I have some ideas and questions for anyone who would like to chime in but especially for those using top entrances. I don't use queen excluders right now but I am thinking of doing so.
First, it seems like the problem with getting the bees to go up through the queen excluder is automatically solved by using a top entrance hive. They have to go through it to get out, right? Or will just the foragers go through? What about the drones can they get through the thing?
Second, I just hived my second swarm from my hives today. It was from a hive created from a split earlier this year. I had not expected it to swarm. There is plenty of room in the hive so..? What I was thinking was that if I had put on a queen excluder then they couldn't have swarmed, because the queen couldn't get out, right??.. But then what would they do? Big time queen battle??
Third, two weeks ago I created a split by taking frames from three hives and combining them into one hive. I did this because I found swarm cells in all three hives. So I put them all into the new hive. I gave the hives they came from more space in the brood area. But they are still going to want to swarm aren't they? Could I use the queen excluder to stop them?
I have increased from four hives coming out of winter to 11 at this point. 2 splits, one early in the season from one hive and one two weeks ago from three hives. 5 from swarm catches, two of which were from my own hives, just lucky that I was there both times to see them swarm. All seem to be doing well, although I wasn’t able to get a look at them all today because of rain. I have been initially supplementing the new hives with resources from the established ones but I am wondering if I should be putting on feeders until they build up the brood boxes ??