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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm considering going to top entrances but don't know very much about it. What is everyone's opinion about advantages v/s disadvantages?
 

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skimedickc, what are you going to do? Install and entrance block?

Much of my equipment is untight enough that the bees could find their own entrance, if I blocked off the bottom entrance. But why would I, or you, want to do that?

Since you didn't say, I'm assuming that you are using standard equipment and not TBH equipment, right?

Tell us more of your situation and reasons for wanting to move the entrance.

I can't, as yet, imagine a problem with moving the entrance. I don't know why the bees would care. Look at a "typical" colony in a tree or building. Where is the entrance? I'll bet that their is alot of variation, since the bees don't make their entrance, they use the entrance provided.
 

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I think the top entrance would at least mean that working bees are climbing down with full stomachs and up with empty, which should be at least a little advantageous. Also in general they will get to the storage area quicker. It must not be a great factor in any event because natural hives do indeed show much variation and are chosen more on other factors.

Another thought would be much less traffic on the bottom board, which should be advantageous in keeping fallen mites from hitching a ride back up.
 

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The drawbacks to top entrances are:
</font>
  1. Dead bees and hive debris are never
    removed as well, so the bottom board can
    become less-than sanitary.</font>
  2. Since the bees learn to use the top
    entrance, tearing down a hive suddenly
    prompts the bees to attempt a landing
    on the taller object, which would be the
    beekeeper.</font>
  3. If comb honey is your goal, you get
    more foot traffic over the comb, which
    can lead to less-than show quality comb
    honey (not a big deal if you pull your
    comb honey just after it is capped)</font>
  4. A higher entrance means a tougher
    job of shielding the entrance from
    crosswinds. It gets windy here, so
    wind can cut back on sorties, and hence
    nectar gathering (as measured with
    hive scales).</font>
  5. As far as mice go, mice can climb.
    They have no problem climbing a hive,
    so top entrances are not going to help
    much if you have a mice/vole issue.</font>
If given both top and bottom entrances,
and/or Imire shims, some fraction of the
bees choose to use one of each entrance
provided. I think that this is the best
of all possible worlds, as the bees are not
stupid, and will pick the closest exit, with
pollen foragers using the lower entrances, and
nectar foragers using the upper ones.

So many beekeepers tout the "advantages" of
one thing or another, when stubborn implementation
of ANY single approach can be observed
to have less-than consistent impact across
larger numbers of hives. So, if you have
a dozen or more hives, you start to see the
advantages of not imposing your will on the
bees in areas where doing so is merely changing
the bee's infrastructure, not clearly enhancing it.

I just notch my inner covers on those hives
with non-migratory covers, and insert a shim
on those with migratory covers. As only a
tiny number of hives consistently use only
one entrance or the other, I consider the
use of multiple entrances during "the season"
to be far superior in simple terms of
sorties per minute and better internal hive
traffic flow.
 

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> 5. As far as mice go, mice can climb.
They have no problem climbing a hive,
so top entrances are not going to help
much if you have a mice/vole issue.

It will not only help. It will eliminate your mice problems. Whether they CAN or not does not change the fact that they don't do it to climb into a live colony.

I see nothing wrong with bottom entrances if you have no mice or skunk problems you like to mow in front of your hives and you don't mind shoveling snow on when it's deep and you have some kind of top vent.


Detrius builds up over winter on hives with bottom entrances also. But it can also clog the entrances. It gets cleaned up in the spring by both eventually, but usually the beekeeper dumps it off in during the spring inspection.
 

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It is suprising how quickly the grass you walk through lays down and stays there.
All of the grass right up to the actual fenced in space the hives are in is kept down by the horses. All the grass in the fenced in Apiary tends to get walked down by me. It would be difficult to get a mower in the small space between the hives and the fence or the front row of hives and the back row of hives, if I wanted to, which I don't. Besides the brome doesn't get waist high. If it's really in my way I can always lay a lid on it and after working that hive move the lid to the next hive. But, if it was really tall, after doing this once it tends to stay laying down the rest of the season.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
> Tell us more of your situation and reasons for
wanting to move the entrance.

I am keeping my bees on a trailer and because of the wheel bases it would be best for them to arrive higher than lower. But I like to be vague when I ask quesitons because I usually get answers to questions I don't know to ask.
I'm still quite green at this.

Dave
 

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Because of the wheel bases? Do you mean that the sides of the trailer will be partially blocking the entrances? Or interfereing with a direct path into the hive?

If so, slide the upper deep forward or back enough to give the bees a place to enter, between the upper and lower deep hive bodies. Sliding the upper deep back gives them a landing board of sorts. The bees who find this entrance easier, more accessible, will use it and those who like the bottom entrance will use it.
 

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If you use upper entrances and also keep the lower entrance open you will observe (1) in the spring and early summer the upper entrance is almost exclusively used and (2) in the heat of the summer the bottom entrance is almost exclusively used.

In the heat of the summer the bees fan the hot humid air OUT of the hives via the upper entrances. By mid-fall, both entrances will be freely used.

If there is no bottom entrance, some hives will remove all debris through the top entrance. In my case, this is 'most' hives. But some will let quite a bit of debris build up.

I think there are two disadvantages to upper entrances (1) it is hell to draw comb for the first 4-6" immediately next to the upper entrance. Whether for comb honey or brood/extracting. This can 'easily' be resolved by reversing the hive bodies. (2) If the beekeeper uses queen excluders, supercedure queens (or queens after a swarm) will ALWAYS end up above the queen excluder.

That said, the improved ventilation almost always trumps the disadvantages, particularly when summers are hot with high humidity, or when winters are cold so that condensation might occur inside the hive. For overwintering, I have upper entrances on 100% of my 200 hives. During the summer I run upper entrances on all hives (including those run for comb honey) EXCEPT those being used to draw foundation for brood.
 

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Lloyd, all my inner covers are notch side down
(creating entrances) by the first flow, and
I've only rarely seen this exclusive use of
one entrance or another.

Given that I know that you are flying NWCs
similar (or identical to) mine, I'm wondering
if you have screens as bottom boards or not.
 

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I noticed that Walt Wright mentioned in a recent post that one can monitor the landing board to tell how the hive is doing in general, that is, watch the percentage of bees with pollen vs bees with no pollen.
Seems like this technique wouldn't be possible with top entrances, unless you had a landing board there.
 

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>Seems like this technique wouldn't be possible with top entrances, unless you had a landing board there.

You can still watch the bees come and go. You can still tell if pollen is coming in or not. Once they are regressed they pretty much ignore the landing boards anyway.
 
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