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Author Topic: top entrance  (Read 1375 times)
OldMech
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« on: August 21, 2013, 04:16:18 PM »


   I have been doing a lot of reading, and talking to people that are available, and have decided on several things, one of which is not so much a decision as it is an experiment, and I need a bit of input...

   Rather than building an inner cover and an outer cover for the two hives I have currently under construction, I wanted to do a top entrance on one of them. Basically a modified solid bottom board with a deeper "bottom" Which will become the top, so I can insulate it. Add a landing board to the front and use a standard entrance reducer if needed..

   Bee space. this idea will add 3/4 of an inch to the top of the hive. However, I have read that most people just put a shim under their top cover to make the entrance, or prop it up in some other way, which, would also add space in the top. Will this cause problems with burr comb in the top?
   
   I understand that cold does not kill bees, moisture AND cold kills bees.. so I intended to insulate the top cover/entrance, but am not sure what effect having a 14 x 3/4 inch opening IN the top will hive.   

   Having no experience with top openings, I assume it should be reduced in the winter?

   I will reduce the bottom entrances to the 1 inch opening, and in effect move the same opening to the top of the hive. Will there still be enough ventilation to avoid condensation? Will they lose too much heat? Will the 30 mph winter winds be more prone to driving into that entrance?

   After much reading and consideration I am going to give it a try on one of the stronger hives I have, but don't want to kill that hive due to lack of experience and consideration..
   I could just prop it open, but... I don't like makeshift remedies when I have the ability to build something correctly.. SO.. in the end, it will have a landing board, which I realize bees don't NEED.. but when I see a bee laden with pollen and nectar crash land on the bottom board and scurry into the hive... well, I know I would be happy it was there if it was me...   It will also have a bit of an overhang at the very top to ward off rain from entering, not to exceed the distance the landing board extends, with an inch of foil backed foam insulation between the exterior top, and interior ceiling. It will fit as a bottom board fits, it will not be telescoping, with the exception of the landing board in the front. that will be attached to the sides at a 45 degree angle. I remove my covers from the rear anyhow, so do not anticipate it being a large problem.

   This isn't a debate on top/bottom entrances, I am just asking for input on the questions mentioned and how YOU would do it if you were going to give it a try. Thanks!!!!
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BlueBee
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2013, 01:57:17 AM »

Q:  Will this cause burr comb at the top?
A:  Yes, as the colony gets bigger.

Q:  I understand that cold does not kill bees, moisture AND cold kills bees.. so I intended to insulate the top cover/entrance, but am not sure what effect having a 14 x 3/4 inch opening IN the top will hive.
A:  You will discover that just like any other living creature, enough cold will kill the bees.  Hence it is wise to insulate the hive just as you would wear a coat going outside in the winter.  It helps retain some heat.  14” x ¾” is WAY too big for a winter top entrance IMO.  My winter top entrances are only about 2” x 3/8”.  The only thing ¾” gets you is mice.  Just ask Mr FInski. Wink

Q:   Having no experience with top openings, I assume it should be reduced in the winter?
A:  Winter for sure, summer too IMO.  3/8” gap is all the bees need.  Bigger just makes it easier to moths and robbers to get in.

Q:  I will reduce the bottom entrances to the 1 inch opening, and in effect move the same opening to the top of the hive. Will there still be enough ventilation to avoid condensation? Will they lose too much heat? Will the 30 mph winter winds be more prone to driving into that entrance?
A:  What bottom entrances?Huh  I thought you were going with tops?  A top and a bottom just makes is easier for heat to escape (chimney effect).  A top is all you need.

OP:  SO.. in the end, it will have a landing board, which I realize bees don't NEED..
BB:  I’m pretty sure my bees like landing boards.   Especially in the fall when the cold weather is brutal to any bees that don’t land like a top gun.  Watch this fall and this will become very obvious.  It's a shame when a bee loaded with pollen dies just become a beek doesn't want to add a landing board.  

OP:  It will fit as a bottom board fits, it will not be telescoping
BB:  This could be a fatal error when the cold October rains come.  
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2013, 09:29:54 AM »

>Basically a modified solid bottom board with a deeper "bottom" Which will become the top, so I can insulate it.

You don't need it "deeper" to insulate it.  Just put a piece of styrofoam, or a bag of tree leaves on top and put a brick on that...

> Add a landing board to the front

Waste of time and energy.  Bees don't need a landing board.

> and use a standard entrance reducer if needed..

Anything can do.  I prefer to use these:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopentrance.htm#make

which have about a 5/16" gap.  Then I cut a piece of screen molding (but you could rip a one by to 1/4" thick and it would work just as well) 2" shorter than the opening and put one nail in the center (up into the cover)  to make a pivot.  This can then be pivoted open and closed.

