Bees won't go in the bottom...??
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2015
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    Bloomfield, IA USA
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    23

    Default Bees won't go in the bottom...??

    Fairly new beekeeper here. This has been a crazy start to this year - colder weather than normal. Only had a couple hives that survived - one is now gone and the other the bees are going in the top under the lid. They won't go in the bottom. I haven't ever seen this. I am loathe to take it apart to see what's going on... but I will if needs be. Does anyone have any idea what might be happening?? Thank you.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
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    2,657

    Default Re: Bees won't go in the bottom...??

    Once the bees establish a pattern it is hard to get them to change it. I would suggest just provide them a bottom entrance, and let the bees sort it out as they see fit.
    Last edited by shinbone; 05-06-2018 at 02:38 PM.
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Gainesboro, Tennessee
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    1,378

    Default Re: Bees won't go in the bottom...??

    Oh ya. If the bees can go out the lid they often will. Some of our equipment is older and the bees find other exits. Sounds like you need to inspect and remove the upper opening.
    Kamon Reynolds https://youtu.be/VQ9T1mCo5l4 Grafting Queens

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    syracuse n.y.
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    5,155

    Default Re: Bees won't go in the bottom...??

    most likely they brood is in the upper box, as the brood is pushed down lower do to honey on top, the bees will usually move down to the fastest way in. some never learn.
    mike syracuse ny
    Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Ronald Reagan

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Bloomfield, IA USA
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: Bees won't go in the bottom...??

    Going under the upper lid is all I see - in and out. If I close off that I’m afraid they won’t use the bottom...? Going to replace the screened bottom with a solid - hopefully that works. I know they aren’t happy. They are all congregated at the top when I took off the lid. Thanks for the help everyone.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,514

    Default Re: Bees won't go in the bottom...??

    Why are you afraid to inspect the colony and see what's up? Might be a very good idea. Bees brooding at the top of the hive at the end of winter is normal.

    If you have a two-box hive and there is brood only in the upper box, reversing the boxes is one thing you might try. By now it is warm enough to do that. But if there is brood in both boxes, then I would consider supering up if you don't want to expand the brood area to three boxes and/or if you are nearing a nectar flow.

    You can also run with bottom boards stacked, with the current screened board above the solid one. You get the best of both worlds. All of my colonies are set up like this.

    In the winter all of my bees use only their upper entrances, but by now some of them are transitioning back down to their (still-reduced) bottom entrances. But some never will and they will continue to only use their upper entrances all season long, only using the lower one for taking out the trash. There is nothing wrong with an upper entrance, if the bees prefer it that way.

    Curiously this strong preference for upper vs lower entrance is stable over time and seems to also follow along the queenline with the open-mated daughters retaining the preference even though all of my splits start above Snelgrove boards and these are exclusively bottom-entranced until they are mated and ready to be put on their own stand. At that point I give all colonies a choice. Whichever entrance gets the most action is allowed to become their main one and the other is reduced down to what can be easily guarded depending on the size of the hive. Some of my largest and strongest colonies use only two 1" diameter upper entrances all summer long, despite being three deeps of brood nest plus one or two, 10-frame deeps of comb drawing and honey collecting.

    Don't be "loathe to open" and inspect your hives. That's only way to care for them effectively. Without it you will may swarm, parasite and disease issues and never know about it, nor have a chance to improve the situation.

    I am curious about what underlies your feeling that it would be a harmful to your bees to look inside the colony.

    ETA: Here's a picture of my bees (probably in late March - you can see the snow still on the ground and on the adjacent hive top). They are always up in the top of hive at that time of year, and remain so even after I reverse boxes to give them more space to expand their brood area upwards into fresh areas of drawn comb. Believe me my bees are not unhappy with the arrangements, and I doubt yours are either if that's what was worrying you about seeing bees up under the inner cover.
    nancy's pics 100.jpg

    Nancy
    Last edited by enjambres; 05-06-2018 at 04:43 PM.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    1,527

    Default Re: Bees won't go in the bottom...??

    I caught a swarm in a double deep 8 frame set up. All my migratory covers have a small top entrance which the swarm is using. Theres a few guard bees on the bottom entrance but no activity there. I'm not going to disrupt their flow pattern. Another hive uses small warm side entrances exclusively, and upon inspection was the only hive I have that I had to reverse. Whatever entrance they want to use, more power to them. Not inspecting your hive to see what's on is going to be your biggest mistake.

    In a week or two I'm going to inspect the swarm I caught to make sure I have a viable queen and to see where the brood is located and how the colony is utilizing the drawn comb in both boxes. Not inspecting typically leads to dwindling hives by late summer, dead hives by early winter.
    Zone 5 @ 4700 ft. High Desert

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
    Posts
    2,657

    Default Re: Bees won't go in the bottom...??

    Quote Originally Posted by springersports View Post
    Going to replace the screened bottom with a solid - hopefully that works.
    I know they are all the rage right now, but I ran screened BBs for a bunch of years and never saw any kind of an advantage. Mostly, the bees just would not use the bottom box due to too much of a draft, or too much light, or something else about the screened BB they didn’t like.

    Instead, along with a solid BB, I run both a top and bottom entrance year round. With the two entrances, the bees can more easily control ventilation through the hive, and I let the bees decide for themselves what the micro-climate in their hive will be.
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  10. #9
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Sheboygan County, WI
    Posts
    210

    Default Re: Bees won't go in the bottom...??

    If you haven't done an inspection after winter, there is a good chance the bottom of the hive is full of dead bees that died over winter, the living bees cant get them out, and they plug the bottom entrance until you help them out and clean and scrape them out.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    OKC, OK USA
    Posts
    2,940

    Default

    Yeah, although an inspection appears warranted based on your post, your bees will move down when they feel the need to. Learn to trust them, they have been doing this for millenia, most of that without our "help". 😎

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