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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Currently I have the standard entrance reducer with 2 notches on different faces of a square strip of wood that fits between the hive bottom and the porch of the bottom board. Works the same in SBB and the other one.. (whichever is screened and solid). Works the same way in both cases, but is kind of annoying to change from one setting to the other, because, either the wood has swelled or the bees have propolised it or both or the screen has bitten into it. In any event, there has to be a better way.

I have seen designs where someone has just built in a fixed size and that's what it is going to be! The nice thing about that, like when you see Billy Davis' show it, it has the robbing screen permanently attached, and I am pretty sure with the size of that entrance and the robbing screen combined there are no needs for mouse guards.

Anyway, I still have to get my vape wand into the hive to do OA. So even if I had a fixed width opening I couldn't have a robbing screen in the way at the same time. With my current reducer, I tend to rotate it out to even fit the wand in, then push it back against the shaft and jam a rag along side of it while doing the sublimation.

So I think a successful one would:

1. Be easy to remove or adjust without having to jack up the hive or take off boxes and supers to move it.
2. Allow room for the wand to get in, or see #1
3. Have a way to easily integrate robbing screen, as well as mouse guards, or provide such features without the need of using such things. Or simply have multiple ones with such features and be easy to remove and replace, see #1.

Has anyone done this yet? If I am reinventing the wheel, just sent me a pointer to an example.

Thx..
 

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A few of my hives have a slotted bottom boards. In the end of the SBB I threaded a 1/4-20 hangar bolt. I can use a knob nut to attach robbing screens and entrance reducers to the hangar bolt. SBBs are a pain in the butt to make, so only some of my hives have them. The hives without an SBB use a standard entrance reducer. The attached photo shows a robber screen secured to the hangar bolt. I made entrance reducers (sorry, no picture uploaded and I'm not near the apiary right now) from an old plastic cutting board. I drilled rows of 7/8" holes and then ripped the cutting board into strips right down the middle of the holes, leaving 5/16" high semicircular or arched entrances. One side of the entrance reducer has a bunch of entrance arches, the other side has three entrance arches. Changing from one to the other is as simple as removing the knob and flipping it over. Since I use both I can tell you that it is not any easier or harder than using the standard entrance reducer, so you're over thinking it.

For 8 frames hives you might want to try these on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RX397SF I don't know if they are garbage or not, but they are cheap, and you can get them fast with Prime. You know what they say — fast, cheap, or good, pick any two but you cannot have all three.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Maybe it is too many acronyms.. I do have a slatted rack. That is the picture you have on the left. Not too hard to make, what kind of troubles did you have?

When I was saying SBB it was between SOLID bottom board, and SCREENED bottom board. That contraption you have there in the other picture is impressive. I did one similar that worked out well because of the shape of my porch on the screened bottom board:
rob.jpg

I like the way they integrated the robbing screen in this;
But they seem to be pretty treatment free, so there is no accounting for inserting a wand to sublimate OA.

Something like this was giving me ideas... [video]https://youtu.be/0Xp5T9jPXDM?t=1439[/video] I just never thought of the side fingers. That might work well with just one finger. But it would either stick up/down or straight out in the case of still having a multi hole reducer. Or if the fingers stuck forward, maybe a screen could be built into one like that also. Just thinking.
 

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I just have chunks of 1x cut to about 1/3 the width of a hive body. For a reduced entrance, two go in, for a partially reduced, only one. In the fall they all get 2, in the spring the bees tell me when they dont want them anymore, I find them in the grass in front of the hive.

Had trouble finding a good photo, but I took this one earlier this year to document a problem, and it shows my fancy reducers.
 

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I made some out of PVC that have the standard large entrance but I have another piece of PVC with a groove cut out that allows me to adjust it all the way to closed or anywhere in between. . The plus is they do not swell .However they will still propolize it. Still much easier to remove. You will have to remove it to put a wand in there. In all honesty, Grozzies would be easier and cheaper and work better. J
 

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Until you obtain some bees, I see little point in this barrage of posts focused upon the finer points of beehive design.

The season is moving along - focus on priorities ... GET SOME BEES.