>   Bee space. this idea will add 3/4 of an inch to the top of the hive. However, I have read that most people just put a shim under their top cover to make the entrance, or prop it up in some other way, which, would also add space in the top. Will this cause problems with burr comb in the top?

Yes.  I would try to keep it smaller.
   
>   I understand that cold does not kill bees

I would say it usually doesn't, but with a small cluster and a really bitter cold snap, it does.

> moisture AND cold kills bees.. so I intended to insulate the top cover/entrance, but am not sure what effect having a 14 x 3/4 inch opening IN the top will hive.   

Definitely bigger than I would have.  The ones I don't have reduced have about a 10 3/4" x 5/16" opening.  The ones I have reduced have a 2" x 5/16" opening.

>   Having no experience with top openings, I assume it should be reduced in the winter?

Half of mine are... probably would be a good idea if they all are, but I haven't gotten it done.

>   I will reduce the bottom entrances to the 1 inch opening, and in effect move the same opening to the top of the hive.

I close all my bottom entrances off... but there is some air leaking around the tray in the ones with a SBB.  And some air coming in the screened area on the ones with solid bottoms that were converted to feeders.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm#BottomBoardFeeder

> Will there still be enough ventilation to avoid condensation?

It really only takes a very small top vent and no bottom vent to let the moisture out the top.

> Will they lose too much heat?

Possibly.

> Will the 30 mph winter winds be more prone to driving into that entrance?

One of the primary things to avoid is a cross breeze.  In other words, all the vents should be on the same side, and it's best if that side is away from the prevailing winter winds.

>   After much reading and consideration I am going to give it a try on one of the stronger hives I have, but don't want to kill that hive due to lack of experience and consideration..

Just don't get carried away.  Bees need to be able to control the ventilation.

   I could just prop it open, but... I don't like makeshift remedies when I have the ability to build something correctly.. SO.. in the end, it will have a landing board, which I realize bees don't NEED.. but when I see a bee laden with pollen and nectar crash land on the bottom board and scurry into the hive... well, I know I would be happy it was there if it was me...

Funny, mine never do, but then I don't have any landing boards anymore.

> It will also have a bit of an overhang at the very top to ward off rain from entering, not to exceed the distance the landing board extends

In my experience this is also a bad idea.  It catches the wind and causes more rain to blow in.  You would need to be a foot or so to have much effect on the rain blowing in and that would just blow off in a strong wind.  I prefer no overhangs anywhere to catch the wind...

> with an inch of foil backed foam insulation between the exterior top, and interior ceiling.

I would prefer the insulation above the top.

>It will fit as a bottom board fits, it will not be telescoping, with the exception of the landing board in the front. that will be attached to the sides at a 45 degree angle. I remove my covers from the rear anyhow, so do not anticipate it being a large problem.

I'm not sure I follow this exactly.  But if you give the bees any access to the foam where it is inside the and and where it's not protected by the foil, they will chew it up and carry it off.
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Michael Bush
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OldMech
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« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2013, 05:40:33 PM »

OK, that gives me some things to consider.
   I was planning on basically building a bottom board to put on the top. When installed it would be bottom side up compared to how a bottom board is installed normally. the insulation would be sandwiched/enclosed so bees could not access it... as well as protecting it from the winds and the ratchet straps I use on all the hives. However, in light of recommendations I will reconsider several things.
   
   In consideration.. most of the feral hive entrances I know of are exposed to rain/wind/snow to a much greater extent than my hives will be, so perhaps I am trying too hard to fix a problem that does not exist. 

   As far as the entrance size.. I was only going to go that size so I could use a standard entrance reducer, but ripping them down to fit a smaller entrance, OR building the top entrances with a smaller opening will not create a worrisome amount of work when I build it. If there is no need to have an entrance that large for a top entrance then I can certainly modify the plans to suit.

   I see a lot of top covers with only two cleats on them to hold them in place. would making a top board that sits on the hive rather than slides over it be a mistake?

  Waste of time and energy. Bees don't need a landing board.

   I know, and I may try without, but its one of those things "I" like, even if the bees could care less. Feral colonies have no landing board.

   I will take these considerations into account and go back to the drawing board and see what I can come up with. Thank you, both, for taking the time to detail a reply!!!!
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rwurster
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« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2013, 11:41:36 PM »

My migratory top covers and bottom boards are made the same except for the extra strip of wood on the top cover.  It can be slid back to allow for a top entrance but lately ive been leaving a gap for a top entrance which is used during the winter time.  Another beekeeper in my area uses thicker 'strips' of wood on his tops but it's so he can fit pollen patties under the top cover for pre-almond feeding.


