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Author Topic: Top Entrance Hive Questions  (Read 5169 times)
winginit
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« on: October 12, 2010, 01:02:12 PM »

I am winterizing my two hives and have lots of questions. As a newbee, I've made every mistake in the book, or so it seems, and I just want to make sure I'm handling the top entrance hives correctly. I just removed the screened bottom boards and replaced them with a solid bottom board (1 inch ply). I reduced the top entrance on one of the hives to 3/8 inch tall by about 3/4 inch wide, but the whole front entrance cleat is loose (not glued). Is the entrance small enough, and do I need to glue it? My winters rarely get below 5 degrees maybe a few nights of 0, and lots of 10-20 degree weather. The last few winters have been very snowy and we get ice. Winters seem much wetter here than my old home in Kansas City, and most days we're ten degrees warmer than Kansas City, even though we're both in zone 6. I converted to top entrances mostly because of the winter precipitation, and a high risk of not being able to get to one of my hives after an ice storm.

I am not using an inner cover. Is that correct?

Also, the top cover (1 inch ply) is slightly larger than the hive body. Hives don't get ice cycles do they? If so, I guess I would just tilt the hive slightly back away from the opening? Right now it tilts ever-so-slightly forward so rain runs off but doesn't go into the opening.

Per Michael Bush's Lazy Beekeeping, the hive tops are not painted. I think I'm going to regret that!
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danno
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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2010, 01:46:35 PM »

  3/8 inch tall by about 3/4 inch wide top entrance is large enough. Without a inner cover you must have added a shim to make this enterance.  As for the bottom you need a mouse guard.  Mice will move in come Nov and destroy combs and just stink the place up.  I also put a shallow vented box with some kind of insulation above a inner cover.   The ones I use are box, inner cover and top enterance in one with 10- 3/4" screened vent holes.  For insulation  I use R15 glass of just a 3" book of straw.  With insulation you wont have ice on top and infact up here in Michigan the snows piles up over a foot deep in my colonies.    I summer the insulation is removed but the vent box stays on for summer ventalation
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kathyp
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« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2010, 07:30:59 PM »

you'll start one of the great debates here!   grin  if you live in a cold climate i would not use both a top and bottom entrance.  one or the other.  i know people say that the top entrance allows for moisture to evaporate, but it also sucks the heat right out of your hive.  if you have a fireplace you'll be familiar with the effect.  tip the hives and any moisture will run down the sides.

i don't know why you are not using an inner cover?  i do.  they give a little extra insulation and a small air space to also deal with moisture.   depending on the type of cover you are using, they help keep the bees from gluing the thing on so tight you can't get it off.
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winginit
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« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2010, 09:27:31 PM »

A little clarification--I have no bottom entrance. And yes, I added shims to the top cover.

So inner covers with top entrances are recommended?

Danno, I don't get it. Sorry! You have the hive, then the inner cover, then the top entrance cover, then a super on top of that for insulation? Or a super between the inner cover and the top entrance? And if the latter, how do you create a path for the bees to get through the insulation?

LOL Kathy, I'd love to start a debate!
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2010, 11:03:20 PM »

>I am winterizing my two hives and have lots of questions. As a newbee, I've made every mistake in the book, or so it seems, and I just want to make sure I'm handling the top entrance hives correctly. I just removed the screened bottom boards and replaced them with a solid bottom board (1 inch ply). I reduced the top entrance on one of the hives to 3/8 inch tall by about 3/4 inch wide, but the whole front entrance cleat is loose (not glued).

Not sure what you mean by "loose".  It's stuffed in the gap?

> Is the entrance small enough

Yes.  It's fine.  I could even be wide open and be fine, but that's probably good.  Mine are more like 2" by 3/8" typically but often they are wide open because I don't get around to getting them reduced.

>, and do I need to glue it?

I'm not sure how solid they are.  Mine are nailed with one nail in the center so I can pivot it open.  How will you open it if you glue it?

>I am not using an inner cover. Is that correct?

I don't.

>Also, the top cover (1 inch ply) is slightly larger than the hive body. Hives don't get ice cycles do they?

Of course.  I'd make them the same size as the hive as the blow off more often if they overhang.  They never seem to blow off when they are even with the sides.

> If so, I guess I would just tilt the hive slightly back away from the opening?

If you tip the hive back the water will get stuck in the bottom won't it?  Or do you have no drain in the bottom anyway?  There should be some way for moisture to get out the bottom even if it's just a crack somewhere.

> Right now it tilts ever-so-slightly forward so rain runs off but doesn't go into the opening.

Rain won't go in the opening to any extent that matters.

>Per Michael Bush's Lazy Beekeeping, the hive tops are not painted. I think I'm going to regret that!

Paint them then... I'd hate to see you regret it.  1" ply is pretty stable... but if I was going to paint anything on a hive, it would be the top of the lid.
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« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2010, 06:53:04 AM »

you'll start one of the great debates here!   grin  if you live in a cold climate i would not use both a top and bottom entrance.  one or the other.  i know people say that the top entrance allows for moisture to evaporate, but it also sucks the heat right out of your hive.  if you have a fireplace you'll be familiar with the effect.  tip the hives and any moisture will run down the sides.

i don't know why you are not using an inner cover?  i do.  they give a little extra insulation and a small air space to also deal with moisture.   depending on the type of cover you are using, they help keep the bees from gluing the thing on so tight you can't get it off.

Your spot on with your comments. Although I personally would change the using one or the other, to just suggesting a bottom.

To add to your thoughts.....

Studies and observations in nature all conclude that bees prefer, seek out, and benefit from bottom entrances.

I have never seen a good reason to use a top entrance......period.

