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Hello all. Just joined up. Posting from Fremont California, which is suburbia near San Francisco / Oakland / San Jose. (Bay Area)

I've had bees in the past, but have lost the hives to wax moths. Just got a new swarm with the help of some local bee people in the area. A swarm took over an Owl Box 20ft up in a pine tree. We tossed a rope over a higher branch, freed the box from its perch, and lowered it to the ground. We transported them early in the morning and let them settle in for a bit. The Owl box is 14x16, so pretty close in size to a single deep brood box. We estimate they have been in there for a couple of years now. It weighs more than 50 lbs., so I am assuming there is plenty of honey in it.

Last weekend, we pried the old floor off the owl box, and set it on an adapter plate with a 12x14 hole in the middle, and set it on top of two standard brood boxes with with 10 frames each. The old owl box was completely full of comb, and pretty dark colored. So far, all good. Bees are coming and going, and foraging well. Some bearding at night, but its been hot lately. We might get some cool weather this weekend, so we will see if they all head in on a cool night.

Now my big question.
Since the bees have been using the 3" hole in the owl box for years for their main entrance, do I bother trying to get them to use the bottom entrance of the brood box? I know that two entrances are not good, and trying to get them to move to the other port will not be a happy event for them.

Should I:
- Board up the old 3" hole in the owl box to force them to use the bottom board entrance?
- Board up the bottom entrance and let them continue to use the top owl hole? Maybe open up the bottom port in spring when the swarm is larger/stronger.
- Put in a reducer in the top owl hole to encourage them to use the bottom port? and do the same on the bottom port?

I've done a bit of searching on the net about top port hives, and there seems to be some good experiences with it. How is it that we ended up with a bottom port hive system anyway? That surely isn't the way trees rot. (their natural home)

Your thoughts and opinions are welcomed.

Cheers,
Phil
 

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It will take the bees approximately 10 minutes to find the new entrance, and approximately 3 days to end the flights of confusion on nest return. Remodeling the entrance will not cause more than a transitory psychological trauma to the sensitive bees. Typically, guard bees will raise their abdomens and fan at the new entrance to alert the foragers as to the new traffic pattern. Think of yourself as providing meaning and purpose to the guard bee life.

Go ahead and board up the hole. The bees will quickly adapt, and the management will become more straightforward. Eliminating the entrance will also encourage the bees to move down to the managed portion of the hive.

If you can move the queen down (or requeen that portion), you can use a double screen board to strategically depopulate the owl box, and in time remove it entirely.

We have hives with bottom entrances because unstacking honey supers off the top away from the entrance is much easier. Honey is instinctively stored overhead, even in natural comb.
 

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Welcome from Concord.
I would start with just one 10 frame box not 2 or you could have wax moth issues again.
If you want the bees to start using the new boxes it will be best to close the 3" hole. Make them go through the new box.
If you ever find the queen in the new box, add a queen excluder in between so she can't go back up again.
 
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