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Author Topic: Having second thoughts on top entrances  (Read 1006 times)

Offline Duane

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Having second thoughts on top entrances
« on: July 12, 2015, 08:49:47 PM »
I really liked the idea of top entrances, it made so much sense, and maybe I thought it would solve all the world's problems.  But.....

The advantages of top entrances if I remember them all:
Top ventilation with no mold, and with solid bottom, hive stays cooler.
Less problems with weeds, snow, and dead bees blocking entrance.
Less problems with mice and skunks.

Now that I've had the chance of using them, I didn't really mind as one described it, a tornado of bees when working them.  As some have said, just standing there causes a bunch of bees flying around.  But what bothers me is the bees going over the edge when you have more than one box.  I smoke them out of the way but before I can get the box back on, they are all over it.  The twisting movement only shears several heads.  And what I thought would make the bees cooler and not hang on the outside didn't seem to work out.  Curtains of bees hanging from the roof overhang, seeming to me blocking the ventilation I thought would keep them cooler.  Who knows, maybe there'd be more outside if it was a bottom entrance.  But my past hive didn't seem to have any more outside.  And I thought they were to bring in water and cool the inside.  Guess 90+ degrees is too much.  What if you really needed to get in and work them?  What do you do with a foot of bees hanging off the roof?  Sometimes I see them still hanging there early in the morning.  I thought they were a little cramped for room and added the second box, but now it's turned hot again, there are still a lot of bees hanging outside.  I guess I could not let the roof overhang, but thought that would prevent rain coming in. 

Unless someone can tell me how to deal with this or suggest an alternative (middle entrance solve anything?), I'm considering using bottom entrances.  But maybe going to top entrance for winter.

What I would be swapping by not having top entrances during the summer portion:
Weed problem at the entrance.
Maybe harder for them to evaporate the honey.
Skunk problem.  But if the bees are on the outside, it's just a matter of slurping them up anyway.


Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Having second thoughts on top entrances
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2015, 08:36:09 AM »
>But what bothers me is the bees going over the edge when you have more than one box.

They do this no matter where the entrance is.

>  I smoke them out of the way but before I can get the box back on, they are all over it.  The twisting movement only shears several heads.  And what I thought would make the bees cooler and not hang on the outside didn't seem to work out.  Curtains of bees hanging from the roof overhang, seeming to me blocking the ventilation I thought would keep them cooler.  Who knows, maybe there'd be more outside if it was a bottom entrance.  But my past hive didn't seem to have any more outside.  And I thought they were to bring in water and cool the inside.  Guess 90+ degrees is too much.  What if you really needed to get in and work them?  What do you do with a foot of bees hanging off the roof?

True the beard may be somewhere different, but generally when you start working the hive the beard dissipates.  When you get to the bottom box you'd have the same issue with a bottom entrance.

>  Sometimes I see them still hanging there early in the morning.  I thought they were a little cramped for room and added the second box, but now it's turned hot again, there are still a lot of bees hanging outside.  I guess I could not let the roof overhang, but thought that would prevent rain coming in. 

You really shouldn't work any hive in the heat.  Combs collapse.  Brood gets overheated.  Not a good plan unless you have no other choice (queen rearing comes to mind)...
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Offline AR Beekeeper

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Re: Having second thoughts on top entrances
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2015, 12:04:46 PM »
When I tried top entrances I also found them to be more of a nuisance than they were worth.  Each beekeeper should try for themselves each recommended hive configuration or management philosophy, evaluate the results, and then go with the ones that best meets their needs.  In beekeeping one size does not fit all.  Different locations and strains of bees can often make a great difference in the results obtained.   

Offline Duane

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Re: Having second thoughts on top entrances
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2016, 06:07:36 PM »
I don't think I had noticed before, but an additional thing I've observed with top entrances is how robbing is handled.  With bottom entrances, I saw the robbing bees land, other bees grab their legs, but the robbing bee still trying to get into the hive.  With top entrances, when the bees grab the robbing bees legs, they usually fall to the ground.

