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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Clover, WV
    Posts
    130

    Default Top Entrance Issues

    I am using top entrances, with a telescoping roof that has a 9" opening, with a 3/8" shim around the inside of the top. My bottoms are the normal design, with a screened bottom. Most of the season, the bottoms have been closed off, with the bees only allowed to use the top entrance.

    Some questions:

    How are you feeding, only using top entrances? I like the idea of feeding through the inner cover hole with a deep around the feeder, but that doesn't work with the top entrance.

    If I want to feed, can I just close off the top, open the bottom, and expect them to adjust? Does that do any harm?

    If you have any photos of your setup that is working out well, it would be nice to see some ideas. There is too much snow where my hives are to use anything except top entrances, at least for the winter season.

    Thanks in advance,
    John
    John Sampson-Tucker County, WV
    "Get your picture with a bee beard instead if you want street cred." Vance G

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,453

    Default Re: Top Entrance Issues

    >How are you feeding, only using top entrances? I like the idea of feeding through the inner cover hole with a deep around the feeder, but that doesn't work with the top entrance.

    I've fed all kinds of ways. Frame feeders, top feeders, jar feeders, but my typical current method is a bottom board feeder:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding...tomBoardFeeder

    >If I want to feed, can I just close off the top, open the bottom, and expect them to adjust?

    No. It will take them days to even start to adjust and more than a week to work it all out.

    > Does that do any harm?

    Blocking the top when that is their current entrance? Yes it will stop all traffic for a day or two and most traffic for a week or more.

    >If you have any photos of your setup that is working out well, it would be nice to see some ideas. There is too much snow where my hives are to use anything except top entrances, at least for the winter season.

    When I use a miller feeder, I put a shim on each side (to make the entrance) and if there is access at one end, I put that end at the back. I also often break off a shim to 2" short of the width of the entrance and put that in for a reducer. When I use a frame feeder I have a reducer that blocks all but the last 2" of the entrance and the frame feeder is on the opposite side from the feeder. When I use a jar feeder I reduce the entrance to 2" or less.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Clover, WV
    Posts
    130

    Default Re: Top Entrance Issues

    Michael,

    I took your website advice about granular sugar feeding to be more of a winter emergency practice. My research has led me to believe that they could better process syrup, as long as the weather was above 50 degrees. All of my hives are cutouts and swarms from this year, and all seem light. Two of them have almost no stores. I was planning on boosting them up with syrup now, and using the dry sugar method for carrying them over if needed.

    Is this methodology wrong?
    John Sampson-Tucker County, WV
    "Get your picture with a bee beard instead if you want street cred." Vance G

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Elmira, NY
    Posts
    937

    Default Re: Top Entrance Issues

    John,
    I'm not Michael, but that's what I do with late season swarms or cutouts.
    I've never had disease or mite problems, and survivability is acceptable: usually the ones that don't make it are the ones where I knew I was "pushing it" by hiving them too late or with a very small population.

    Where cutouts are concerned, I wait til spring if they're not going to be able to build up well.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Posts
    1,187

    Default Re: Top Entrance Issues

    Actually, you can use a top feeder with a top entrance. I made these inner covers from 3/4" ply. This one is shown upside down.

    topenter1.jpg

    You have to use them with a migratory cover if you're not using them with an empty super, but they work fine. The slot is routed out 3/8" deep. The screened hole is sized so a standard Mason jar feeder fits.

    If you have to close them off, you can just flip them over.

    One advantage I discovered for these inner cover/entrances is that you can work the hive from the front and still be out of the bees' flight path, because the slot is on the side.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Elmira, NY
    Posts
    937

    Default Re: Top Entrance Issues

    Does having a feed jar 3" from the entrance relief cut promote more robbing?

    I've used a similar arrangement, but placing a shim under a migratory top for bee space, and found a greater frequency of robbing.
    Maybe a tighter space over the bars, as it looks like this has, will make a difference.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,453

    Default Re: Top Entrance Issues

    > I was planning on boosting them up with syrup now, and using the dry sugar method for carrying them over if needed. Is this methodology wrong?

    They react differently to storing syrup and having dry sugar. They both have advantages and disadvantages. I've never seen robbing break out over dry syrup...

    Anytime you feed syrup you should reduce ALL the entrances on ALL the hives and feed ALL the hives at the same time.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Posts
    1,187

    Default Re: Top Entrance Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Beregondo View Post
    Does having a feed jar 3" from the entrance relief cut promote more robbing?

    I've used a similar arrangement, but placing a shim under a migratory top for bee space, and found a greater frequency of robbing.
    Maybe a tighter space over the bars, as it looks like this has, will make a difference.
    I haven't seen any robbing, but (a) I'm a beginner and (b) I didn't have to feed much, because there was nectar available when I hived my nucs. I fed for a week or so just to bridge the bees over to a nectar diet, since I assumed the nucs were fed sugar heavily.