And as for moisture concerns....that is a beekeeper made problem induced and magnified by beekeepers feeding syrup in the fall and throughout cold weather. Quit feeding syrup, and you will not have moisture concerns.

Of course the industry promotes feeding syrup in the fall and winter and have all kinds on neat top feeders, etc. The after the moisture problem is created, they sell all kinds of other gadgets to take care of the problem. (ventilated tops, shims, etc.) The they turn around and sell wraps and other items to keep your bees warm. Then beekeepers come along and as they are always trying to be first and create the better "mouse trap", start giving advice that is far from what bees are programmed to deal with.

It' easy....

Honey....18% moisture
2/1 syrup  33% moisture
1/1 syrup...50% moisture.

In nature, nobody is feeding high moisture syrup. Bees seek out bottom entrances. Bees will propolize a nest with propolis, and bees do benefit from trapped heat in the upper chamber especially in late winter and early spring for brood rearing.

Not that hard to understand.
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« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2010, 07:01:32 AM »

Bees will not naturally choose an entrance that will get covered in snow and make easy access for the mice and vulnerability to the skunks... but most beekeepers give them one...
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« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2010, 07:42:03 AM »

Bees will not naturally choose an entrance that will get covered in snow and make easy access for the mice and vulnerability to the skunks... but most beekeepers give them one...


That may be true. In nature they choose a cavity 10 or more feet high. But one with a bottom entrance. This is two different topics.


What beekeepers should do is understand the dynamics of the hive and why bees prefer one type setup over another. And studies have should that bees prefer bottom entrances.

Then they should as beekeepers, ensure that hives are on stands or elevated so skunks are not a problem.

But to leave them on the ground, then change over the hive configuration to a top entrance which goes against what bees call for in nature, is not solving one issue alone, your solving one issue by creating another.

As I said before...I have never seen a good reason for top entrances. And if this as good as the response is, it only reaffirms my position.

As for mice....not sure what type you have, but mice around here go into bottom, top and everything in between entrances, just fine. I hope your not suggesting from your last comment that mice can't scale the hives.  rolleyes

I have also had bees swarms select empty hives sitting on the ground making your idea that bees never select an entrance that will get covered by snow a bit questionable to me. It certainly is not the concrete statement cast in black and white you suggest.

I would rather suggest to beekeeper to get the hives off the ground IF skunks are a potential problem. But I think suggesting changing over the hive dynamics to solve a skunk problem is a bit of the mark. Maybe it's just me, but I'm just trying to do things a bit more natural and learn from what the bees show us.... Wink
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danno
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« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2010, 09:46:53 AM »



Danno, I don't get it. Sorry! You have the hive, then the inner cover, then the top entrance cover, then a super on top of that for insulation? Or a super between the inner cover and the top entrance? And if the latter, how do you create a path for the bees to get through the insulation?

LOL Kathy, I'd love to start a debate!

What I have is a shallow box 4" high with a pc a masonary dadoed in 3/8 of a inch above the bottom rim.  This leaves room for a 3/8 X whatever area to cut a top enterance below that masonary.  The box works as a inner cover, upper enterance, vent box in summer and space for insulation in the winter.  This sits on a double deep in the winter and in summer above the honey supers
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L Daxon
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« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2010, 11:26:05 AM »

Danno,
How do you keep them from building burr comb with that much empty space in your shallow inner box? (or am I misunderstanding the set up.) I thought the catalogue say not to leave shims/rims on too long or the girls will burr them up.

And BB,
When you say you have never seen a reason to use a top entrance, period:  Forgive me if I am  mixing issues here, but if you are taking about having only one way in or out period, I understand the one way is probably best on the bottom, but do you never use a secondary (third or even more) entrance or upper offset when you are suppering during the flow so the bees don't have to crawl all the way down 3, 4, 5 or more boxes to get in and out?  I've always drilled a small hole in my honey suppers so the girls can get in an out quicker when they are really busy.  (But them I am a real slave driver.  I want them in and out as quick as possible so they can be out collecting more nectar!)
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linda d
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« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2010, 11:41:56 AM »

idaxon,

Yes, I use "upper entrances"...not to be confused with "top entrances".

I use these upper entrances when I unnaturally enlarge the colony by adding extra space, comb, and boxes, for honey production, etc. This may be for a period of 3 months or so for the late spring, early summer when supers are on.

I think the idea of extra upper entrances like having holes in supers, is a completely different discussion as compared to the promotion and use of year-round top entrances, and many times suggested in place of bottom entrances all together.

I actually have secondary holes in some my upper brood box. But the location is one that still allows a 75% of the upper box to trap heat. And over time, many bees will fill in this upper entrance since they are just hole in the box. Far different that the "top entrance" that some use which is constantly opened, the propolis seal is broken, and to which acts like a chimney letting heat out at the highest point of the hive.

There is also nothing wrong with one entrance....even if it is at the bottom. The hives, if properly positioned and slightly leaning forward, will not have an entrance completely covered in ice. I've seen some really bad ice storms, and within a day or two, the ice will melt away by the sun or the hive's heat itself. And I have NEVER had a hive suffocate. This whole idea that without a top entrance bees will suffocate or not have a way out of the hive is based on unpractical and situations that just don't actually happen.

Good questions.
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« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2010, 11:42:38 AM »

  I've always drilled a small hole in my honey suppers so the girls can get in an out quicker when they are really busy.  (But them I am a real slave driver.  I want them in and out as quick as possible so they can be out collecting more nectar!)
   Like a fire escape  grin

Tommyt
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L Daxon
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« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2010, 01:26:55 PM »

Got it. Upper entrance vs top entrance.  I understand the difference now.  Some year i will get all my terminology straight.

