Hive entrance size.
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cambridge, MD, USA
    Posts
    109

    Question Hive entrance size.

    I'm wondering about the hive entrance size. I built my Langstroth hives to spec off of plans here, with a 3/8" gap between the bottom board and the hive body, however, I noticed that my friends commercially purchased hives have a " "entrance" gap with a " reducer. The " reducer does have about an inch by 3/8" entrance. Seems to me I read somewhere that you should have about a 3/8"4" entrance for the summer and reduce it to 3/8"2" in the winter.

    I might be over thinking this again (have not been able to find out what "acebirdian" means yet) but my plan was to build a reducer to have 2" for winter and 4" for summer but most of the pics I have seen the entrances are much smaller; more in the 1" range.

    Should I go with the 1" entrance?

    Thanks.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    7,854

    Default Re: Hive entrance size.

    The size and shape is only critical in being an area adequate for their needs in ingress and egress. 3/8th is fine and a couple inches loing to start. As the population increases, they will need it larger until all the way accross is appropriate. My entrance is 1/4" to slow down mice from entering. The bees like it just fine and use it and a top entrance as they have both available.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    3,388

    Default Re: Hive entrance size.

    There are, as always, a variety of opinions on entrances and sizes, but the 3/4" deep entrance was originally intended for use in the winter, so that the only entrance (on the bottom of the hive) would not get clogged up with dead bees on a solid bottom board. The reducer is made so that the smaller slot could be set to the upper side, allowing the bees to climb over the layer of dead bees on the bottom board to get out.

    The board was reversable, with the shallow (3/8") side for use in the summer.

    3/8" by 2" is fine for the winter, but I would also leave a similar sized opening at the top of the hive for ventilation. Cold condensation dripping into the cluster is a very bad thing in cold winters.

    Any opening that lets the bees get in and out as the wish while being easily defended against robbers and pests is fine. When you have 60,000 bees in a hive with two deeps and four shallow supers, the whole slot a the bottom board may hardly be enough, when you have a newly installed package, an inch is probably all they need.

    Acebird is the name of a member of this board with, well, highly individual opinions.

    Peter

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cambridge, MD, USA
    Posts
    109

    Default Re: Hive entrance size.

    Thanks everyone!

    You know, I looked at the design after I built the bottom board and said to myself "Hmm, wasn't that cleaver of someone;, making the rails 1-7/8" makes it reversible, 3/8" on one side and 3/4" on the other" but I never even put 2 and 2 together that it was intentional and for dead bees.

    I lernt me somefin nu today.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Calvert, Md,USA
    Posts
    1,692

    Default Re: Hive entrance size.

    Just me, I have mine 4 by 1/2all year. Reduce as necessary. JMHO but my experience has been, little to no SHB. Can't say how this plays into the mite game. Unusual for robbing to occur . That is usually nipped quickly an easily by further reduction if it occurs. So far, no ventilation issues.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    moravia,ny
    Posts
    2,095

    Default Re: Hive entrance size.

    3/8 is a little tight for summer. the 3/4 is for summer and the 3/8 is for winter. In the summer the bees need a larger area for ventilation and evaporation. we use a 2 inch entrance with a slatted rack as seen in the comb honey book by killion. there are many opinions but provem methods may work better. good luck.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Hive entrance size.

    An entrance of 3/8" (bee space) by 4" seems like a good size to me.

    Dr. Thomas Seeley did some experiments in the 90s on the preferences of honeybee colonies when choosing new hives. His research found that they don't much care for entrances larger than 15 square centimetres (~2.3 square inches). I wrote about it on my website.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    10,252

    Default Re: Hive entrance size.

    My hives in summer have an entrance 3/4 of an inch high and open from one end to the other of the front of the box. This is to allow suffeicient ventilation when they are evaporating moisture from summer nectar flow, plus bees getting in and out. I purchased some commercially made bottom boards that had the opening all the way across but are only 3/8ths inch high and the bees noticeably struggle with ventilation on the busy days. So for me anyway, 3/4 inch high is right.

    Winter here is mild so entrance reducers are 4 inches across. But where winters are very cold a much smaller entrance may work, that would be a judgement call based on the beekeepers observations in his climate.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,922

    Default Re: Hive entrance size.

    Originally the 3/8" side of the reversible bottom was for summer. The 3/4" side was to make room for dead bees in the winter. That was the design criteria. I only have one entrance at the top about 3/8" x 2 1/2".
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Decorah, Iowa USA
    Posts
    246

    Default Re: Hive entrance size.

    You don't have any bottom hole? Not even for ventilation?

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Wakefield, Rhode Island, USA
    Posts
    291

    Default Re: Hive entrance size.

    It is not just the hive's bees who use the entrance. Shrews, mice, skunks are opportunistic and prevention is needed not to mention robbing season and other entrance requirements.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
    Posts
    2,615

    Default Re: Hive entrance size.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dale_3rd View Post
    Should I go with the 1" entrance?

    Thanks.
    I use a bottom entrance that is ⅜" by about 13" and an approximately 1" x ⅜" vent in the inner cover (top) 24x7x52 hrs/yr. Keeps rodents out here. Allows bees to control ventilation and not have cooled air flow out the bottom in the summer. Larger openings are harder to defend and unnecessarily stress bees here. We don't have long periods between cleansing flight weather here.
    David Matlock

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Decorah, Iowa USA
    Posts
    246

    Default Re: Hive entrance size.

    I was interested whether Micheal Bush has any lower entrances - summer or winter.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Covington County, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    1,630

    Default Re: Hive entrance size.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swarmhunter View Post
    I was interested whether Micheal Bush has any lower entrances - summer or winter.
    I don't think his website specifically answers your question, but this is a link to his discussion of his use of top entrances:

    http://bushfarms.com/beestopentrance.htm

  16. #15
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Location
    Nacogdoches, TX, USA
    Posts
    228

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dale_3rd View Post
    I'm wondering about the hive entrance size. I built my Langstroth hives to spec off of plans here, with a 3/8" gap between the bottom board and the hive body, however, I noticed that my friends commercially purchased hives have a " "entrance" gap with a " reducer. The " reducer does have about an inch by 3/8" entrance. Seems to me I read somewhere that you should have about a 3/8"4" entrance for the summer and reduce it to 3/8"2" in the winter.

    I might be over thinking this again (have not been able to find out what "acebirdian" means yet) but my plan was to build a reducer to have 2" for winter and 4" for summer but most of the pics I have seen the entrances are much smaller; more in the 1" range.

    Should I go with the 1" entrance?

    Thanks.
    I don’t think you should change it from what you have. You won’t notice too much of a difference. My main criteria for entrance height is whether or not I can easily insert a vaporizer with out having to pry up on the hive body. You can reduce the entrance down based on ventilation needs/colony size/robbing tendency as you go through the year based on your area.

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