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Michael Bush
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« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2013, 09:04:41 AM »

I make my solid bottoms so they can double as a lid (they could anyway, but I have a reducer on them:

http://www.bushfarms.com/images/FeederBottom.jpg

But it's cheaper for me to make my own covers out of plywood for a typical hive.  I just made the bottom board feeders that way so it serves the purpose of a bottom board, a feeder and a top for a nuc under it so I can stack nucs up and still feed them without opening any boxes.
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Michael Bush
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capt44
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« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2013, 04:27:22 PM »

For the moisture build up during the winter on the inside top just add a piece of cloth (flannel) and it will wick the moisture to the side and let it run down the inside wall of the hive.
The heat from the cluster can cause condensation which the cloth on the inside top will wick off to the side.
When I add queen excluders below the supers I also add a top entrance.
During the winter I remove it and just use the vented inner cover and add the cloth to the inside of the top.
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Richard Vardaman (capt44)
OldMech
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« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2013, 11:53:29 PM »


  I guess there is a little confusion in my head..  as set up, the hives HAVE ventilation from the bottom, that can go up, and through the inner cover, and out the notch, as well as the 1/8 space I added around the rim of the cover.. without much apparent effect on the bearding.

  its been mid 90's here the last few days, and my stronger hives have 20K bees bearding the front of each of them in the evening until about 11 PM when its cooled off..

   Going to a 5/16 top opening, and completely blocking the lower entrance would seem to me to VERY greatly reduce available ventilation and make it worse?
   Yes, heat rises, and I understand as it goes out, cooler air would come in, also from the top and flow downward to replace it.... but it would seem more efficient to have a lower opening/vent, allowing the warm air to keep on going up and out while drawing the cooler air in through the lower vent/opening. Not that the air has any resemblance to cool the last few days...
 
   
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derekm
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« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2013, 05:16:59 AM »

...
   
   I understand that cold does not kill bees, moisture AND cold kills bees.. so I intended to insulate the top cover/entrance, but am not sure what effect having a 14 x 3/4 inch opening IN the top will hive.   

 ...

if the moisture is on the walls where the bees are not .... how does that kill bees?
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If they increased energy bill for your home by a factor of 4.5 would you consider that cruel? If so why are you doing that to your bees?
OldMech
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« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2013, 04:43:20 PM »

  YOU have to use a bit of common sense. The walls being damp wont hurt them, the cluster being wet will.  Yeah, I am a bit peeved off at the moment...
   I have attempted to use common sense, and apparently I have none, so cant fault anyone else.

   I put my top entrances on the two strong hives this morning. Built as recommended. 5/16 to 3/8 maximum gap at top instead of 3/4. No reducer in top. So... just over 5/16 all the way across.  I reduced the lower entrance to the smallest slot, about an inch... Which, theoretically should have allowed close to the Same ventilation that they had before the switch.. right???

   I came home about 20 min ago, and thought all was well, there was only a small cluster of bees.. but they were at the bottom of the hive, not the top where the entrance is...  I got a drink, and wandered out to look...
   Honey was dripping from the bottom of the hive... I dropped my drink, and yanked the bottom reducer out...

   I have about 30 to 40 K dead bees in both hives.. they nearly filled the bottom deep.  MAYBE ten k bees left that were smart enough to use the new top entrance. I have no idea if there is any brood left alive.. Or a queen in either.
   Cleaned the hive, replaced the bottom boards, and threw the top entrances into the pond. Maybe the rest of my hives can use them for floats.     Dont even care what went wrong at this point.  I had a bad feeling, i should have heeded it. Its why I was asking questions.
    I shouldnt have tried to help them. The bottom entrances worked fine.
   Lesson learned.
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derekm
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« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2013, 09:26:22 PM »

If wet walls don't hurt just insulate the roof...a lot . Try 3" of styrofoam.
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If they increased energy bill for your home by a factor of 4.5 would you consider that cruel? If so why are you doing that to your bees?
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« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2013, 12:37:41 AM »

  YOU have to use a bit of common sense. The walls being damp wont hurt them, the cluster being wet will.  Yeah, I am a bit peeved off at the moment...
   I have attempted to use common sense, and apparently I have none, so cant fault anyone else.

   I put my top entrances on the two strong hives this morning. Built as recommended. 5/16 to 3/8 maximum gap at top instead of 3/4. No reducer in top. So... just over 5/16 all the way across.  I reduced the lower entrance to the smallest slot, about an inch... Which, theoretically should have allowed close to the Same ventilation that they had before the switch.. right???