Now about this "slightly leaning forward" thing.  Is that just in fall and winter when the girls aren't really building comb.  I thought the hive really needed to be level when they were building comb, gravity being what they go by and all.   I can see tilting the hive forward slightly during the winter so any upper moisture buildup might condense and roll to the front, then down and out the front entrance.
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linda d
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« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2010, 01:37:03 PM »

Danno,
How do you keep them from building burr comb with that much empty space in your shallow inner box? (or am I misunderstanding the set up.) I thought the catalogue say not to leave shims/rims on too long or the girls will burr them up.


Even though the center hole in my vent boxes is about 2 X 4 the bees seldom enter these so there is not a problem of burr comb.  The only time I find many bees in them is just after pulling supers. 
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2010, 05:06:23 AM »

I don't think that all moisture problems are caused by feeding syrup, but I'm sure a lot of them are.  Still moisture is a problem in humid Northern climates and a top entrance resolves those issues.
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winginit
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« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2010, 10:13:18 AM »

I'm not sure how solid they are.  Mine are nailed with one nail in the center so I can pivot it open.  How will you open it if you glue it?

If you tip the hive back the water will get stuck in the bottom won't it?  Or do you have no drain in the bottom anyway?  There should be some way for moisture to get out the bottom even if it's just a crack somewhere.

Paint them then... I'd hate to see you regret it.  1" ply is pretty stable... but if I was going to paint anything on a hive, it would be the top of the lid.

Great idea to nail the shim and then pivot it. Right now it's stuffed in and I could see it coming out on accident. But it doesn't sound like that big a deal even if it does.

I don't have a drain on the bottom, and I don't know if the plywood has enough cracks.  Smiley

I'm sure not-painting works for you, but my carpentry experience is next to nil and after just a few months, the top of the box joints on my supers are warped enough to allow entrances. Of course, I only nailed where the nail holes were, and didn't glue. I'll do more next time. For the plywood tops, I'm just wondering what I'll learn that I did wrong there (besides making a 1/2 inch eave for the ice cycles!). Ah well, that's what's fun about this hobby, always lots to learn and multiple right answers.

But my problem is, I really want both my hives to survive the winter. I know I shouldn't set myself up for disappoitment, but I want it BAAAD.  tongue  We have a lot of winter and spring precipitation here, and one hive is in a misty valley, so I'm working hard to alleviate moisture.
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winginit
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« Reply #16 on: October 14, 2010, 10:14:46 AM »

What I have is a shallow box 4" high with a pc a masonary dadoed in 3/8 of a inch above the bottom rim.  This leaves room for a 3/8 X whatever area to cut a top enterance below that masonary.  The box works as a inner cover, upper enterance, vent box in summer and space for insulation in the winter.  This sits on a double deep in the winter and in summer above the honey supers

Do you have a picture?
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danno
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« Reply #17 on: October 14, 2010, 01:14:50 PM »

What I have is a shallow box 4" high with a pc a masonary dadoed in 3/8 of a inch above the bottom rim.  This leaves room for a 3/8 X whatever area to cut a top enterance below that masonary.  The box works as a inner cover, upper enterance, vent box in summer and space for insulation in the winter.  This sits on a double deep in the winter and in summer above the honey supers


Do you have a picture?


here are the plans
http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/plans/all_season_inner.pdf
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L Daxon
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« Reply #18 on: October 14, 2010, 02:13:36 PM »

Danno,

I printed a photo of one of those built that I found on photobucket at the end of August but the link no longer works or I would post it.  I printed the pix out cause I thought it looked like a good idea and something worth trying to make.  Now I have the plans.  Thanks.

Linda
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« Reply #19 on: October 15, 2010, 12:42:17 AM »

>And if this as good as the response is, it only reaffirms my position.

You are fond of assuming a debate and then assuming victory...  your welcome to assume what you like.

I think all of those reasons, mice, skunks, blocked entrances from grass, snow, and dead bees, would be good enough for me, but better overwintering is also on the list... a tree has a lot less issues with condensation.  Between no cold lid, more overhead insulation, more moisture absorbing material (dead punky wood) it is a very different proposition.

I can't say I've seen any pattern to where  the entrance is.  Seems like bees take what they can find.  A hallow space seems to be the main criteria, but if what the bees want is the criteria then you need your hives more than 10 feet in the air probably with a MIDDLE entrance, but I don't like climbing ladders to work bees...

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« Reply #20 on: October 15, 2010, 06:50:20 AM »

>And if this as good as the response is, it only reaffirms my position.

You are fond of assuming a debate and then assuming victory...  your welcome to assume what you like.

I think all of those reasons, mice, skunks, blocked entrances from grass, snow, and dead bees, would be good enough for me, but better overwintering is also on the list... a tree has a lot less issues with condensation.  Between no cold lid, more overhead insulation, more moisture absorbing material (dead punky wood) it is a very different proposition.

I can't say I've seen any pattern to where  the entrance is.  Seems like bees take what they can find.  a hallow space seems to be the main criteria, but if what the bees want is the criteria then you need your hives more than 10 feet in the air probably with a MIDDLE entrance, but I don't like climbing ladders to work bees...



Oh come on.

"Bees taking what they can find" is on the same level of saying "Bees will work and use any foundation offered".

Both may be true, but you certainly can see the benefits, or at least you have promoted a difference, in different types of foundation. You certainly don't give it the whole "Bees will take any foundation you give them".

You may not of seen a pattern to where the location is, but studies have clearly shown bees do prefer a bottom entrance. That bees do propolis the top of the hive very airtight. And it is certainly a concept that can be applied without your "working bee 10 feet in the air" viewpoint.

I agree that skunks and mice are a problem. But you can deal with that problem without using top entrances. And as I said, mice which are way more of a problem than skunks, can climb any hive no matter where you put the entrance.

