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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Reading through some back threads from 2008 (warning: you can get stuck all day doing that) someone brought up a good point for top entrances. When foragers enter through bottom entrances, they have to pass through the brood nest to get to honey supers. Therefore more honey ends up getting placed in the brood nest. If you stick to top entrances, they come in with the supplies and travel downwards, hitting lots of available frames on the way down. Hadn't thought of that before, thought I'd pass it along.
 

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Thanks for this explanation. I also had been looking at old threads about top entrances and saw a few comments about the foragers having less distance to travel to deposit their goods. I had trouble with this idea since they had just flew pretty far, how could crawling a few less inches matter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for this explanation. I also had been looking at old threads about top entrances and saw a few comments about the foragers having less distance to travel to deposit their goods. I had trouble with this idea since they had just flew pretty far, how could crawling a few less inches matter.
I guess for the same reason kids come in the door and dump their backpacks, instead of traveling an extra 20' to put them in their rooms. :)
 

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Second year beekeeper here. I always thought that too, but I took a University of Minnesota course with Marla Spivak and Gary Reuter this spring and was told that in fact, the foragers hand off the honey once they hit the hive entrance, so it does not really matter. As Gary phrased it: the bees have a great union. They're not allowed to store their own honey.

However, that's the only place I've ever heard this explanation. Does anyone have any evidence either way?
 

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#1 reason in my book is bottom entrances can get clogged in the winter with snow, debris and dead bees and when the bees can't hold anymore they let the poop loose and the hive gets wet, then death of the colony surely follows. Can't happen with a top entrance
 

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I have had both top and bottom entrance on mine since i hived them in may.. once i opened the bottom entrance fully they stopped using the top. Once i close up the bottom when it gets colder they may go back to using it more. but they have not closed it up so they don't mind the opening.
 

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Do you call top of the brood box a top entrance or top of the supers? I definitely like top entrance in winter and am playing with some different combinations of bottom, top, both; too many variables but one thing I will pay more attention to is possibly more pollen in the supers when the only entrance is top of the brood box with supers above.
 

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the foragers hand off the honey once they hit the hive entrance, so it does not really matter. As Gary phrased it: the bees have a great union. They're not allowed to store their own honey.
I use only bottom entrances for summer. The foragers pass the nectar to the receiver bees and the receiver place the nectar wherever they can, as quickly as they can, so they can get back to receive another load from the foragers. The receivers place nectar below, around, within, and above the brood rearing cluster. At night, when the flow is finished for the day, the bees move that nectar up and out of the brood rearing comb, and place it up top. I can see no benefit of top entrances to make the bees work easier.

Winter entrances are different. I use both a wide open bottom entrance and a top entrance.

Now if you were to read Dr. Southwick's study...SUNY Albany...on the subject, you will see that bees will locate brood near their entrance. He found that he could move the brood rearing cluster up and down within the hive by opening and closing auger holes in the various boxes of the hive. Open an auger hole above and the brood rearing cluster moves up. Personally, I want the brood near the bottom and will continue to use bottom entrances in the warm months.
 

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I tried upper entrances on some hives as an experiment last year, and found that there seemed to be slightly better honey production on those hives compared to standard bottom entrances, however, it was not great enough of an increase to warrant changing over to all upper entrances. I found that there was definitely more pollen storage in the honey supers, something I don't want as wax moths are attracted to the pollen in the off season in storage. Also, having only a top entrance causes mass confusion when inspecting the hives as all the field bees were trying to find the entrance that wasn't there anymore, and bees were landing in huge numbers on top of the frames that I was trying to remove and inspect, not something I liked at all, just made manipulations that much harder. Bottom entrances are the only way to go imo, except for a small upper entrance in the winter for ventilation and cleansing flights.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Interesting thoughts & studies.

One thing I noticed is that, for whatever reason, my Russian queen hived only used the top entrance. (I keep both top & bottom entrances open all year, with mouseguards.) She ended up swarming, but her 3 daughter queened hives also prefer the top entrance. At first I wanted them to use the bottom entrance because there was more elbow room to come and go, but I finally got used to it. The new Russian package I got this spring, tho, mostly uses the bottom entrance, altho they will use both.

I wonder if different colonies prefer different entrances. Of course, maybe my overwintered Russian hive got blocked off the bottom at some point with dead bees, so they just got used to using the top and passed that on to their followers.
 

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My bees eventually stopped using the top entrances this summer but they continue to guard them. No problems with pollen upstairs as most of them were using the lower by the time I had supered for honey. Will definitely continue to use as they were great for wintertime
 

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.. I can see no benefit of top entrances to make the bees work easier.
Mike, I use both T&B and the bees use both....BUT I also use excluders............the brood is confined in the bottom where I want it and nectar above.... I have receivers both top and bottom........
 

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I started using top entrances this year, and all my hives keep the brood in the bottom two boxes (I run all 8 frame mediums). They seem to be utilizing the comb more efficiently than when I had 10 frame deeps. With the deeps there was always wasted space.

I did expect to run into more trouble with inspections, as I only have a migratory-style cover with no inner cover. However, this has not been the case. I think it is a little confusing for the returning foragers, but for the most part they aren't taking it out on me.
 

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Northern beekeepers may not have an issue with this, but any extracted honey frames with pollen in them are sitting ducks for hive beetles in my area - so much so that i retire them from honey supers and give them to increase hives after they are extracted. When you use an entrance above the excluder more pollen gets stored in the honey supers - and in my view ruins them as honey combs.

I've tried top entrances, entrances just above the excluder, and no excluders - but the conclusion that i have reached is that everything considered (hive beetles considered twice) the old tried and true setup of bottom entrances with honey supers over an excluder work best for my goals.
 

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After having some skunk problems I switched to all upper entrances. I like the uniformity. I don't worry about skunks, deep snow, dead bees blocking the entrance in winter, etc.

I haven't found the bees wanting to move the brood nest up.

When strong hive gets large I will add a second entrance rim and I usually put a queen excluder on top of. Those are the hive I use to produce comb honey.

Inspections can cause some confusion for returning foragers. I guess I am used to it and don't really notice.

Most of my bottom boards now do not have space for an entrance so I'll stick with upper entrances.

Tom
 

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After having some skunk problems I switched to all upper entrances. I like the uniformity. I don't worry about skunks, deep snow, dead bees blocking the entrance in winter, etc.

I haven't found the bees wanting to move the brood nest up.

When strong hive gets large I will add a second entrance rim and I usually put a queen excluder on top of. Those are the hive I use to produce comb honey.

Inspections can cause some confusion for returning foragers. I guess I am used to it and don't really notice.

Most of my bottom boards now do not have space for an entrance so I'll stick with upper entrances.

Tom
Tom, Can you expand n your second entrance rim? I would like to go to top entrances and would very much to understand , it sounds to me like you have a separate rim with an entrance as opposed to a inner cover with one?
thanks
 
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