   I came home about 20 min ago, and thought all was well, there was only a small cluster of bees.. but they were at the bottom of the hive, not the top where the entrance is...  I got a drink, and wandered out to look...
   Honey was dripping from the bottom of the hive... I dropped my drink, and yanked the bottom reducer out...

   I have about 30 to 40 K dead bees in both hives.. they nearly filled the bottom deep.  MAYBE ten k bees left that were smart enough to use the new top entrance. I have no idea if there is any brood left alive.. Or a queen in either.
   Cleaned the hive, replaced the bottom boards, and threw the top entrances into the pond. Maybe the rest of my hives can use them for floats.     Dont even care what went wrong at this point.  I had a bad feeling, i should have heeded it. Its why I was asking questions.
    I shouldnt have tried to help them. The bottom entrances worked fine.
   Lesson learned.

I HATE to hear that! The bees bearding is what was bugging you and so you were trying to make a cooler hive because you figured they were staying outside due to the heat?
I had a hive that was bearding a lot and it was a bunch of bees that was captured when they swarmed from my original hive. There they were:  everyday a bunch of lazies just hangin' out on the front of the hive (tons of them) and the old queen inside--no doubt stewing that we had captured her and slapped them back into some boxes and frames. We even named her "Margaret Thatcher". Then the beard of bees seemed to be a lot less than what we were used to seeing! Well now we call her "Margaret the Swamp Queen" because she AGAIN swarmed from her second house and left us another daughter.. Not long after that, we found a hive at the hollow base of a tree nearby (in a swampy area) that wasn't there before Margaret and more of her crew went missing.
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« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2013, 07:28:19 PM »

Aye.. thats exactly what I wanted, unfortunately it didnt work.. I should have left the full lower entrance open instead of reducing it.. I should have done a lot of things differently, first and foremost leaving them alone and let them handle the situation.. I guess it never occurred to me that they would not use the top entrance..  didnt know it was there???

   I combined the bees, and after establishing the new queen...   against my better judgement gave them a full frame of brood from two other hives trying to salvage one hive.
  They arent doing badly.   They cleaned the frames of dead brood, the new queen started over. they have new brood and are bringing in pollen.. lots of wildflowers and goldenrod.. they have fully drawn foundation to run with.. so crossing my fingers.
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« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2013, 09:55:29 PM »

It would take the bees that were used to the bottom entrance to go ahead and live out their life cycle (that is, die naturally) and just introduce the top entrance but leave that bottom one the same as it was so that those bees that "grew up" using the bottom will continue to do so. We had to catch a swarm once and all we had to put them in was a 10-frame deep--no top, no bottom. So we had to quickly rig a bottom using #8 wire and roofing tacks on the bottom of that deep and the top was just a flat board. We just left the board slightly cattywhompus to leave an open corner for the bees to use.

Those dummies were still looking for that "open" corner weeks after we put on a proper bottom, extra deep, and an outer cover! They would have to land on the corner where there used to be that make-shift entrance and then crawl down to their "new" doorway. I think that the ones that were used to the corner never did get used to the regular entrance. Instead the new hatch-off bees grew up using the bottom board entrance.
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« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2013, 01:12:05 AM »

OldMech,
 I'm not sure that I understand what happened to cause the loss of so much population. Heat buildup basically cooking the bees, lack of oxygen?
I'm in South Carolina and no stranger to heat. I don't have top ventilation and keep the entrances reduced all the time. The bees seem to do quite well. What went wrong? It would make sense that top entrances would allow more heat to escape. What am I missing?
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« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2013, 10:07:48 AM »

I dont know RHBee..
   I can only guess that they crowded the small lower entrance and blocked it off. They needed to get out (beard) and fan to cool the hive as the temps climbed to over 95 degrees..  The hives are in full sun until afternoon around 6 PM when the small pines they sit in front of start shading them..   and found that they couldn't get out so the mass of bees in the bottom overheated?Huh
   I have had sticky bees from overheating when transporting in my beevac over an hour from home (wont do that again either) and that is exactly what they looked like.. very sticky MESS in the bottom of the hive.

   Beyond that guess, I wouldnt have any other idea. I have considered it a LOT since it happened. An SBB would have helped, a LOT of things would have helped, If I had taken the time to consider. Not understanding they wouldnt instantly adapt to the top entrance is my failure. The only good thing to come of it is that I wont forget, it hurt to realize my own stupidity, and it will make me consider anything else I do with  greater concern and care.
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39 Hives and growing.  Havent found the end of the comfort zone yet.
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