I also agree that a tree has more moisture control, and probably a better r-value, than the standard hive. Moisture is not a problem in feral colonies, since nobody feeds them syrup, and the moisture is dealt with naturally. But I also know that more cavities in old trees are propolised completely over. They smooth over the inside with propolis making any absorption much lower than perhaps what you are suggesting. Take some unplaned and rough cut lumber and make a hive box, and you will see the same results inside your hive.

Anytime a person makes concrete statements and put it's on a website, I realize it's hard to back up, change direction, and admit perhaps some information was not correct. I think of the days years back when many made the claim that smallcell was natural. But over the years, and the promotion of TBH and foundationless systems, I can see a slight and ever changing movement in wording and much different promotion of smallcell as compared to years ago. I suspect that perhaps this will be the case also with top entrances. But that is ok. I know it will take time. And just like one of the first persons who was bashed for calling smallcell foundation unnatural and even claimed it was a bunch of overhyped crap, I can take all the heat now.

You can control moisture in a hive without changing over to top entrances. You can have hives survive without changing over to smallcell (many made the claim you could not just a few years back). You can have foundationless systems without building top bar hives (many suggest TBH or Warre are the only way to benefit from "natural" comb) But with some, they get bent on promoting one type, and state that this certain way of beekeeping is the only way to deal with this problem or another. And in every case, it is not true. They see things with blinders that they created themselves, pushing their way of beekeeping. Top entrances is not about letting the bees "take what they get" and by forcing them to deal with the detriments of a top entrance. Yes the bees will deal with it. What I'm suggesting is understanding the dynamics of the hive, understanding what bees seek naturally, and giving them what they benefit from most. And that would be bottom entrances, for the reasons suggested earlier, and backed by studies.

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« Reply #21 on: October 16, 2010, 12:41:40 AM »

>You can control moisture in a hive without changing over to top entrances.

You can solve a lot of problems by many methods.  Top entrances just happen to solve that one along with many others.

> You can have hives survive without changing over to smallcell (many made the claim you could not just a few years back).

A few years back I never heard anyone claim that they could.  I have never claimed that others could not, but only that I could not.

> You can have foundationless systems without building top bar hives (many suggest TBH or Warre are the only way to benefit from "natural" comb)

Which has been done for 200 years or more.

> But with some, they get bent on promoting one type, and state that this certain way of beekeeping is the only way to deal with this problem or another. And in every case, it is not true.

Bees are very adaptable.

> They see things with blinders that they created themselves, pushing their way of beekeeping.

I'm not entirely sure who you are referring to...

>Top entrances is not about letting the bees "take what they get" and by forcing them to deal with the detriments of a top entrance.

No it is not.  It's about helping them deal with many issues.

> Yes the bees will deal with it. What I'm suggesting is understanding the dynamics of the hive, understanding what bees seek naturally, and giving them what they benefit from most. And that would be bottom entrances, for the reasons suggested earlier, and backed by studies.

It reminds me of the line in the dryer sheet commercial right after they say women prefer the smell of it followed by a pause.... and "tests prove it!".  What you are claiming is backed by studies (which you have not referred us to) is that bees supposedly "prefer" bottom entrances.  That is not the same as saying that they are better.  I'm not sure how one would come to the  conclusion that they prefer them since I've seen many wild hives and have never seen an actual bottom entrance... I've seen lower mid and upper mid, but I don't ever remember a bottom entrance.  I do remember one or two top entrances where they got in through a limb to get to the main hollow part of the tree... but no matter how many you count, it's still a statistic that could be a mere coincidence.  I'm sure I've read some research that says that a top entrance is the way to solve moisture problems, and don't  remember where anymore... but I'm sure you  don't want to talk about that research anyway.  While it may be true that bees have good instincts, they are not perfect instincts and we sometimes need to adapt to the unnatural situation we have put them in.

Once  again you have turned a conversation about one thing (top entrances) into a self proclaimed declaration of victory on several other discussions we were not even having,  including small cell and  natural cell.  I would prefer to stay on the topic.
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« Reply #22 on: October 16, 2010, 05:28:38 PM »

MB, we have had this discussion in the past. 

And I have time and again suggested where to find the studies. I have also stated many times that the results have been published in Bee Culture and various other places. A collection of these studies are also published in a book called "Swarming - Biology, Prevention, Control and Collecting." And to be very precise ISBN# 0-936028-09-2

This simple books outlines and references studies by such beekeepers as Richard Bonney, Roger Morse, Jeff Ott, to name a few. Maybe you have heard of them. The studies are also part of the Cornell archives, to which you can search yourself. I'm tired of the same discussion and the the same playbook, and the results of me having to dig for everything.

While I can back up these claims that bees prefer bottom entrances with studies, you throw out concrete statements like "Bees will not select an entrance that will be covered by snow" to which 1) You can show no study. and 2) Is a fact that most beekeepers know is false the first time swarm goes into a hive sitting out behind the garage.

I point out things like smallcell because at one time you did call it "natural". And if you remember when I started calling you out on it, you then changed to "well, it's more natural than regular foundation". I think you have slid towards natural cell much more in the recent years. I think that is great. But of course I think of the days when I was one of the first who debated long and hard against all the bogus claims of smallcell. I stated that sooner or later research would catch up to what some of us "Unscientific folks" were claiming. And that did happen. Of course I also railed against FGMO and a few other things if you remember. It's not so much me bringing up past crap all the time for no reason. It's to show that even you, after enough years, do change in tiny increments. And it's not like you have not updated your website a couple times after I pointed out flaws.