Offline Rurification

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Re: Having second thoughts on top entrances
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2016, 08:41:00 AM »
I went to bottom boards that have no landing boards - The boxes fit just right over the bottom board.   Small entrances just like the uppers.   I bent a 3x3 inch piece of window screen into a curve and put that over the entrance for a robbing screen held on by thumb tacks.   It's low tech and working very well.   If I can find one that's 4inches long that'd be a bit better, but it's surprising how much the one I have slows the robbers down.
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Offline jimineycricket

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Re: Having second thoughts on top entrances
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2016, 10:51:13 AM »
Quote
The boxes fit just right over the bottom board.   Small entrances just like the uppers.   I bent a 3x3 inch piece of window screen into a curve and put that over the entrance for a robbing screen held on by thumb tacks

Is the complete with of your hive bottom open (3/4" x 16"), and only a 3" width covered with the screen?
jimmy

Offline Rurification

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Re: Having second thoughts on top entrances
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2016, 03:01:44 PM »
No - only a small opening just off center, just like the smaller openings in inner covers [at least all the ones I've ever seen.] One inch or so.
Robin Edmundson
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Offline yes2matt

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Re: Having second thoughts on top entrances
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2016, 04:24:48 PM »
So do you just put a screened inner cover upside down on the bottom? Or a plain piece of plywood ?  I've thought to try top entrances but not sure how to execute it with the gear I have on hand or can make easily. What does the very top look like? Another flat piece of plywood? Do you give them a landing board?

Offline cao

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Re: Having second thoughts on top entrances
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2016, 08:58:09 PM »
So do you just put a screened inner cover upside down on the bottom? Or a plain piece of plywood ?  I've thought to try top entrances but not sure how to execute it with the gear I have on hand or can make easily. What does the very top look like? Another flat piece of plywood? Do you give them a landing board?
I think the easiest way to get a top entrance is just prop the lid and close the bottom entrance.

Offline Rurification

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Re: Having second thoughts on top entrances
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2016, 09:53:34 AM »
I have a telescoping cover on the very top - or a piece of board that overhangs.    You can put a screened inner cover on the bottom - I've done that, but our bees like a solid bottom board better, so I only use a screened one when I don't have a solid.    This is how I overwintered [from top to bottom]

telescoping cover
inner cover with notch opening down and open to quilt box.
3 inch quilt box shim with screened bottom full of cedar shavings AND construction shim/wedges on top on one end for good ventilation between it and the inner cover.   That tilted the lids a bit, but no problem.
2 inch shim for winter sugar
medium super with honey
deep super with brood
solid bottom board with lower entrance only

I do not use a landing board of any kind.  They don't need it.
Robin Edmundson
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Offline jimineycricket

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Re: Having second thoughts on top entrances
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2016, 11:30:36 AM »
Quote
2 inch shim for winter sugar
medium super with honey
Was the medium super enough honey at your location or did/will they need some of the sugar?

I am watching your posts as I think your climate is similar to mine. 
jimmy

Offline Oblio13

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Re: Having second thoughts on top entrances
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2016, 12:45:56 PM »
Most of my hives have top and bottom entrances. When it's hot and a hive is booming, they're both wide open. In the winter, they're both closed way down.

I made most of my bottom boards from thick old cedar boards. The fronts are cut at a 45-degree angle as a landing board. I think it helps when bees come back from foraging like overloaded helicopters trying to do crosswind landings. The entrances have permanent mouse-guards in the form of a row of small nails spaced a half-inch apart.

I mostly use "transport covers", just simple lids raised a quarter inch at the front for the upper entrance. In the winter, I put a standard inner cover on, upside-down. That gives the bees a small hole. I cover the oval hole in the top of the inner cover with a piece of screen and then a piece of canvas. I add another hive body and fill it with leaves or wood-shavings as a Warre-style "quilt box". Then I put the transport cover back on. That allows the quilt box to vent the moisture it accumulates. This system has worked very well for me.

Offline Rurification

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Re: Having second thoughts on top entrances
« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2016, 01:30:14 PM »
Quote
2 inch shim for winter sugar
medium super with honey
Was the medium super enough honey at your location or did/will they need some of the sugar?

I am watching your posts as I think your climate is similar to mine.

Jiminey-  It was more than enough.  The cluster was tiny but they made it through the winter by going straight up through one corner of the medium and on up to the sugar.   They didn't touch most of the honey, but if there hadn't been sugar on top, they'd have starved because they wouldn't have been able to break cluster to go to new feed.  Just not enough bees.     That's why I do both honey and sugar.   I had no idea the cluster was going to get that small over the winter, but .... that's the thing.  You just never know.
Robin Edmundson
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Offline Duane

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Re: Having second thoughts on top entrances
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2016, 03:06:16 PM »
I didn't notice it before, but this year I see some of the bees having trouble with no landing board at the top entrance.  Maybe too many bees at one area.  I recently widened the entrance to the full width, but they still only go to the one portion so far.  They seem to run into each other and fall down.  Since I've been having trouble coming up with a decent solution for cutting handles, I wondered if just slapping on a 1x2 across the front and back an inch below the edge on new boxes would allow for a landing area?