    I also closed down the entrance with a twig, and they are only 3/8" high, so probably easy to defend.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Clover, WV
    Posts
    130

    Default Re: Top Entrance Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Beregondo View Post
    John,
    I'm not Michael, but that's what I do with late season swarms or cutouts.
    I've never had disease or mite problems, and survivability is acceptable: usually the ones that don't make it are the ones where I knew I was "pushing it" by hiving them too late or with a very small population.

    Where cutouts are concerned, I wait til spring if they're not going to be able to build up well.
    That sounds reasonable. I just came across some freebie frame feeders, and will fill them fill of dry sugar and see what happens. I have tried to avoid doing cutouts late, but most of them get passed on to me from Orkin, and by the time people get annoyed enough to call Orkin, there is no talking them into waiting. Only once in 10 this year have I been able to convince someone that waiting is better.
    John Sampson-Tucker County, WV
    "Get your picture with a bee beard instead if you want street cred." Vance G

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Clover, WV
    Posts
    130

    Default Re: Top Entrance Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by rhaldridge View Post
    Actually, you can use a top feeder with a top entrance. I made these inner covers from 3/4" ply. This one is shown upside down.

    topenter1.jpg

    You have to use them with a migratory cover if you're not using them with an empty super, but they work fine. The slot is routed out 3/8" deep. The screened hole is sized so a standard Mason jar feeder fits.

    If you have to close them off, you can just flip them over.

    One advantage I discovered for these inner cover/entrances is that you can work the hive from the front and still be out of the bees' flight path, because the slot is on the side.
    This is a much better setup that I had planned on trying. I will build some of these tonight. Thanks for the photo.
    John Sampson-Tucker County, WV
    "Get your picture with a bee beard instead if you want street cred." Vance G

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Clover, WV
    Posts
    130

    Default Re: Top Entrance Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    > I was planning on boosting them up with syrup now, and using the dry sugar method for carrying them over if needed. Is this methodology wrong?

    They react differently to storing syrup and having dry sugar. They both have advantages and disadvantages. I've never seen robbing break out over dry syrup...

    Anytime you feed syrup you should reduce ALL the entrances on ALL the hives and feed ALL the hives at the same time.
    I guess I will be doing some reducing tonight.
    John Sampson-Tucker County, WV
    "Get your picture with a bee beard instead if you want street cred." Vance G

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    West Palm Bach, FL, USA
    Posts
    78

    Default Re: Top Entrance Issues

    With a top entrance only, how do you get rainwater from collecting at the bottom of the hive? I'm in South Florida and it rains a lot, some beekeepers slope their hives towards the bottom entrance to ensure the water drains out. How do you do that if you only have a top entrance?
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Zone 10a; Elevation 13 feet

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Posts
    1,187

    Default Re: Top Entrance Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr_Clean View Post
    With a top entrance only, how do you get rainwater from collecting at the bottom of the hive? I'm in South Florida and it rains a lot, some beekeepers slope their hives towards the bottom entrance to ensure the water drains out. How do you do that if you only have a top entrance?
    Most hive reducers (that folks turn to block off the lower entrance) are not watertight.

    You shouldn't be getting a lot of water inside, unless your covers leak pretty bad.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,761

    Default Re: Top Entrance Issues

    With just a top entrance and a closed off bottom entrance you should still have your hive sloped towards the front so that rain water can't go backwards back under the entrance block and lay on the bottom board under the boxes. Like rhaldridge said, you shouldn't be getting that much water to be concerned about unless your top leaks bad anyways. If you are going to run exclusively top entrances, why not do away with the standard bottom board and just let the hive set on a piece of plywood the same dimensions as a box, with a 3/8" rim all the way around on top side, and a couple rails attached to the bottom side for it to set on your hive stand.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Romania, Sibiu
    Posts
    136

    Default Re: Top Entrance Issues

    Hi,

    How does the bees manage cleaning the bottom board using the top entrance only? Don't they have a bit more work to do in carrying the dead bodies upwards?

    Cristian

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Elmira, NY
    Posts
    937

    Default Re: Top Entrance Issues

    They have no difficulty keeping the bottom board clean.

    They do have to carry stuff up to the entrance -- as they also often do in the wild.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    657

    Default Re: Top Entrance Issues

    I have a small bottom entrance as well as the top entrance. It's only 1/4" most of the year and opened up more in hot weather. Found it greatly improved air flow in the hive with little condensation in the top of the hive over winter. In summer there is also very little bearding in hot weather. Also found the bottom of the hive is cleaner with the small bottom entrance as well.

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