Otherwise another year will have passed you by, following which you'll be no further forward than you were before this year.

Procrastination is the thief of time.
LJ
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Until you obtain some bees, I see little point in this barrage of posts focused upon the finer points of beehive design.

The season is moving along - focus on priorities ... GET SOME BEES.

Otherwise another year will have passed you by, following which you'll be no further forward than you were before this year.

Procrastination is the thief of time.
LJ
Really? I disagree.

I assume it is tiresome and annoying for me to ask a question that an answer will not immediately affect an existing colony somewhere. At least as much as repeatedly being told to go fetch some bees. I will have bees, but unless they come in to my bait hives, it will most definitely not be this season.

Although I do not have a colony at present, I do have a wood shop, and some actual shop time available to do things in preparation for enacting a proper plan come time that I do have bees. Instead of rushing around to quickly do something that is"good enough" I can take my time and compare designs, perhaps even find out that something doesn't work, from someone else's experience.

I am making a major change in attitude by abandoning the ideas that one can support a single hive/colony; that it can be done using the natural techniques, or without lots of constant feeding and constant treatment... especially since, for some reason, nucs are so hard to get before end of April beginning of May.

So,
1. Proper bait hives are being built and arrangements are being made for locations other than my front yard and backyard where they can be placed. They will be deployed most likely mid to late January.
2. New equipment is being designed, built, purchased, or eliminated as unnecessary
3. Old equipment is being cleaned up, repaired, repainted, cut down, or otherwise re-purposed
4. The beeyard, or at least my portion of my backyard that will be my beeyard is being re-negotiated, and re-laid-out so that I have the room and rackspace to be able to do a style of beekeeping beyond a single hive/colony. Including, splits that require hives to be moved a reasonable distance in the process.
5. Contacts are being made with certain suppliers for ongoing requirements
6. Research is ongoing into just who I might get nucs from if I can't catch a swarm, and when an order or deposit has too be in place so that I can actually get them on time
7. Gear up with enough equipment to house multiple colonies, perform splits, feed, treat, and possibly even super hives.

Please don't take this the wrong way. I do appreciate that you have much more experience than I, and may even have forgotten more about bees, beekeeping, and apiculture than I will ever learn. As well, I fully appreciate all the information you are willing to share, and the help you have to offer. But you are going to have to forgive me if I don't just grab whatever bees someone is willing to sell me, and slap them in whatever equipment I have laying around, then struggle to simply fly by the seat of my pants because I went into yet another year half ****ed with intentions of killing or casting yet another colony into the wilds of North Carolina and feeding the other swarm catchers. I have just come out of about 1 month straight of rain. The temperature is well over the 80's and soon it will be too hot to apply any treatments and dearth will set in. This is not really a good time to simply take what I can get and spend all my time feeding and planning my days for cool enough times to apply treatments.

I am not sure what your motivation is for me to "get some bees" and "get to it!" But I assure you, that regardless of whether or not I had bees, would have no affect on how to design an entrance reducer. As a matter of fact, being able to experiment on empty equipment makes it a little easier since I am not having to disturb a colony to try it out.

It would not hurt my feelings to think that you are simply ignoring my questions because you don't feel they are worthy of answers. Others have been quite happy to help, and offer advice that has, in fact, changed several of the parts of my plans going forward. But I would equally appreciate it when you choose to share some of your knowledge as well.

I do hope this doesn't come across as snarky, or sarcastic. That is not my intent. I am as frustrated if not more so with not having bees this season, and have resigned myself to such, l am, however,
taking a little comfort in the opportunity to regroup, and come at this more properly prepared. I am doing my best to employ the 7 P's and to the extent that you can aid me in that, I appreciate it.

Continually telling me to "go get some bees", however, will be as effective as pressuring one's 35 year old single daughter to hurry up and give them some grandchildren :)
 

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I use a 3/16" flat plastic plate with slotted holes so it moves up and down over the full width entrance. It has 6 to 8 holes, 7/32" or 9/32" in diameter ( not sure - memory). Applications are 1) full down for winter - holes only, 2) raise one side with a stick, 3) in Spring when a hive really increases traffic in and out, 4) raise the whole thing in summer / warm weather, 5) fully closed during robbing season especially on smaller hives, 6) tape some holes over if weak hive to reduce number of hole entrances, 7) Raise to install Vaporizer for OAV and cover with damp cloth.

