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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    Pleasant Shade, TN
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    453

    Default Top Entrances and Robbing?

    Going to be using top entrances on a few hives this year. I've been pondering on the possible ease of robbing given that the entrance will be closer to food stores. Has anyone made any observations on this topic and have you noticed a difference (ie higher robbing tendencies, lower robbing tendencies, or no difference at all)?
    A man is worth just as much as the things about which he busies himself- Marcus Aurelius

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Top Entrances and Robbing?

    As long as the hive is strong enough to protect itself, top entrances pose no problem as far as robbing from what I have experienced. Something I did notice however, nothing to do with robbing, but, when using nothing but a top entrance the bees stored quite a bit of pollen in the honey supers along with the honey. Never heard of anyone else having that issue, but it happened to me with every hive I tried a top entrance on. Won't be using solely a top entrance again, maybe in addition to a small bottom entrance though.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    4,063

    Default Re: Top Entrances and Robbing?

    Top entrance is definitely not a problem. Too much entrance on the other hand is a definite problem. Some colonies though seem to be able to defend what is theres with the lid blown off. Most get robbed out.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,462

    Default Re: Top Entrances and Robbing?

    I've noticed that my bees won't store honey anywhere near an entrance or an auger hole or a large crack between boxes. What does having an upper entrance at the top super mean as far as the bees filling that super?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Pleasant Shade, TN
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    453

    Default Re: Top Entrances and Robbing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    I've noticed that my bees won't store honey anywhere near an entrance or an auger hole or a large crack between boxes. What does having an upper entrance at the top super mean as far as the bees filling that super?
    Michael,
    I am not sure to be honest with you. Given your observation, I would say honey is stored towards the back and in lower boxes. Will the bees put brood closer to the top entrance?I will let you know here in about 7 months I guess. Have you noticed lower production in yours? It's an idea that I've played with, I have also read it in MB's book. I like the idea of not having to mow as much grass.
    A man is worth just as much as the things about which he busies himself- Marcus Aurelius

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    2,898

    Default Re: Top Entrances and Robbing?

    Besides not having to keep the weeds or grass cut, an upper entrance helps with skunk problems.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,401

    Default Re: Top Entrances and Robbing?

    I've been using primarily, all upper entrances, with the main entrance immediately above the brood nest. In this situation, the bees have been placing virtually all pollen in the brood nest. Even when I sometimes place a queen excluder between the brood nest and the main entrance opening (forcing all foragers to traverse the excluder, to enter or exit the brood nest), very little pollen finds its way into the honey supers.

    My entrance rims have a robbing screen, built-in. It seems to help reduce robbing in colonies where one is used.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
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    Default Re: Top Entrances and Robbing?

    Joe C., I put my upper entrance at the very top above any honey supers all the time, maybe that's why I saw so much pollen in the supers. Doing it your way would probably work much better. Do you use a single deep or double deep for brood? How thick is your entrance rim that you insert between the boxes?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,401

    Default Re: Top Entrances and Robbing?

    jmgi,

    I think the answer to your question can be found here.

    I only use 8-frame, medium depth supers, throughout, configured as in the above link.

    I have entrance rims, in various thickness, from 1/4" to 1/2", the deeper ones make it possible for the bees to build more burr/brace comb in the space created by the rim. For me, the benefits far outweigh the issue of some burr/brace comb.

    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 12-30-2013 at 01:08 PM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    2,898

    Default Re: Top Entrances and Robbing?

    Joe C., very interesting setup you run for entrances, actually it was that same Jerry Hayes POV that pushed me to try upper entrances on some hives this last year. Thanks.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Pleasant Shade, TN
    Posts
    453

    Default Re: Top Entrances and Robbing?

    Thanks for the input folks! JC, thanks for posting the diagram. It cleared things up for me as well.
    A man is worth just as much as the things about which he busies himself- Marcus Aurelius

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    1,212

    Default Re: Top Entrances and Robbing?

