From bottom to top entrance question?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Monroe County, PA, USA
    Posts
    44

    Default From bottom to top entrance question?

    My first hive from last year has overwintered and is just exploding. I needed to remove several swarm cells last weekend and will be splitting the hive this coming weekend. I have two deeps (10 frame) completely full of bees and a third deep with 5 frames covered with bees.

    Since the early spring, the bees have been using the small top enterance above the second box as their main entrance, and sporadically using the bottom entrance. The bottom entrance is reduced to the medium opening on a standard reducer. Our nights have been sporadic with temps over the last month, so I left it reduced when I switched the bottom two boxes. I do plan on removing the reducer completely since the temps look to remain higher than 55 for lows from here on out. My question is how do I get them to use only the bottom entrance, or I guess the question should be, do I need to? I have noticed that when working in the hive I encounter many more bees than last year flying around since their main entrance is now disturbed. So should I do something about this or not?

    Thanks, Paul

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Williamsport, PA
    Posts
    412

    Default Re: From bottom to top entrance question?

    They will figure it out on their own over the summer. I think the older bees are oriented to the top but as the younger ones orient they come back to the bottom. By the end of summer, my top entrances are hardly used. Then next spring the process repeats.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
    Posts
    1,936

    Default Re: From bottom to top entrance question?

    Some hives like the top, some the bottom, some use both. Some will argue for one or the other and they both are right. So do what works for you. If you get deep snow in the winter that could block up the lower, its good idea to have an upper too. J

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,470

    Default Re: From bottom to top entrance question?

    In my personal hives I offer both entrances through the first strong flow (around here that's the end end of May-ish). I watch which one a particular hive seems to favor for the summer and I support that. If they are completely settled on the lower one, I will remove the upper shim (with the 1" winter entrance), reverting back to using an inner cover.

    If they are still strongly devoted to the upper entrance, I will likely change out the winter shim for one with two (or more) 1" diameter entrances. In this case I would also reduce the lower entrance even more than usual, for instance to just the small notch. And definitely add some robber screens.

    Even a colony that primarily uses its lower entrance will still have an entrance reducer on, with access being the three-four inch slot, instead of wide open. I think it is easier for bees to control their space (guard, condition the air inside, etc.)when they don't have to cope with the full-width opening.

    All my bees go into winter with the shim on, the 1" holes are covered with corrugated cardboard with a small slit. The bees can continue to use their lower entrances, but most sooner or later chew open the cardboard to the opening size they feel is best for them. At the end of the winter all are strongly using the upper entrance, having chewed the cardboard open to the full 1" diameter of the hole.

    I like leaving it all up to the bees - then I am not second guessing them - i just arrange the options and follow along based on the cues they give me.

    The only down side is the extra rumpus a primary upper entrance makes when inspecting during the summer because you have immediately interfered with the incoming foragers' arrival plans. What I sometimes do is lift the top box off and place it on a stand (with base and temporary top) just in in front of the hive with upper entrance available. Then I work on the boxes below, and only mess around in the top box when it's back in place, on my way out of the hive at the end of the inspection. Seems to help. But lower entrance-favoring bees are much easier to work from the top down.

    Nancy

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
    Posts
    2,649

    Default Re: From bottom to top entrance question?

    I run both an upper and lower entrance year round, and let the bees decide how to use them. I inspect from the back of the hive to not interfere with flight patterns.
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Monroe County, PA, USA
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: From bottom to top entrance question?

    Thank you all for the info. I guess the best way to handle this is to do what I am learning for most things in beekeeping, let the bees figure it out because they know what’s best for themselves.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Northern Colorado, USA
    Posts
    404

    Default Re: From bottom to top entrance question?

    I turned one of my hives into a revolving door trying to do this.

    I placed a triangle escape board between the top entrance and the top box. I was hoping the bees would reorient to the bottom entrance and start using it instead. After about a week most of the bees still seem to be going in the top of the hive and coming out of the bottom. Time to try something different.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    5,517

    Default Re: From bottom to top entrance question?

    Quote Originally Posted by Repsag View Post
    I have noticed that when working in the hive I encounter many more bees than last year flying around since their main entrance is now disturbed. So should I do something about this or not?
    With top entrances this is a normal consequence. It's usually not an issue, just a lot of confused bees flying around when they return to the hive and their entrance is not where it should be.

    What you can do to reduce some of this when inspecting frames is to simply remove boxes and set them down a few feet behind the hive, and check the frames there. This eliminates most of the swirling bees around your head that would have been encountered if inspecting them in place.

    I use all mediums and sometimes have them stacked 5-7 boxes high. If doing a full inspection I will restack the boxes a few feet behind the hive except for the bottom box, and very quickly check the frames in the bottom box. After that all of the returning bees will then settle into that box while inspecting the others, keeping the returning bees out of my way. As each box inspection is completed it will be restacked in the original location.
    To everything there is a season....

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    6,013

    Default Re: From bottom to top entrance question?

    Quote Originally Posted by Repsag View Post
    Thank you all for the info. I guess the best way to handle this is to do what I am learning for most things in beekeeping, let the bees figure it out because they know what’s best for themselves.
    The bees figure things out pretty well no matter what you do. Some of my hives have two entrances that are used. Some have two entrances and only one is used. Bees will be bees.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

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