I don't do this to be mean. I do this because I sincerely think that you got this all wrong about top entrances. And I have a bet going with myself that sooner or later you will realize the natural dynamics of the hive in regards to heat retention and air flow, and will come around sooner or later. To be frank, I probably do not look good going up against you on such matters. Many love your site and knowledge. But lets not get to the point that we should assume that anything you say, or what I say, is always 100% correct. I'll be wrong sometimes, and so will you. I just happen to think, and have some pretty good research behind me, to show that you are wrong in promoting top entrances. It does go against what bees seek, desire, and select in a cavity. And there are reasons for that.

As much as I hate the Warre hive, I think he nailed it on the head with his ideas and observations in regards to heat retention. And this is supported by years of study. And I will debate this everytime a new beekeeper asks questions about top entrances. But I also do that for those still passing around advice on prophylactic treatments, use of strips, and a bunch of other things out there. You just are more visible than others. Plus your fun to debate and I like you..... grin
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« Reply #23 on: October 16, 2010, 11:31:00 PM »

>While I can back up these claims that bees prefer bottom entrances with studies, you throw out concrete statements like "Bees will not select an entrance that will be covered by snow" to which 1) You can show no study. and 2) Is a fact that most beekeepers know is false the first time swarm goes into a hive sitting out behind the garage.

Ten feet above the ground is definitely unlikely to get covered by snow.  A height which your studies clearly indicate...

>I point out things like smallcell because at one time you did call it "natural".

What I have said is clearly available both on my web site and on these forums.  I consider small cell more natural than large cell but have never said they are the same.  If something I said seemed to say that then I did not choose my words carefully enough.  That they have the same result as far as Varroa I have consistently said.  On many points I have learned things and changed as I learn, but I have not changed what I have said on this.  My page on natural cell size has been on the web for almost five years now and I have only added citations.  It clearly delineates the difference between "natural cell size" and "small cell size" and has since I wrote it.

> And if you remember when I started calling you out on it

Something you are fond of doing even when there is nothing to call...

> you then changed to "well, it's more natural than regular foundation".

I didn't change it.  Natural is natural and small cell is small cell and small cell is more natural than large  cell.  And both have the same end result as far as Varroa.  Which is what I have said consistently.

> I think you have slid towards natural cell much more in the recent years.

My first foray into the small cell concept was natural cell.  I was not convinced that the bees would build smaller on their own without seeing it myself.  Natural cell size was the title of my first article on the subject and was about natural comb compared to various foundation sizes.  As far as advice, I was hesitant at first to try to buck the ingrained concept of foundation, but have concluded that natural cell is better on more fronts than just cell size.  There is contamination to consider.  After letting them build their own spacing and reading Huber, I also discovered that tighter frame spacing led to smaller cells.

>I think that is great. But of course I think of the days when I was one of the first who debated long and hard against all the bogus claims of smallcell.

Bogus claims... no  confrontation there...

>I stated that sooner or later research would catch up to what some of us "Unscientific folks" were claiming. And that did happen. Of course I also railed against FGMO and a few other things if you remember.

I do remember a lot of railing...

> It's not so much me bringing up past crap all the time for no reason.

If it's off topic, it's for no reason.

>It's to show that even you, after enough years, do change in tiny increments.

I try to change anytime I learn something new, which is on an almost daily basis... it just does not happen to be on the topic of small cell.  As far as the topic of top entrances, that is a very recent change in my beekeeping (at least from my point of view) which was driven originally by the skunks.

> And it's not like you have not updated your website a couple times after I pointed out flaws.

I have clarified a few things that seem to be misinterpreted by some people.  I can't think of a single update due  to you "pointing out flaws".

>I don't do this to be mean. I do this because I sincerely think that you got this all wrong about top entrances.

I'm sure you do think that.

>And I have a bet going with myself that sooner or later you will realize the natural dynamics of the hive in regards to heat retention and air flow, and will come around sooner or later.

I've been doing them quite a few winters now and have liked them better all the time, especially when I accidentally forget and have a bottom entrance hive around to compare it to.

> To be frank, I probably do not look good going up against you on such matters. Many love your site and knowledge. But lets not get to the point that we should assume that anything you say, or what I say, is always 100% correct.

I have never assumed that anything anyone says is 100% correct.

>I'll be wrong sometimes, and so will you. I just happen to think, and have some pretty good research behind me, to show that you are wrong in promoting top entrances.

Your only research quoted is concerning the preference of the bees, not what winters better.  I prefer not to get up when my tipi is cold and rebuild the fire.  But my instincts aren't always right.  They are often more complicated.

>It does go against what bees seek, desire, and select in a cavity. And there are reasons for that.

Perhaps they do.  I have not seen that.  Assuming they do, the reasons may be more complex than one thing or the other.  Drainage from rain  water and drainage from condensation require some way for the water to get out would all be better with some kind of bottom entrance.  However these things are taken care of in my hives.

>And I will debate this everytime a new beekeeper asks questions about top entrances.

Please do.

> But I also do that for those still passing around advice on prophylactic treatments, use of strips, and a bunch of other things out there.

Of course.

> You just are more visible than others.

Really?

>Plus your fun to debate

Really?

> and I like you.....

Really?
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« Reply #24 on: October 17, 2010, 10:14:11 AM »

MB, selective memory and forgetting, is not going to cut it.

I mentioned this conversation goes back years.

Here is three posts that I mention the many comments over the years that people keep referencing smallcell as being natural, and my point that it is not.

http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=214754&highlight=smallcell

Post #4

The whole premise of my comments in the next thread was yet again another beekeeper making reference to smallcell as natural.

http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=214647&highlight=smallcell

Post #5

http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=214153&highlight=smallcell&page=5

Post 47


The following thread has me pointing out that smallcell and natural comb are different things. You don't agree with me. In fact, you elude and continue the premise to the casual reader that they are one and the same. You could of distinguished the difference. But you just make mention that they are basically the same. And what you do is suggest that in natural comb, the cell size is consistant with smallcell foundation hives. While that may be true if you are selecting a partial piece of comb of the natural hive while comparing it to the entire hive's comb of smallcell introduced foundation. Of course I call that smoke and mirrors.  

