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I've been thinking of starting a resource hive as part of my management strategy for my (very small, but as big as I want it) apiary. The idea would be to use it to generate resources to help out my main hives should they become weak, raise new queens for my main hives, and as a hedge against winter losses.

I have one concern though, when it comes to over-wintering. In the "standard" design, the bottom board is setup such that the entrances for the "left" and "right" colony face in opposite directions. I understand the rational for that, but I am concerned that this setup could be lethal to one of the colonies in the resource hive. The reason for this being that I would have this hive on one of my existing hive stands, meaning that the entrance for one of the hives would face due north - e.g. where the very cold, often very windy, snow-filled prevailing winter winds come from. I have visions of the colony misfortune enough to get the "back door" being frozen to death by a continued stream of arctic air blasting into the hive. I do setup a windbreak around my hives in winter, but even with that, the north side of my hives tend to get a lot of wind and a lot of snow/ice buildup.

So I have two questions:
  1. Is this actually an issue, or am I worried about nothing? I reduce my hive entrances to a lower entrance the same size as the standard lang upper entrance (about 1 cm x 1.5 cm), plus the usual upper entrance, so there isn't a huge area for the wind to enter.
  2. Is there any reason why I couldn't add the "back" entrance on the long side of the box, so that it would face east instead of north - e.g. place it on the north-east corner of the box. This would give me a resource hive with the entrances for each colony orientated at 90 degrees to each other, rather than the usual 180 degrees.

Thanks in advance.

Bryan
 

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I think the North facing entrance would not be good for the winter. Drill holes wherever you like in the boxes. Forget about aesthetics! Look at VanceG's many posts about a 1" hole below the handhold of the top box as the only winter entrance. (actually I think a slightly smaller hole that takes a standard wine cork might have merit)

I have gone this route with my entrances in anticipation of using this winter. Had bad experience with lower entrances getting blocked this past winter! I still have small lower entrances but the bees seem to prefer the round hole higher on the box. Only a few use the lower entrance.

I have used side by side front entrances on two colonies in one box and they seemed to keep to their own entrances though some people have had migration problems with that setup; I certainly would like more positive separation if flying queens to mate from side by side split hives.
 

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