I like the approach and no more aggravation getting the notched sticks in place or out. No need for robbing screens. If It happens, as in a nuc, I apply wet cloth with bottom sticky board removed. I have seen a nuc with 3 to 4 holes which had three holes taped over open one hole from the inside. I also verified the drones can get out, workers quickly adapt even in winter when cleaning house. Plastic and holes never seem to ice over and snow is easily removed or melts away. My sticky bottom boards slide in and have a gap so there is always an alternate exhaust for gases. I have no top vents or top exits - bottom only. OAV'ing is easy.

With this approach I have found hives getting robbed are simply too weak. I have to move them. Being surrounded by large hives in the Fall makes it tough unless a nuc has built up well. I put distance between hive groups; no more than two hives and one nuc. Strange enough, I usually put a nuc between two large hives and they do well. Guardians?
 

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Is it just me, or does that wordy list of things that are being done only sound like more procrastination?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I just have chunks of 1x cut to about 1/3 the width of a hive body. For a reduced entrance, two go in, for a partially reduced, only one. In the fall they all get 2, in the spring the bees tell me when they dont want them anymore, I find them in the grass in front of the hive.

Had trouble finding a good photo, but I took this one earlier this year to document a problem, and it shows my fancy reducers.
That looks good, and very flexible. I think the biggest problem I was running into over time was the narrowness and it getting pushed in too far, or nothing good to grab a hold of.. Reminded me of a picture, some guy just jammed a bunch of wine corks in the opening. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I made some out of PVC that have the standard large entrance but I have another piece of PVC with a groove cut out that allows me to adjust it all the way to closed or anywhere in between. . The plus is they do not swell .However they will still propolize it. Still much easier to remove. You will have to remove it to put a wand in there. In all honesty, Grozzies would be easier and cheaper and work better. J
When I read this, I was thinking of PVC pipe. With one size telescoping inside the other. Unfortunately, I don't think there are really 2 sizes that work well like that, other than caps and connectors and such. For some reason I think a standard wood dowel fits inside a 3/4" pvc pipe..

But anyway, I kind of more assume you are talking about pvc boards like the ones that are flat smooth on one side and have a faux wood grain on the other. So I am imaging a sliding door with a track. I might be imagining it wrong, but it would seem that when opened it would stick out the side of the hive? Best description of what I think you are describing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So when you do the OA you just throw a wet cloth over the opening? I have been really trying to cram that opening hold full of cloth. That definitely sounds easier. I think I have seen the one you are describing. That notched stick is quite aggravating. Worse yet, when I made my first bottom it was screened, I had to trim the thing ever so much to account for the tight fit with the screen partially underneath it. When I build my second bottom board I didn't bother with the screen. I now have two entrance reducers that although they look the same, are not interchangeable, and you can guarantee that if I just grab one to setup, it will be the wrong one... Right now the one in one of the bait hives (the one that has caught 1 single bee .... waiting on her telling her friends to come check the place out.. ) is set in so far maybe 3/8" deeper than intended, I would be cursing it if I had to do anything and it was a working hive. :)

Maybe from a robber's perspective they see all the activity of the two hives and the nuc as 1 activity and don't think it is weak, just one giant colony?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Is it procrastination if it is intentional? After 4 seasons of losing colonies, I kind of felt like I was banging my heat against a wall, repeating the same behavior hoping for a different outcome. So I decided to take off a season and make a plan and come at it properly prepared. Seemed to me like a better way of doing things rather that throwing another helpless colony at the problem and maybe tweaking one more parameter.

I wasn't sure I would have to justify not having bees as much as I have had to. Had I known it would be as big of a problem, I would have just lied and said "Yeah, I have a colony." instead of being honest and truthful.

