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How small does a "reduced" entrance need to be?

1064 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  flyin-lowe
I installed my first ever package last week. A friend gave me a hive he built as well as frames with drawn comb. Last weekend the weather in Indiana was crappy, highs in the 50's and rain so I used an entrance feeder. After day two it was empty when I removed the queen cage. I went back on day five to add a new jar and the 2nd was only about 1/2 gone so I don't think they are taking it. The reducer that my friend gave me leaves about an 1.5-2 inch opening beside the feeder. If I remove the feeder the opening will be 4-5 inches (not sure how wide a Boardman feeder is). Will an opening of this size be too large for a new hive or should it be OK? If need be I can make a new reducer, or empty the jar and leave it in place empty until the reducer is not needed. My hive is at an apple orchard across from my house so they have plenty of food, now that the weather is in the 70-80's I don't need to feed them.
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Entrances should be the size that the bees can defend. If the colony is smallish and there may be a danger of robbing reduce the entrance down to just enough space for two or three bees to pass in and out. As it gets stronger the colony will benefit from a wider entrance so more bees can pass easily but also so air can be circulated to dry nectar down to honey.

What you describe should be fine.
see this recent post by psfred also in IN. post #8

I like to reduce the entrance of both nucs and newly hived bees for a couple of weeks, sometimes down to a couple of inches. In the 80 degree's a couple of inches is to small so half open would the way I'd do it.
You know the entrance is too small when the bees begin knawing at the wood. Its a slow pace but the effects can be both heard and seen. Generally a small hive can be reduced for a long while even thru 80 degree days, remember bees like to be confined and the heat allows them to leave the capped brood to forage and draw immense amounts of comb.

Like sqrck says, when alot of nectar is coming in, like right now here, they need ventilation or moisture issues will result, so open up the big hives.
Thanks for the info. I will probably empty the jar and leave the feeder in place with the lid in just to act as a reducer. I haven't done my first check yet but with drawn comb in all frames from the start I am hoping the queen starts/started laying pretty quick. After a few weeks assuming things go well and the numbers start to increase I will remove the feeder which will allow about half the entrance to be open.
first quit the entrance feeder this is the first thing to do to reduce the threat of robbing, use some sort of top feeder. the entrance feeder jar placed over the hole in the inner cover will work fine add an empty super to protect it. I use a block of wood with a jar top size hole and a screen to place between the jar and the hole so I can refill without opening the hive and causing a disruption. if you avoid the entrance feeder then you can get away with a an entrance of 3/4 inch wide most of the time.
Thanks for the advice. I did my first ever inspection yesterday and to my rookie eye everything looked great. Hive is 7 days old and the middle frames had larvae in the centers. With nectar and pollen on the outer edges.
I emptied the jar and put it back in place to keep the entrance at about an inch. In several weeks once the numbers start to build I will remove it completely.
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