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I know this topic has been discussed before. But I have some specific questions about the bottom of the hive.

What does the bottom of your set up look like or consist of?

I was thinking of securing hardware cloth to the bottom box, and just letting the mites drop through to the ground? But what about winter? Won't that be too much cold and exposure? And can the mites crawl back up into the hive?

I've seen some people put the entrance above the brood boxes and below the honey supers. What's the purpose/benefit of that?

Would it be beneficial to have both a top and bottom entrance? Anyone have experience with that?
 

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While I have a little knowledge I will share it. I have hives with top and bottom entrances. I see the need for top entrance after I add suppers. The workers bring in nectar have less travel time going in the top entrance and leaves more time to forage. I do not close off the bottom entrance and so the bees can come and go with ease. If I have to add more suppers I will also add more entrances.
I do have SBBs on my hive during the summer months. I replace them in the late fall with solid bottoms and closed down the entrances.
 

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You’ve a good deal of flexibility where hive bottoms are concerned when you use a top entrance.

Some of mine have regular bottom boards, with the entrance closed.
Some just have a piece of plywood. These I sometimes make into a mini pallet by ripping a pressure treated 2x4 in half and nailing it to the front and bottom edges. If there is no stand, it gets the bottom board up off of the ground so it lasts longer.

As near as I can tell Michael Bush rips shingles into shims and nails them onto the bottom of his plywood tops.
Not a bad idea if you don’t have to buy a bundle to make some. Door & window shims are too short – they leave room for bees to go out behind them.

I cut shims as wide as the edge of my boxes (usually ¾” and 3/8" or 5/16” (one bee space) thick.
I cut them to length and glue them into “U” shaped shims to match the box tops. These go between the top and the box to make an entrance.
I don’t bring the sides flush to the front, though – I leave room for a shim to slide across the front to adjust or close the entrance in case of robbing or severe cold.

You could staple hardware cloth to the bottom of your bottom box as you suggest and then put a piece of coroplast or plywood under it in winter.
It will limit your options, though, as then that box must always be the bottom one. (No reversing brood boxes in spring for swarm control, for example.)

I’m setting up a new bee yard, and have some empty equipment in it. I’ll try to get over and take some pics or video for you so you can get a clear understanding of what I’m talking about in case I am not being clear enough for you to visualize it.

By putting the entrance between the brood nest and the supers, you don’t have to mess with it when adding/pulling supers, and the bees don’t need to find where you moved the entrance to every time you do so.
It also prevents comb honey producers from having the bees soil the comb with their foot traffic.

Sometimes in summer I have both top & bottom entrance.

The ‘pros” to it are better ventilation, dead bees are taken out more easily, and when the entrance is really crowded it reduces the traffic bottleneck.

The disadvantage is it makes the hive as vulnerable to skunks and such as any other hive with a bottom entrance, and the queen may not lay all the way to the bottom of the frames. (Again as with any bottom entrance).

Have fun.
Enjoy your bees.
 

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I have heard some commercial beeks use a pallet with hardware cloth covering the slats where the bottom board usually goes, and the eschew the bottom board leaving only the open box sitting on the hardware cloth.

I have also heard that bees are more likely to abscond when they can look down and see the ground. I usually put a piece of plywood or something under my hardware cloth bottoms. It is usually spaced so there is a gap under the cloth with little wooden spacers or cleats.
 

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Since switching to upper entrances I have started using slatted-racks with #8 hardware cloth as a bottom board. It is the same dimensions so there is nothing to make the hive wider. When I want to close the bottom off it is easy to slide masonite, cloroplast or something else underneath.

Tom
 

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One thing I think that is missing is that people forget that if you use a QE you HAVE to have a bottom entrance. This is the only way the drones can get out. As for the mites/draft, what I did was cut down the sides of a cat litter bax and put it in the hole underneth. I then filled it with an inch of Veg oil and that will catch a years worth of mites. I just make my SBB by making a box with 2x4s and then staple #8 cloth over it. I then add a frame of 3/4" redwood around, leaving a 1-2" openning in front, for the boxes to sit on.
For the top, I just have plywood and 3/8" frame on 3 sides, with 3" extra out the front to add a landing strip under it. I found out the hard way that bees don't like holes in the cover though. I have 3 hives and the two with holes are doing almost no work on the top box and are only up to 4 boxes where the one with a closed lid is almost up to 7 boxes.
 

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I have a few lang boxes where I have drilled a one inch hole in the bottom box and use a disk entrance. The top box has the inner cover slid back about 3/8ths inch to make a top entrance. Mostly for ventilation because of the solid bottom board. The bees still mostly use the bottom entrance, but they do hang out on the top entrance a lot.

How does rain affect everyone else's top entrance boxes?
 
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