I would understand if I were asking questions in 101 about "why can't I make my bees do xyz" or "how do I force bees to do abc" or stuff like that, I would get questioned about how many colonies I have and what I am trying to do and what have I tried and what worked and failed... But this is a board about equipment and building it and design of it.. I don't need bees for that. I could be some manufacturer, or woodworking hobbyest that just wants to make beekeeping equipment for sale, or for my grandchild or to donate to some organization doing beekeeping. The fact that I lost my last colony is kind of immaterial to this particular question.

Pretty much nucs are available in April (and with luck delivery can be taken before May) and have to pretty much be ordered by November or December at the latest. I am not comfortable with packages, and late enough into the season they are as expensive if not more than nucs and I don't trust them anyway. Swarms, well are at the whims and wills of St Ambrose or possibly St Jude in my case, and I am not even Catholic :) I feel, what I am doing, by getting out in the shop, building equipment, and trying to do with with some plan rather than "Oh, here is some design let's try that!" is pretty proactive. I am sad that I don't have any colonies. I miss having them. It was a pretty painful loss to lose one so badly, only to have someone "give" me one and watch that one go too all in the same season, before even tulip poplar... when I thought I was doing things correctly.

So I don't think I am procrastinating. I think I am proactively doing everything I can do as opposed to simply putting what I have on CL for sale and washing my hands of it.
 

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Consider the BeeSmart robbing screen. https://youtu.be/3NPOp6TfwnM Video to see it in use. Must have component in my yard after a bad wasp year. Confounds the wasps- they can't figure out entrance. Maximum ventilation. Can be closed but allows ventilation. Prefer plastic over wood. I use an OAV wand from the back (varroa inspection board on top of solid bottom board). So no need to move screen.
 

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Is it procrastination if it is intentional? After 4 seasons of losing colonies, I kind of felt like I was banging my heat against a wall, repeating the same behavior hoping for a different outcome. So I decided to take off a season and make a plan and come at it properly prepared. Seemed to me like a better way of doing things rather that throwing another helpless colony at the problem and maybe tweaking one more parameter.

So I don't think I am procrastinating. I think I am proactively doing everything I can do as opposed to simply putting what I have on CL for sale and washing my hands of it.
Yeah, that's tough. When I lost my last colony 2 winters ago I was pretty bummed. I was lucky and had a nice swarm move in May 2019 and now I have a few colonies descended from that. That bee-free period was a bummer, for sure. I think about all the stories of big-time beekeepers losing thousands of colonies when varroa first hit. Can't even imagine how bad that felt for them. Take care and best of fortune!
 

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Until you obtain some bees, I see little point in this barrage of posts focused upon the finer points of beehive design.

The season is moving along - focus on priorities ... GET SOME BEES.

Otherwise another year will have passed you by, following which you'll be no further forward than you were before this year.

Procrastination is the thief of time.
LJ
There is some merit in looking into the hive designs.
However, that comes secondary to the bees themselves I believe.

I am yet to see how/where/what bees were acquired by OP every time prior to them being dead.
Evidently, some bees are so much worthless in a particular location - they will die no matter the hive design, mite treatment, or general management you apply to them.

At some point, however, this flurry of messages indeed is beginning to look like some direction-less activity.
I would research into the ways of getting the reputably worthy bees primarily and then (secondarily) tinker around those bees trying to learn how to not be killing them. Tinkering around the entrance reducing while the bee issue (the primary issue) is not being figured out - to me is like putting the wagon ahead of the horse. :)

It is basically my approach.

PS: entirely possible, the hive as such IS the OP's primary concern and the main interest;
if so the hive design and (re)design indeed is coming first - some bees will come along, eventually;

But the hive without the bees is dead and useless.
Bees still come first.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
That is definitely a nice robbing solution. I am not following your OAV wand solution. So do you have screened bottom over the top of a solid bottom with a door in it?
 

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Yes if you’re talking to me. I can’t tell. With my setup I have access in the back when I pull the inspection board out. Another essential component for varroa monitoring and ease of use. Purchased from Mannlake. I don’t care to have the screened bottom board open so I put it over the solid bottomboard.
 
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