Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 27
  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
    1,270

    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
    9,764

    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
    972

    Default Re: Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

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

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,336

    Default Re: Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

    Bees are creatures of habit. They will keep using the entrance they are used to. New bees will discover the new entrance and eventually you'll have bees using both.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Jamestown, OH USA
    Posts
    45

    Default Re: Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

    Thanks to everyone for your helpful responses.

    So I am planning on closing off the bottom entrance today. Just a couple of other quick questions:

    Acebird mentioned that I should not use a queen excluder or I'll kill off the drones. So if I wish to use a QE should I drill a drone entrance into the bottom brood box?

    I'm a little concerned about ventilation if I close off the bottom entrance. I am using SBB's, but when it starts to get into the upper 80's and 90's around here should I pull out the plastic tray at the bottom so that air can flow up freely through the hive?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,429

    Default Re: Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

    If you plan to use the QE then switch frames around and use the notched box as your third brood box, with the excluder on top of it. This will give your drones unobstructed access.

    You could also prop the cover up to give workers access to the upper supers.

    When closing off the bottom entrance you may want to initially leave about 3/4" open, allowing only a very narrow restricted entrance. If you suddenly close it off completely you will have a huge mass of bees clustering at the old entrance location. Not good if there are thunderstorms on the way. Leaving a very small opening will allow the bees to eventually all make it inside, but they will begin to look for another way out at you notched entrance above. After a while they will figure it out, and when you see traffic begin to be diverted to the upper entrance then close off the bottom entrance all the way.

    I have SBB's and will be removing the trays soon. Night time temps have been pretty low and I didn't want to chill the brood with sudden drafts, but I think we're turning the corner and it will be time to remove them soon.
    To everything there is a season....

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,515

    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

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,898

    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

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,764

    Default Re: Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Gillmore View Post
    If you suddenly close it off completely you will have a huge mass of bees clustering at the old entrance location.
    You close them off at night when they are all in. The next morning they re-orient to the new entrance.

    I like having both entrances. Small on top and wide on bottom so they can fan in cooler air on hot days. If it really gets hot I pop the cover. I don't need to produce pounds of honey. That is not my goal.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,429

    Default Re: Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    You close them off at night when they are all in. The next morning they re-orient to the new entrance.
    Most of the foragers will still return to the old entrance. It takes a little while for them to re-orient and change their old habit.
    To everything there is a season....

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,898

    Default Re: Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

    As I was converting some of my hives over to top entrances, I reduced the lower entrance down in stages so they could get accustomed to using the upper entrance more every day. Currently I am down to only about a "two bee wide" bottom entrance cut into a piece of wood, and there are still lots of bees who want to use it as these hives are very strong in foragers. Old habits are hard to break. I guess you could do it all at once but it will result in more confusion, especially during a honey flow, which is when I started doing it, wish I would have done it way earlier in the spring. My top entrance right now is just an inner cover with a 3/8" rim on both sides that has a 6" wide notch cut into the front rim. I don't like the idea of drilling holes in my honey supers for an upper entrance, but some have no problem doing so, so have at it.

    For those interested in going with top entrances, you can pretty much do away with the standard bottom boards you have been using up till now, as they are overkill. All you really need is an inner cover with 1/4" or 3/8' rims on both sides to set the brood boxes onto. If you choose to, you can still use the hole in the inner cover for ventilation by stapling screen over the hole from the bottom side. Then in winter, for those in colder climates you can either leave the screened hole open as it has been, or lay a piece of thin sheet metal or aluminum over the hole from the inside to knock down the draftiness. The cost of equipment is reduced with a top entrance colony because now you don't need those fancier bottom boards like you've been using, just basically another inner cover for the bottom board, way less money, especially if you build all your own stuff like I do. John

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,764

    Default Re: Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

    Will an inner cover hold up under the condensate of a hive if it is under the hive?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,653

    Default Re: Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

    Quote Originally Posted by jmgi View Post
    snip

    All you really need is an inner cover with 1/4" or 3/8' rims on both sides to set the brood boxes onto.
    I'm going to use a variation of this idea to make some "inner cover-bottom boards" for 5-frame boxes. One side will have a complete rim while the opposite side will have an open end (or partially open end) for an entrance.

    26 panels can be cut from a 4x8 sheet of plywood.
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,336

    Default Re: Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

    I have some boxes like that. Not on purpose. I'm trying to fix them... I hate holes in my boxes...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,653

    Default Re: Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    I have some boxes like that. Not on purpose. I'm trying to fix them... I hate holes in my boxes...
    The "hole" / opening is not IN the box. It will be like an oversized notch in an inner cover.
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    DFW area, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,099

    Thumbs Up Re: Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

    Rob, as you experiment with entrances, I would just point out the obvious about those cuts/holes in the hive body or super: They are permanent. Do your experimenting on just one or two boxes so when you do settle on your (and the bees) preference you do not have holes in hive bodies and supers that you regret. I make round holes in the supers the size of corks from wine bottles so I can plug them when I want to, but my bees hardly use those holes (they are good for ventilation though). HTH
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Aurora, CO USA
    Posts
    129

    Default Re: Top Entrances Added, Bees Not Using

    I know many more knowledgeable people than me have answered here stating that bees are creatures of habit and that it will take them some time to get used to the new entrance to start using it. I say they are quick learners. I added a top entrance to my hive and almost immediately they started to not only use it, but defend it. The foragers come and go from this upper entrance just as they would with the lower entrance, but there is a bit more security on that upper entrance I have noticed. Each bee trying to land and enter at the upper is given more than the usual bee "once over frisking" before entering, but they come and go from there all the time. There is still more traffic at the lower, but that's to be expected.

    The result is that my honey supers are being filled quite nicely for a first year hive that I wasn't expecting to pull any honey off of till next year. Now is that all due to the upper entrance? Probably not, but it can't hurt.

    This picture was taken several weeks ago after I first installed the upper entrance spacer I made. It has since been moved to above the second super with the inner cover turned over in the correct direction.
    9039805822_07a52a5c6c.jpg
    _____________________________
    Chas Gordon

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads