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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Southern Connecticut
    Posts
    90

    Default Top entrance questions

    I'll start by saying I enjoy woodworking, I like making things for my bees. I follow that up with, I sometimes get tired of making so many things for my bees. Making 8 deeps isn't hard and doesn't take long but following that with 4 bottom boards, 4 inner covers.... you get the idea.

    Long story short, I like the idea of top entrances for several reasons (pests, convenience, no more inner covers, etc) but I have two questions I know someone with top entrance experience can answer.

    1) With a Michael Bush style top entrance (no front overhang) do you find driving rains to ever be an issue? My bees are well protected from high winds but in NE we have hurricanes and strong winds (especially on the coast). Of course I'm sure I could just add a small overhang (1-2") but am I just wasting material?

    2) Currently when I'm forced to feed syrup I use inverted jars w/an empty box over them. I don't seem the same system working for top entrances but I find it to be easy and I have all the gear... Is it feasible to still feed in this same manner w/top entrances and I'm just not seeing the simple solution?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,119

    Default Re: Top entrance questions

    I use top entrances and my covers are similar to Michael's, but I sized the boards to provide an overhang on all sides. My intention is that water dripping off the top does not run down the outsides of the boxes.

    I have seen posts where beeks cut a hole in the top cover sized to fit a plug that can be inserted when there is no feeder in use. I haven't tried it.

    .
    Last edited by Rader Sidetrack; 02-19-2014 at 06:43 PM.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,406

    Default Re: Top entrance questions

    Quote Originally Posted by ARGluck View Post

    2) Currently when I'm forced to feed syrup I use inverted jars w/an empty box over them. I don't seem the same system working for top entrances but I find it to be easy and I have all the gear... Is it feasible to still feed in this same manner w/top entrances and I'm just not seeing the simple solution?
    I also feed with 1 gallon feeders inside an empty box, with the feeders right on the top bars. There are several ways to work around this with top entrances, I use one of these two methods.
    First, some of my boxes have auger holes drilled in them. When feeding I'll tape off the top entrance and let the bees use the auger hole as an entrance. It is much easier for them to guard when feeding.
    Second method, temporarily use an inner cover with the feeder and empty box on top of it, and let the bees use the inner cover notch facing down as an entrance. Tape off the entrance on the lid above the empty box to prevent robbers from entering from the top unguarded.
    To everything there is a season....

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Reynoldsburg, Ohio
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: Top entrance questions

    Mike Gillmore, I am just southwest of you near Columbus. Do your bee's winter well with top entrances? Do you reduce them in the winter? If so is ventilation a problem?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Walden, Tennessee
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Top entrance questions

    Rader Sidetrack,

    As a fellow East Tennessean I am switching to top entrances this year and planned to switch out the ventilated bottom board to a solid bottom board. Is that what you do and do you have any other suggestions that are helpful to our climate?

    Thanks!
    Lee

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,119

    Default Re: Top entrance questions

    I built bottom boards that are capable of holding an oil pan (under a screen). Other than access for getting the oil tray out, my bottom boards are solid (no ventilation). They are based on a slightly modified Beesource plan. The linked plan does not show an oil tray, but its not hard to add space for the tray. I did not permanently remove the entrance shown in the plans - the entrance is still there but I add a piece of wood to act as a block.

    As for the oil tray, i cannot say with any certainty that they are effective, but their dollar cost is minimal and I see no downside.

    Also I am no expert - what I am doing seems to be working but things could change anytime.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,406

    Default Re: Top entrance questions

    Quote Originally Posted by kkauf View Post
    Mike Gillmore, I am just southwest of you near Columbus. Do your bee's winter well with top entrances? Do you reduce them in the winter? If so is ventilation a problem?
    I've had good overwintering results with top entrances. Over winter I close down the entrance to no more than a 1" opening. Or I'll have a single auger hole open in the top box with the cover entrance closed off. No inner covers used. I put 2" insulation board on top of the cover weighed down with a cinder block. This seems to help prevent moisture from condensing on the inside of the top cover.

    I use screened bottom boards, but for winter the trays are in and all openings are partially blocked to prevent drafts in windy conditions. I do leave small gaps on the bottom so there is always "some" ventilation from bottom to top to vent moisture.
    To everything there is a season....

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,484

    Default Re: Top entrance questions

    Is there any reason that you cannot use a bottom entrance feeder and close off the rest of the opening?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,406

    Default Re: Top entrance questions

    Brian, that would work fine in warmer weather. When it's cool, and if you use upper entrances, the bees usually seem to be clustered toward the top of the stack and are not prone to wander down away from the cluster to the bottom for syrup. If the feeder is right on top of the cluster they take the syrup more readily.
    To everything there is a season....

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Knox Co, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    833

    Default Re: Top entrance questions

    I use upper entraces only. My hives have no bottom entrance.

