default Re: Why Do Bees Prefer Top Entrances and We Build Hives With Lower Ones?

    I slid back my outer covers to provide an upper entrance on my colonies and the bees don't seem to use it as an entrance?!? They guard the opening, but I don't see many foragers entering to store nectar. Seems like they use it as a 'hang out' spot, where all the 'cool' bees gather!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    1,288

    Default Re: Why Do Bees Prefer Top Entrances and We Build Hives With Lower Ones?

    A study done in Russia, where bees were allowed to make their own entrances in hives, showed that the bees prefered an entrance 2.5 inches above the bottom of the box.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: Why Do Bees Prefer Top Entrances and We Build Hives With Lower Ones?

    Rex, my bees do the same thing! I slide my top box back about a 1/4 inch to let out the Summer heat.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Babylon ny
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: Why Do Bees Prefer Top Entrances and We Build Hives With Lower Ones?

    Bees will manage with what we provide. In nature most hives are bottom entrance only. Rare cases of mid and top entrances are typically found when they use some human made structures. But, than they typically do not make natural hives near ground level too...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    1,403

    Default Re: Why Do Bees Prefer Top Entrances and We Build Hives With Lower Ones?

    Quote Originally Posted by dusanmal View Post
    Bees will manage with what we provide. In nature most hives are bottom entrance only. Rare cases of mid and top entrances are typically found when they use some human made structures. But, than they typically do not make natural hives near ground level too...
    Most of the bee trees I have found have top entrances around here. It's actually rarer in my opinion to find a bottom entrance in my experience.
    Coyote Creek Bees

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Mount Sterling, KY. USA
    Posts
    110

    Default Re: Why Do Bees Prefer Top Entrances and We Build Hives With Lower Ones?

    As an experiment on ventilation, I put two slots in the top cover of one of my hives, one in front and one in back. Went down to check on the bees this evening and there were so many bees crowding those holes I thought the hive was being robbed. I plugged those holes to see what the bees would do. Eventually they went to the bottom entrance. So I would say that at least this bunch of bees like the top entrance. And now that I think about it, maybe I was inviting a robbing situation. I think for now, the top holes will remain plugged.
    What we have here, is a failure to communicate !

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