And I'll disagree with that all day long. Forcing bees onto smallcell foundation is drastically different that allowing the bees to draw "natural" comb with no foundation guides. I'm not going to waste more time searching the archives. I think it's a point that I have made for years now. Many, many beekeepers after reading comments such as those pointed out below, wrongly call smallcell comb natural. You can say that these points, and conversations do not exist all you want. But they do.  


This is actually a good thread for those having the time to read it.

http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=214153&highlight=smallcell&page=8

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« Reply #25 on: October 17, 2010, 10:55:43 PM »

The first three threads you refer to are you saying natural cell is not small cell.  I was not aware your stand on this was in question.  You have said that as long as I can remember as have I, although I see them serving the same purpose other than the issue of contamination.  I have never said these conversations did not exist.  Of course they do. Repeatedly.

The last link takes me to page eight but you refer to post #74 which is on page 3 (http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=214153&highlight=smallcell&page=2)

which is posted by me, quoting you and it says, in relation to small cell vs natural cell:
--------------
>>BTW MB, I read in Oct 07 Bee Culture, "Blog" article, that you keep and promote natural cell beekeeping. But yet it seems that every smallcell conversation has you centered in the middle. As if your promoting smallcell much more than natural cell. They are two different things. I know, you'll now be labeling the different types of comb as "more this" or "more that". Smallcell is not natural comb.

>They are close enough to the same and the reasons for their success are close enough to the same that it is merely two ways to arrive at the same end. I have done a lot of both and will continue to do a lot of both.
--------------
Which is what I'm still saying.  Natural cell and small cell are both smaller than large cell and both have the same end results as far as Varroa is concerned.  As far as other issues, they are hard to measure and predict, but I'm sure the variety of natural comb has other advantages.  I am still doing a lot of both.  I am still happy with the results of both.  I am still saying they are succeeding with Varroa for the same reasons and that they are different, as I have been saying and will continue to say.
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« Reply #26 on: October 17, 2010, 11:11:56 PM »

Quote
Natural cell and small cell are both smaller than large cell and both have the same end results as far as Varroa is concerned

i realize that i am not in the same league as you two, but i have to question you about this.  you know my feelings on small cell.  how can natural cell have any impact on mite load since it allows the bees to draw larger cells and unlimited drone cells?  i agree that feral bees are generally smaller and that the cells they draw are generally smaller, if larger than small cell foundation, but it seems to me that smaller bees drawing smaller cells leave exactly the same amount of room for the mites to do their thing....and that's not even taking into account the drone cells.
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« Reply #27 on: October 18, 2010, 07:05:44 AM »

a bjorn snip:
And I'll disagree with that all day long. Forcing bees onto smallcell foundation is drastically different that allowing the bees to draw "natural" comb with no foundation guides. I'm not going to waste more time searching the archives. I think it's a point that I have made for years now. Many, many beekeepers after reading comments such as those pointed out below, wrongly call smallcell comb natural. You can say that these points, and conversations do not exist all you want. But they do. 

tecumseh:
I agree totally.  the whole premise of forcing bees to some cell size would counter everything we might know about breeding bees or livestock.  the fact that regression (to the mean) is a genetic term who's meaning in the small cell context has been highly altered might make you suspect someone is searching for the right marketing term more than a proper explanation.

there is nothing that says someone with lots of effort and time could not readily breed (over several generations) a smaller bee.  the bees in europe (as far as I can tell from historical writing) were not all the same size... so there were at least historically smaller honey bees and larger honey bees.

as far as I know no one has even made even a half hearted case in what mechanism might be working to explain why small cell might lead to fewer mites.  evidently in regards to how science works some folks have a lot of work to do.

I have great confidence that Bjorn can find something here to disagree with.... 
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« Reply #28 on: October 18, 2010, 07:42:06 AM »

Bees will not naturally choose an entrance that will get covered in snow and make easy access for the mice

  that's what Red Tailed Hawks are for! They keep my mice in check. :-D3 The hawks love my yard for some reason, maybe it's the food.

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« Reply #29 on: October 18, 2010, 08:02:40 AM »

>i realize that i am not in the same league as you two, but i have to question you about this.  you know my feelings on small cell.  how can natural cell have any impact on mite load since it allows the bees to draw larger cells...

But in the core of the brood nest they are usually smaller, in many cases much smaller.  I've seen as small as 4.4mm in the core of the brood nest.

> and unlimited drone cells?

The research from Collison says they will raise the same number of drones no matter how much drone comb there is.  One of Dee's theories on why small cell works is that the Varroa can differentiate better the difference between a drone and a worker and therefore infest workers less.  I've done no counts to prove this but if that's true that would shift the popluation curve for the Varroa more to the spring when a lot of drone rearing goes on and less in the fall when less drone rearing is going on.

>  i agree that feral bees are generally smaller and that the cells they draw are generally smaller. of larger than small cell foundation, but it seems to me that smaller bees drawing smaller cells leave exactly the same amount of room for the mites to do their thing....and that's not even taking into account the drone cells.

My count (and Huber's) on capping and post capping on small cell is that it is capped 8 days after layed and emerged 19 days after layed.  My count and the accepted norm for 5.4mm cells is Accepted is capped 9 days after egg layed and emerges 21 days after egg layed.  This makes at least one less offspring from a Varroa that makes it to maturity, which basically cuts reproduction in half.  Then there is the issue of mail survivorship.  The male Varroa has to successfully mate before the mites emerge.  A bee (and the Varroa with it) in a large cell has room to spare.  A bee in a small cell does not.  It grows to tightly fill the space as it was intended to instead of having extra room and attempting to grow to fill it.