    I build inner covers along the lines of the Honey Run Apiary ones. You can google it to see plans. I cut a 3/8" x 5" slot for the entrance. Being one to never leave werll enough alone I have made some further modifications. I built some with a slatted rack instead of using a piece of plywood. This gives added ventilation. The best feature is it makes feeding easy. I can put 1 gal paint cans on top of it. I put fondant on top of it. It would be easy to put sugar blocks on top of it. I will build more of these with some type of slatted inner cover incorporated in the future.

    As far as overwintering goes I have only lost one of seven hives so far this year with upper entraces reduces to about 1-1.5 inches and screened bottoms closed. I don't attribute the high survival rate to upper entrances.

    Tom

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,864

    Default Re: Top entrance questions

    I tried top entrances on some hives this last season because I was having a really bad skunk problem in some yards, and I have mixed feelings about them. It does take care of the skunk issues, but I noticed lots of pollen being stored in the honey supers along with the honey, which I didn't care for. I'm thinking that when you put a top entrance way up on top of the stack of supers, far away from the brood nest area, you are going to get more pollen stored up high because the bees have to go so much further to get to the brood area and some may choose not to go all the way down there. There was no brood raised in the supers that had lots of pollen in them, just in case you are wondering, just pollen and honey. Some combs were 1/3 or more filled with pollen on both sides and the rest honey. Has anyone else who has run top entrances ever experienced this?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Knox Co, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    833

    Default Re: Top entrance questions

    I have only had significant pollen in supers on a weak flows. On my strongest hives I will put a 3/8" entrance shim between the brood nest and supers.

    Tom

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,136

    Default Re: Top entrance questions

    >Has anyone else who has run top entrances ever experienced this?

    I've seen pollen sometimes in supers with or without top entrances. I can't say if it's worse, I've always sorted those out when harvesting and send them back to the hives...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,864

    Default Re: Top entrance questions

    Quote Originally Posted by TWall View Post
    I have only had significant pollen in supers on a weak flows. On my strongest hives I will put a 3/8" entrance shim between the brood nest and supers.Tom
    When you put a 3/8" shim between the top brood box and the honey supers don't you get lots of burr comb in that space? Just an idea, what if someone were to make a shallow rim about 1" high, using the same o.d. of a hive box, with an entrance slot in it, and put in slats front to back like a slatted rack, and put that directly above the broodnest so that there is a correct bee space above and below the slats? Wouldn't that eliminate most of the burr comb and still give you the upper entrance?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Knox Co, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    833

    Default Re: Top entrance questions

    The bees will sometimes make some bridge/burr comb. I haven't found it to be a big problem. I often just scrape it off with my hive and then chew on it on the way home, it lets me get a preview of the honey in the super I just pulled!

    The slatted racks I use for my bottom boards had a big enough gap on the bottom side that the bees would still build comb.

    The entrance shim I build is one posted by Joseph Clemens, do a search and see if you can find the thread. He had a link to some detailed drawings. I don't use it on all hives, just large colonies during a strong flow or when the five inch entrance is getting crowded.

    Tom

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Southern Connecticut
    Posts
    90

    Default Re: Top entrance questions

    Since nobody directly answered it (or I'm just blind and illiterate) am I safe to assume nobody has had issues w/driving rains causing problems w/top entrances?

    The feeding I'm not terribly concerned with as I don't have to feed often and there's more ways to feed than opinions on bees haha.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,119

    Default Re: Top entrance questions

    > Since nobody directly answered it ...

    I thought I was responding to your question by stating (post #2) that my [oversize] migratory style lids have overhangs on all sides. That overhang does allow water running off the roof to drip outside of the box edges, but also makes it much more difficult for wind-driven rain to get inside the entrance.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Knox Co, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    833

    Default Re: Top entrance questions

    Yes, rain can possibly get in the upper entrance. It is unlikely to get very far in before gravity overcomes any residual momentum from the wind and it will drain down to the bottom of the hive. I guess there is a possibility if the bottom board is sealed tightly liquid could accumulate.

    I believe Michael Bush uses his solid bottom boards as a feeder. So, he could better address potential for build up of rainwater in the bottom of the hive.

    My gut feeling is it will not be a problem.

    Tom

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,864

    Default Re: Top entrance questions

    Rain would have to blow in 90 degrees to the hive at hurricane force winds to give any problem, the water will just run down the inside wall to the bottom if there is any to speak of.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Southern Connecticut
    Posts
    90

    Default Re: Top entrance questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Rader Sidetrack View Post
    > Since nobody directly answered it ...

    I thought I was responding to your question by stating (post #2) that my [oversize] migratory style lids have overhangs on all sides. That overhang does allow water running off the roof to drip outside of the box edges, but also makes it much more difficult for wind-driven rain to get inside the entrance.
    Sorry I misread it. I though you meant your overhanging sides would stop rain from going in from the sides. I meant our coastal winds driving rain/condensation in the front.

    SBBs would alleviate any buildup on the bottom board if there is any. Just wondering for situations like we have on the coast where warm water off the ocean beats down in freezing temps and if that ever causes issues.

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