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Entrance quandary

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House Bee

Joined: 31 Jul 2014
Posts: 20
Location: Flitwick Bedfordshire UK

PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:40 am    Post subject: Entrance quandary Reply with quote

I am undecided; hive end or multiple side holes, low or high level with periscope entrances. One or two post allude to issues with the central side entrances can anybody expand on this for me.
High/low level entrances have been spoken about with regards to high level being difficult for house cleaning tasks; any thought or experiences would be welcome.
Just a thought, using 18mm follower boards centre mounted on 38mm TB’s gives a bee space of approx. 14-16mm are there any issues with this, I guess I could offset the follower or rip down the TB giving a nominal 8mm bee space, any thoughts.
Sorry if these are old subjects.
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Site Admin

Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1857
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would steer away from central side entrances. Problems can occur when the bees develop their brood nest in the centre and then place honey stores either side of it. Normally in a hive, the broodnest is nearest the entrance and the bees back fill it with honey at this time of year. They then slowly eat their way through the broodnest stores and into the proper honey stores during the winter. In a centre entrance hive, the cluster will slowly move in one direction comsuming the stores as they go. If it is mid winter when they get to one end, it can be too cold for the cluster to move back over all the empty combs to get to the honey at the other end and they starve, with honey only a foot or so away. Therefore the beekeeper needs to rearrange the stores, so that they are all to one side of the brood nest. Honey combs come in varying widths and are not always straight, so spacer bars may be needed to fit them in at the other side. This will create less uniform wider in places gaps between the combs which may also effect the thermal regulation during the winter.

After that it is really a question of personal preference. I would not go for top entrances in the UK unless it is fitted with a periscope, which effectively then makes it a bottom entrance. I have vertical face low end entrances with an internal follower with holes drilled in the top, effectively creating the periscope within the hive, but plenty of people have success with side end entrances. Take your pick or do one of each and see which you like best.



PS. As regards the width of your follower boards, I'm not sure how you get 14-16mm "bee space" 38-18=20. If they are centred, then surely you have 10mm each side but it depends on the width of the comb they build on the adjacent bar. If it is at the honey end, they may just build the comb out to meet the follower and/or they may build brace comb onto it. The best way to prevent that is to make sure they have an empty bar between it and the last comb during the expansion season. Once they have stopped building comb and are back filling the nest, then you can take the last empty bar out and move the follower up to the last honey comb.
Hope that helps.
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Silver Bee

Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Tue Sep 09, 2014 11:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is all to do with preference I am afraid, not helpful I know but at least you know you can't do anything "wrong" per se.

I would tentatively disagree a little with Barbara about the middle entrances. What she says is right but only somethings. I found a middle entrance VERY useful as a newbee. It meant that I could more easily view each end of the colony without disturbing the bees. With a end entrance you are forced to open up next to, or over the entrance to look at that end. The middle entrance means that for most quick looks no movement of bars are required and guard bees at the entrance are not disturbed. The way you avoid the problem Barbara describes is to offset where you start the bees so the entrance is more towards one side of the cavity created by the followerboards. Then only feed in new bars on one side. When you get near the end you are then forced to move all the bars back along the hive. This is called by some a 'mid-season shift' by some people and is usually when the brood nest is at it's largest. There is some danger that as the brood nest shrinks they place honey each side but I have found (albeit with only 3 colonies over two years) that they favour one side for the honey. The biggest disadvantage to middle entrances is it is less space efficient. End entrances make the most of the space available and allow you to have colonies in both ends should you choose to for splitting purposes.

What I will say is always drill more holes than you think you need. ie if you think you want middle entrances, drill some at each end anyway, and on each side too. If you don't use them they can stay corked. If you need them they're there. You don't want to be in a situation where you think you might like to add colony to one end and have to drill big holes whilst bees are in residence.
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House Bee

Joined: 17 Jan 2014
Posts: 11
Location: Norfolk

PostPosted: Tue Sep 09, 2014 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It sounds unbelievable I know, but I have been drilling / modding my hive all summer and the bees could not give a toss. Last time I drilled a 1" hole into the center of the hive ( through 2" pine) and I did not even get bumped once...

I would think you could change your mind later without problems so I wouldn't get too hung up on it! personally I have used a side entrance 30cm from the end and it has worked well, although it does reduce the overall size of the hive having space and a follower on each end. I'll be trying an end entrance near the top ( cold ways) on my next venture, remember part of the fun of the TBH is to experiment and see what the bees in your local area make of it , you can always change it later if it looks problematic!!
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House Bee

Joined: 31 Jul 2014
Posts: 20
Location: Flitwick Bedfordshire UK

PostPosted: Tue Sep 09, 2014 8:11 pm    Post subject: Entrance quandary Reply with quote

Hi AugustC and maskerade.
My intention is to go with high periscope, side entrances front and back with three 22mm holes, giving access to the first three combs. But the flexible nature of the HTBH means alls not lost should it not work for some reason, just lots of corks sticking out all over the place. AugustC I thought your timber looked like wood block worktop, should be stable being engineered wood, no special offers at the moment. Back to the saw dust creation, 15 followers, 120 top-bars, 3 sides and source some toughened glass, it's proving to be quite a project, but fun.
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