>as far as I know no one has even made even a half hearted case in what mechanism might be working to explain why small cell might lead to fewer mites.

There are several theories above and they have been expounded on for a decade.

>  evidently in regards to how science works some folks have a lot of work to do.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesscientificstudies.htm
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« Reply #30 on: October 18, 2010, 09:51:43 AM »

if we need to be able to explain (or even understand) the mechanism of why something works before we can use (or talk) about it, i'd like someone to explain gravity to me (not just what, but why and how) so that i can continue to stack boxes and have them stay on top of one another.

there are lots of things that are different when the size of the cell is reduced.

1.  brood (and bee) density s increased.

2. (and i think this is most important):  when one looks at similar insect populations (and airplanes) of differing sizes, there is a clear cubal (geometric) relationship between length and weight (mass).  when bees are enlarged via using larger cells, the weight increases proportionally (not geometrically) with respect to length.  in essence, this means the bee is bigger and heavier (by about 30%), but the flight muscles (which are used for flying and heating in the hive) are the same mass.  if this were applied to an airplane (longer plane, longer wingspan, more cargo/passenger room) and the engine stayed the same size, no one would expect the larger plane to perform as well as the smaller.

when i first heard some of the small cell claims, i was pretty skeptical.....the claims (from various sources) indicated it would help with any problem...this sounded like snake oil to me.  if, however, we look at humans that are 30% overwieight, we will see increases in almost any imaginable disease (diabetes, cardiovascular, mental illness, cancer, orthopedic problems, reproductive issues, etc), and more of an impact in the individual from these diseases.....any doctor looking at a sick "hive of humans" (an overweight family, community, or population) that is also 30% overweight would prescribe weight loss for all, especially for anyone with obvious health problems...even flu complications are worse in obese people.

yes, i know bees aren't people, but they have tasks to perform (which includes flying with a payload), and making them bigger and heavier but not stronger makes all these tasks more difficult.

i'm also a big proponent of natural comb (we were using foundationless before we even heard of small cell), but in our experience, lc bees, when placed in a foundatinoless situation, draw about 5.1-5.2.  bees use their own bodies as guages to determine what size cells they are building...and bigger bees build bigger cells.

badeaux (who was the one to start experementing with larger cell sizes) was a lamarckian, and used the fact that bees enlarged only because they were given large foundation didn't draw small comb when given the chance (shaken down) as evidence of lamarckian genetics.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamarckism

now, we know that large bees will draw slightly smaller cells when given the chance, and we know that if we keep shaking them down, the cells will get smaller still.  there is nothing natural about enlarged bees, and there is nothing natural about "letting them build what they want" if they are doing this from the perspective of enlarged bees.

this is to say, yes, there is a big difference between "sc" and "natural cell", but "natural cell" built from lc bees is different from "natural cell" from sc bees (or bees that have been on natural comb for many years).  it would be nice simply going foundationless from lc bees quickly led to the same "natural cell" that sc bees make, but it is simply not the case.

our own experience in this was that lc bees didn't regress fast enough...and we lost the colonies before they "regressed themselves".  by first regressing the bees to small cell _then_ letting them build what they want is what we changed in our operation that allowed us to keep bees without treatments, and have them overwinter successfully.  so, although the terms "small cell" and "natural cell" refer to different things, there is a such thing (and, imho, a reason) to "regress to sc" before adopting "natural cell".

wrt the term "regression", yes, "regression to the mean" is a statistical term (not necessarily a genetic one)...but the word "regression" simply means to "move backwards".  the idea that you can add two words to a term, change it's meaning, and then claim that the use of the original single word is indicative of some kind of suspect marketing is absurd....the two terms are as (or more) different as "hive" and "hive tool", "bee" and "bee fly", "honey" and "honey house", etc.
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« Reply #31 on: October 18, 2010, 10:11:46 AM »

here we go again !!!!!
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« Reply #32 on: October 19, 2010, 07:29:05 AM »

deknow writes:
if we need to be able to explain (or even understand) the mechanism of why something works before we can use (or talk) about it, i'd like someone to explain gravity to me (not just what, but why and how) so that i can continue to stack boxes and have them stay on top of one another.

tecumseh:
understanding come later, not before the fact.  that is not to say there is anything that prevents anyone from talking or reading about some topic.  on many occasions science begins with some one describing something.. how something might work comes later.

then deknow adds:
2. (and i think this is most important):  when one looks at similar insect populations (and airplanes) of differing sizes, there is a clear cubal (geometric) relationship between length and weight (mass).  you should be trying to descibe  volume and not area.

tecumseh:
oh my.  solid geometry with a power function is a bit clearer and more precise 'clearer' relationship.

finally deknow writes:
wrt the term "regression", yes, "regression to the mean" is a statistical term (not necessarily a genetic one)...but the word "regression" simply means to "move backwards".

tecumseh:
it is also very much (and often time ignored) term in genetics.  it is also one key aspect of animal breeding that the small cell choir would be quite happy to ignore as would be almost all the basics of animal breeding.  experience with the Cale lines of bees, the Midnight and Starlines should direct you to exactly where small cell fad will go.

