Seely found that bees in trees preferred a bottom entrance about 2 square inches. Gravity helps them clear dead bees, wax cappings, and so on.Hi
So what are the benefits of a bottom entrance considering the fact I have to go to the apiary every night and close it up and then back every morning to open it up again, otherwise i am chilling the brood.
According to his latest book - this has been revised.Seely found that bees in trees preferred a bottom entrance about 2 square inches. .......
Hi Thanks for that .. I suppose that up in trees there is less problems with rodents, and as far as detritus in concerned how do they clear it in feral colonies where the entrances may be anywhere? perhaps "help" is a human preconception. Deep litter in live stock is seen as muck to be cleaned out by some and a heat source by others. So as far as chilling brood is concerned is there any evidence of large bottom entrances in feral colonies? and in managed hives perhaps we should give them a box full of holes and let them decide what they want, propolise the rest and not impose something on them that they keep having to adapt to, every time we decide to change it.Seely found that bees in trees preferred a bottom entrance about 2 square inches. Gravity helps them clear dead bees, wax cappings, and so on.
They have avoided chilling the brood for hundreds of millennia, so they are pretty good at it.
In Summer, my entrance is 13/16 x 14-1/2 (11.75 sq in). I add a reducer in Fall when I see less bees flying or I see a lot of robbing. Other than that, I let the bees manage things inside the hive.
Hi FrankI am surprised thet Little John has not taken you to task yet. His colonies survive very well with a wide open hive bottom. It would be fatal though in winter if used with the large upper ventilation that works in other systems.
Very small lower entrance with no upper ventilation is also fatal if some circumstance plugs that small bottom entrance. Ask me how I know about that.
We have to be careful with the vision we get peering through a knothole.
LOL ...I am surprised thet Little John has not taken you to task yet. His colonies survive very well with a wide open hive bottom.
And - for the benefit of 'Top Entrance' beekeepers ...Of course it is far better not to keep bees in places that are not exactly right, but needs must when the devil drives, and bee farmers find themselves driven that way more often than is exactly convenient. So if you have bees so situated, take a lot of bits of wood one-eighth of an inch thick, or less, section wood will do, or matchsticks, or even some two-inch wire nails, place one of these small objects under each corner of the inner cover, and your hives will usually keep dry enough. This question of dissipation of the moisture thrown off by the bees is a very important one; much more so, I believe, than packing and double-walled hives, for in my opinion bees do not need to be insulated, packed or ****ered up in any way in Britain. After all, they winter perfectly well in chimneys, roofs, and all sorts of cold, draughty places. I remember one lot in an old pollard willow when I was beginning to take an interest in bees. The combs were all of four feet long, the tree was split from top to bottom, and the combs could be seen in half a dozen places. It had been there for many years, the farm men said, and might have been there much longer had I not come along.
Again, I saw some of Madoc's hives in Norfolk one winter, when woodpeckers had made large holes. In some cases the holes were big enough to put your fist into, and the clustered bees could be seen through them, but the bees wintered all right, I believe. I have seen bees come through the winter well when housed in old cracked boxes that were about as airtight as a colander ...
LJMaybe I ought to say a word about top entrances for wintering. The trouble is that I have never tried them. I'm always intending to; but when the time comes we are all so dreadfully busy that it gets put off until next year. All I can say is that it seems well established that bees winter well with these entrances arranged at the top of the hive, combs do not get mouldy and hives keep dry and sweet. I must try some - next year. The difficulty seems to me to lie in the changing over, at the time of putting bees into winter shape, from the bottom to the top entrance, and in the reversing back again in the spring ...
ROB Manley, 'Honey Farming', 1945.
In heavy winter conditions it works well to have wide bottom entrance or whole bottom open. The most deadly set-up is one smallish bottom entrance.Local conditions. For certain... I have no wax moths or small hive beetles and the Carni style bee I have shows close to zero inclination to swarm. We can get up to 3 feet accumulations of snow and approaching -40 F is not uncommon. I effectively lost most of my colonies last winter from apparent being suffocated by heavy snow and an unusual heavy rain with a quick return to freezing. I had only lower entrances which was a new thing to try. The warm trapped bubble at the top was a convincing image! I bought in.
The previous 6 winters with 6 or 8 hives I had zero winter losses. The autopsies did not point to any of the other typical winter loss causes.
This winter they have a 1" hole below the handle in the top brood box and a half by three quarter hole in the feed shim. Most of the colonies have partially propolized the feed shim holes to one or two bees width. Bottom entrance with mouse guard is roughly 3/8 by 3 inches.
There's another issue which keeps occurring to me, although it would need a lot more thinking about before any trials were undertaken ..."There’s no question that ventilation is needed, but I think if we could refine our understanding of how much is needed and when, modify our boxes to direct the convective flows away from the cluster’s center, and increase insulation around the Winter cluster, we could help our bees live healthier, lessen the burden of Winter provisioning, and reduce Winter losses."
At least in the US (with the abundance of the commercial Italian bee lineage mixed in, and oversized Langstroth equipment used) - wintering exclusively large clusters is both a problem and a necessity (try wintering in 3 deep/10-frame Lang tower)......... [/B]Therefore, if Wedmore is correct, and the primary Winter honey requirements of an average population of bees are in the range of ~21 lbs., it seems like our need to provision Winter stores at four times that amount, may indicate something about the burden on bees to generate additional heat beyond their basic needs. One obvious reason is the loss of heat by an abundance of added ventilation.........
And yet we observe the bees' gluing-up of cracks within a beehive (which would otherwise provide some ventilation) - with their priority always being to seal the topmost area first. And - they can often be observed to have reduced the size of an entrance too. It would appear that their behaviour is directed towards sealing-up their cavity as tight as possible, leaving just the smallest of entrances - i.e. zero passive ventilation.I live in a very humid climate so can answer LJ's speculation about moisture. It will absolutely kill a colony of bees if too much builds up inside the hive.
At least in the temperate forest setting, here is a typical wild bee dwelling.Yet the amount of water produced by dessication of nectar into honey, and the amount produced as a by-product of honey/sugar metabolism during winter is phenomenal.
How do we square these two observations ? Are we to accept that bees have some kind of inherent 'death-wish' and are hell-bent on suicide - or is there another explanation we're overlooking ?
Robert what is your thoughts regarding possibility that an overabundance of insulation would result in the bees being too warm and therefore not entering the low metabolic state and thus consuming more stores. Other words is there an optimum amount of insulation.Congratulations on the "treatment free" hives! I'm 50 years into applied engineering going into 5th years of beekeeping. I raise my own bees and some queens but have to treat in the Fall winter.
My location is 'damp' - i.e. 'humid', but without the heat. This is a turning area alongside my driveway:I live in a very humid climate ...