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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Jamestown, OH USA
    Posts
    45

    Default Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

    A couple of weeks ago I added top entrances to my two second-year hives. The top entrances are simply 3/8" notches cut 6" wide in the bottom honey supers. These hives both have two honey supers which are very nearly full.

    You can view a couple of pictures here:
    topentrances3.jpg
    topentrances4.jpg

    The idea was to allow for easier access to the honey supers for returning foragers and to improve ventilation.

    I've noticed, however, that the bees don't seem interested in using these entrances. Every once in a while I'll see a bee fly into/out of the top entrance on each hive, but otherwise they prefer the usual bottom entrances.

    A few questions:

    1) Any idea why the bees don't seem to care much about using the top entrances in these hives, even though presumably using them would involve less work for a returning forager to gain access to the honey supers? Just hard to break old habits?

    2) I was thinking of harvesting the two honey supers, replacing the capped honey frames with foundation, adding queen excluders, and closing off the bottom entrances. Any problem with this that you can think of?

    3) If I do #2 above, I don't need to provide a drone escapes right now, correct?

    Thanks,
    Rob
    Last edited by rmdurkin; 05-29-2013 at 12:48 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    longton, kansas USA
    Posts
    606

    Default Re: Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

    close bottom entrances. shake some bees (without the queen on the frame in the shake) onto the top entrance. they'll figure it out

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Callaway, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    49

    Default Re: Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

    Give em a bit of time. I added top entrance type covers last year to a couple of my hives and it took the girls a bit to get used to them. After a few new orientation flights the younger bees began using them almost exclusively and now they don't use the bottom entrances at all hardly.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
    Posts
    1,269

    Default Re: Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

    bees are creatures of habit, it may take the better part of a generation for them to come to feel the upper entrance suits their needs.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,546

    Default Re: Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

    Close the bottom entrance and they will all come out the top. Don't use a QE with a closed bottom because it will kill all the drones.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Posts
    942

    Default Re: Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

    The bees know what they are doing........

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,496

    Default Re: Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

    Quote Originally Posted by rmdurkin View Post
    ... I added top entrances to my two second-year hives. ..., however,... the bees don't seem interested in using these entrances.
    I have the same - my bees just seal the top entrances I offered to them from time to time. Similarly, they partially sealed the screened hole in the inner cover. All my hives have screened-solid bottoms and we are in SoCal. I guess, it is too much ventilation to them. I am very "fresh" bee-hobbyist and I am learning every day. My general impression is that bees are extremely conservative - they do not like any modification of the existing setup. If "modification" was happened - they are trying to undo it. When I decided to give them a bigger main entrance - I used the stick with different entrances on the sides, so bigger entrance slot was on the side (off center) - bees refused to use it because it was off the center. Previous one was centered - well, I made new stick with entrance in the center. Now I have bunch of sticks with centered entrances of different size. What I could do? They use side part of the porch for cleaning... not for landing
    Серёжа, Sergey

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,866

    Default Re: Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

    There was a study done many years ago (1985) by Gerry Hayes at Ohio State University/ATI in Wooster, Ohio comparing the amount of brood reared and honey produced by different groups of colonies, some using bottom entrance with no queen excluder, some with bottom entrance with queen excluder, and some with an upper entrance (no lower entrance and drone escape hole provided) and a queen excluder, and the measurements taken over a whole season showed that in all cases the hives with upper entrances and the queen excluders had the most square inches of brood and the most honey produced. The hives with a bottom entrance and queen excluders were the worst performers in both brood and honey production all season long.

    One study does not prove beyond a doubt that upper entrances are the best way to go, but logic also tells me that upper entrances have many advantages, whereas lower entrances cannot make that same claim. Lower entrances with porches have been around so long that most people think that hives were designed that way intentionally because it was the "best way". Yeah, just like 5.4 mm cell size foundation was the best size, but that's another subject.

    I am conducting my own experiment this season with upper entrances to see if my results are in line with what G. Hayes found back in 1985. Even though it is still early, I am beginning to see very positive signs. John

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