    Disadvantages:
    1. Bees will not draw foundation anywhere near an opening.
    2. Bees will not store honey anywhere near an opening
    3. Bees will store pollen throughout the honey supers

    Advantages:
    1. Upper entrance protects from some predators
    2. Upper entrance is less likely to be covered by snow
    3. Upper entrance exhausts water vapor in winter

    I gave up on permanent upper entrances 35 years ago when I determined that skunks never bother my bees and we never get enough snow to worry about. I do however maintain a small upper entrance that allows moisture to escape in winter.

    I also tried using Cloake boards as entrances similar to the graphic J. Clemens posted. These work pretty well though they still suppress wax building a bit. If the Cloake board is used for a few months in spring then removed, it is an excellent tool for producing queens.
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Top Entrances and Robbing?

    Fusion Power, you are the first person I believe that confirms what I have noticed when using a top entrance, that is pollen will get stored in the honey supers. I tried some top entrances this year and when I went to pull honey I found several combs in each super that had pollen in them, and I don't mean just a few cells, but lots of it, if fact, I had some combs that I would say were 60% FULL of pollen along with some honey. Now, I will say that I did have queen excluders on the hives for part of the time, so maybe that had something to do with it. I plan to continue to use excluders, but I won't be using top entrances for awhile.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    686

    Default Re: Top Entrances and Robbing?

    Going back to using bottom entrances only this year. Will deal with skunks with wire fence.

    Had a bottom entrance, mid height and top entrance. Bees were reluctant to store honey in upper supers and as stated above, likley due to not wanting to store near entrances and draft in upper supers.

    Natural order of hive from bottom up is pollen, brood and honey overhead. Also my understanding is that bees prefer to drop off pollen "nearer" to entrance. ??With a bottom entrance, bees and queen will keep brood more towards bottom???????

    Also going to block center of bottom entrance and use two 2 1/2, side, entrances to keep draft away from center. Bees more likely to keep brood in lower brood super.

    Also a lot less bee confusion during inspection when bees are used to using a bottom entrance.
    If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    2,898

    Default Re: Top Entrances and Robbing?

    mgolden, completely agree with you on top entrances. I did like them though for only one reason, skunks. I will go back to using wire mesh and aspirin eggs if I need to.


    As you said, bulk of pollen gets stored in the lowest brood box when using bottom entrances, queens just don't like to lay much down there, probably due to proximity to entrance gap. Don't know if reducing the bottom entrance down significantly will help with queen laying down there more, never experimented with that. Maybe those slatted racks help with that, some say it does.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    686

    Default Re: Top Entrances and Robbing?

    jmgi, something to try is blocking the center of the bottom entrance and leave a 2 1/2 opening at each of the sides. From my experience, there was brood in 2/3 of center frames in bottom deep brood when I blocked the center.

    Think a wide open center entrance causes a "draft" up the center and brood nest is consequently higher in the hive.
    If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Top Entrances and Robbing?

    If lack of brood in the bottom box is a common occurence when using wide open bottom boards, then it makes total sense to restrict that entrance down significantly to promote better queen laying down there, I mean I know that the bees know what they're doing, but if you only have a two box brood chamber and the bulk of the brood is in the second box and the first box is not being used for much besides pollen storage (which I have frequently noticed), then seems to me a waste of space. I know full well that a good queen can lay much more than one deep of brood.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    1,212

    Default Re: Top Entrances and Robbing?

    Maybe those slatted racks help with that, some say it does.
    Slatted racks aka Killion bottom boards make a huge difference here in the deep south. They increase ventilation, eliminate problems with mold on combs, increase egg laying near the entrance, and improve drawing foundation. I just built 10 brand new to replace existing that are pretty much rotted out after 20 years use.
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,401

    Default Re: Top Entrances and Robbing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
    Disadvantages:
    1. Bees will not draw foundation anywhere near an opening.
    2. Bees will not store honey anywhere near an opening
    3. Bees will store pollen throughout the honey supers

    . . .
    Location is quite important, and may be the deciding factor, here. Though both you, and Michael Palmer, mention seeing issue #2. I've never seen any of those, "disadvantages", expressed in even one hive. Though I've only been running upper entrances for a little more than a decade, I've only been doing it at my present location.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,316

    Default Re: Top Entrances and Robbing?

    My hives are all top entrance only. The top box is usually full unless I just added it. I went to top entrances when the skunks became a problem.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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