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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Another strange thing... Of course my bottom entrances have been reduced all winter, with nearly no activity observed there. Day before yesterday I opened up the reducers and dragged out all the winter-kill. So, the bottoms are totally clear now, with reducers put back in place. But, the top entrances are jammed like a Walmart selling toilet paper, and the bottom entrances look like the gates at an airport. Do I need to "retrain" them somehow to use the bottom entrances again?
 

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They'll figure it out.
However, if you are a controlling type of person, and you feel it necessary to bend the bees to your will concerning entrances, you could block the upper entrance.馃檪
 

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The imagined problem will solve itself. If the bottom entrance is open and unblocked by dead bees, it will gain a following. That said, lots of advantages to mid level entrances. Bear in mind the size of opening a colony naturally chooses. That firehose of bees coming in and out of an inch diameter hole is very normal.
 

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Another strange thing... Of course my bottom entrances have been reduced all winter, with nearly no activity observed there. Day before yesterday I opened up the reducers and dragged out all the winter-kill. So, the bottoms are totally clear now, with reducers put back in place. But, the top entrances are jammed like a Walmart selling toilet paper, and the bottom entrances look like the gates at an airport. Do I need to "retrain" them somehow to use the bottom entrances again?
yes you need to put a little sign up near the top entrance, "bottom entrance now open for use" Once they begin using it , the sign can be removed......
 

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Make sure the sign completely blocks the upper entrance, for maximum effect.
 

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A few of my colonies demonstrated the same behavior in the past as well as this year. My experience has been that those colonies had brood in the top box and after I rotated my boxes most activity shifted to the lower entrance.
 

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A few of my colonies demonstrated the same behavior in the past as well as this year. My experience has been that those colonies had brood in the top box and after I rotated my boxes most activity shifted to the lower entrance.
This has been a fun thread to read- I have also observed what MichiganMike noted above. Anecdotally it seems that early in the season they will predominantly utilize the entrance nearest to the broodnest.
 

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So I am interested in whether a top-entering colony organizes the hive differently than with bottom entrance. I have a hive that's all top-entrance for the past year. They have a ton of comb with brood up at the top, and right below that was a LOT of pollen. The bottom box was virtually empty. With the bottom entrance, in my experience, pollen is stored in bottom box. I wonder if , left alone, if they would build down and put stores below brood instead of reverse. I have seen hives that build comb naturally and they tend to build down instead of progressively up.
 

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So I am interested in whether a top-entering colony organizes the hive differently than with bottom entrance. I have a hive that's all top-entrance for the past year. They have a ton of comb with brood up at the top, and right below that was a LOT of pollen. The bottom box was virtually empty. With the bottom entrance, in my experience, pollen is stored in bottom box. I wonder if , left alone, if they would build down and put stores below brood instead of reverse. I have seen hives that build comb naturally and they tend to build down instead of progressively up.
I have also wondered about that - in nature of course, the bees would be at the top of the comb in spring and would have to move down. But my experience in a managed hive is that they want to move up, not down...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So I am interested in whether a top-entering colony organizes the hive differently than with bottom entrance. I have a hive that's all top-entrance for the past year. They have a ton of comb with brood up at the top, and right below that was a LOT of pollen. The bottom box was virtually empty. With the bottom entrance, in my experience, pollen is stored in bottom box. I wonder if , left alone, if they would build down and put stores below brood instead of reverse. I have seen hives that build comb naturally and they tend to build down instead of progressively up.
I was actually wondering about this as well. My colonies are all kept in 3-high 8f medium brood nests. When I did my first full inspections this last weekend (finally a day with nice temps and sunshine!) I found the topmost boxes were booming with lots of brood and eggs, the box directly below had a lot of honey and pollen, and the bottom-most box also had a lot of honey. From what I can tell the lowest honey seems to be held-over from last year, so presumably as the weather got colder the nest just kept moving up and temporarily abandoned the honey at the bottom.

My initial plan was to put 1:1 syrup on top of both boxes, but since there is so much honey already in there I'm hesitant to feed too much and essentially create a honey-bound condition before it even warms up adequately. I don't want to split until I can be confident that the weakened colonies can keep all their brood warm without freezing, since they can't cluster well with all the brood in there. So, I'm leaving them as-is for now, except that I put my top-box feeders in place, so I can give them some water at least. And cleaned out the bottom boards and cut out stray brace comb, general housekeeping. No sign of any varroa or SHB.

Thanks!
 

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Good discussion on this thread- I've enjoyed and appreciated considering everyone's thoughts on this subject.

I imagine that one's locale and management/equipment decisions also play a role in early-season colony development.

I too employ 8-frame equipment with both top and bottom entrances and I tend to err to the side of caution regarding leaving sufficient winter stores and thus have overwintered in both 3 and 4 deep set-ups in a relatively mild location.

What I have found thus far in my specific locale is that all the colonies will promptly set-up shop in the top box of the stack at the first cold snap, and will stay there for the winter, only moving down as they exhaust stores in the top box.

I am uncertain whether this is a function of our climate, my management or a combination thereof, but what this means practically is that early brood rearing begins in the top box, which tends to then 'anchor' the nest higher in the stack.

As yet, I am not satisfied I have found a good management method for this situation, but it might ultimately lend itself to an early season 'reversal' of sorts wherein the top one or two boxes containing brood get moved down to the bottom of the stack such that empty comb for ultimate use as honey supers can be stacked above the nest in a conventional manner.
 
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