I notice that the small cell fans never mention selection, or inbreeding or outbreeding or any of the basic heavy lifting aspects of animimal breeding.  why do you think that is?

old school queen breeder use to consider it a given that for everything you got in breeding a particular kind of bee you gave something up.  if the small cell folks would do the heavy lifting (which as far as I can tell they ain't) and would do the basic WORK to breed a smaller bee (with associated smaller cells) what would you be giving up in the deal?   
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« Reply #33 on: October 19, 2010, 10:21:39 AM »

Quote
old school queen breeder use to consider it a given that for everything you got in breeding a particular kind of bee you gave something up.  if the small cell folks would do the heavy lifting (which as far as I can tell they ain't) and would do the basic WORK to breed a smaller bee (with associated smaller cells) what would you be giving up in the deal?   


my opinion, for what it's worth, is that cell size and bee size have nothing to do with bee health.  i know people who are successfully keeping treatment free bees on small cells.  if you take away their small cell foundation i think you get the real reasons for their success.  they are raising their own queens from survivor stock. they are not going to extremes to save hives that do not thrive.  lots of them (us) are doing our best to save true feral hives/swarms to expand the genetics in our yards.

redoing your hives with small cell or starting with it, is an added cost.  if people can afford it and want to try it, fine.  if you are starting out and want to keep costs down, i'd say skip it.  if you are buying packaged bees, you really can't go treatment free anyway unless you purchased your bees from a treatment free yard.  if you are going to scrounge bees out of walls, let them draw their own comb and save yourself the money smiley

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« Reply #34 on: October 19, 2010, 12:28:38 PM »

just a notion but...

smaller cells gives more cells per comb.  more cells per comb is more eggs laid per comb and more bees born per comb.  more bees equals a larger population.

a larger population allows for more bees to guard, nurse, forage, etc which provides better care for the hive over all.

smaller cells is less room to fit larvae into, let alone a parasite family to grow as well.  lower numbers of parasites.

personally,  I do what kathy mentioned and get my bees from walls and trees, etc... hopefully giving them more opportunity to have gotten to the point of building cell size the way they prefer it.

but that could just bee me.

On the actual topic of upper entrances... based on many of the removals  I have done personally plus many of the photos and videos  I have seen others like JP have done,  I would think that bees worry first and foremost about dry and defend-able before they worry about where the entrance is located.

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« Reply #35 on: October 20, 2010, 09:45:57 PM »

The genetics explanation is nice, it's just not consistent with my experience.

http://bushfarms.com/beessctheories.htm
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« Reply #36 on: October 20, 2010, 09:55:08 PM »

Most of the removals I've done from man made structures the entrance was toward the bottom and most of the trap out I've done from trees the entrance has been toward the top.

In the structures the opening is usually a gaped weather board or some rotted wood as one might see where the wall is not protected from the overhang of the eave so the opening is usually relatively low.

My theory on the trees is: When a branch drops off or a scar is created  the rain/elements travel downward through the hole causing rot below the opening.

Don't know if this points to bee preference at all...just convenience.

Scott
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« Reply #37 on: October 22, 2010, 03:12:12 AM »

tecumseh:

old school queen breeder use to consider it a given that for everything you got in breeding a particular kind of bee you gave something up.  if the small cell folks would do the heavy lifting (which as far as I can tell they ain't) and would do the basic WORK to breed a smaller bee (with associated smaller cells) what would you be giving up in the deal?   

Ah that may be true but with small cell are you really giving anything up.  The bee was forced to upsize itselt on oversized comb.  Wasn't that where the fitness risk was taken?

I have put my bees where the want to be as best I can on 4.9mm.  They are back on the comb they evolved with.  Smiley
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tecumseh
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« Reply #38 on: October 22, 2010, 07:55:31 AM »

big bear writes:
smaller cells gives more cells per comb.  more cells per comb is more eggs laid per comb and more bees born per comb.  more bees equals a larger population.

tecumseh:
ok but you seem to have forgotten one or two small detail.  first a smaller drone will produce less sperm and thereby mating is less effective.  more importantly a smaller queen will produce fewer eggs per day and thereby produce less population.

then lets move to physical characteristics where history suggest a smaller bee will have a shorter tongue and therefore have fewer flower it can access.

so yes bugleman I do think you are giving up a lot of stuff by going small cell.  you have simply failed to consider what exactly it is that your are giving up and then have failed to move to the next question which is... 'is what I am giving up important'.  there is nothing to say that what you are giving up doesn't matter at all.



kathyp writes:
if you take away their small cell foundation i think you get the real reasons for their success.  they are raising their own queens from survivor stock.

tecumseh:
I do think you are on to something here.  at this point in time everything is pretty much survivor stock... every hive is working towards being extremely hygienic. 

in comparing stuff you do need to try and compare apples to apples.  most times I suspect folks 'experience' in rearing bees seperated by years of not rearing bees the beekeeper does not necessarily think that the bees they begin with this time are not the bees they tried to grow 5 years ago.  time has created a large difference even if it is unrecognized.

truthfully... I don't know why some folks seem to have such large problem rearing bees in this era of varroa.  I have come to some personal understanding why my problems seem to be minor compared to a lot of folks and it has absolutely nothing to do with redefining mean cell size. 

I do suspect some folks would do well to consider BF Skinner's Superstitious Chicken (and yes a reference can be provided for all you folks that might need a research monkey). 

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I am 'the panther that passes in the night'... tecumseh.
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« Reply #39 on: October 22, 2010, 09:36:29 AM »

Quote: in comparing stuff you do need to try and compare apples to apples.  most times I suspect folks 'experience' in rearing bees seperated by years of not rearing bees the beekeeper does not necessarily think that the bees they begin with this time are not the bees they tried to grow 5 years ago.  time has created a large difference even if it is unrecognized.

I certainly recognize it... a lot different today than it was in the '70's.
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« Reply #40 on: October 22, 2010, 09:42:54 AM »

Ya, I remember beekeeping in the 70's.   We used to extract in August or September, then put all the honey supers back on the hives and did not look into them again until July or August the next year.   Unless we got a few swarms in the spring, that replaced any losses from winter.    grin
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