BEE HIVES & ENTRANCES

HONEY BEE PREFERENCES AND HIVE CONFIGURATIONS

Honey bees are constrained to a pattern of work by the modern hive with all the colony activity occurring in the brood box. Improved methodologies, understanding and controlled use of entrances will ultimately improve colony health.

Honey bees prefer entrances towards the bottom third of the cavity although if a higher entrance is available they will use it with increased frequency during the summer (Seeley 1985). Depending on weather conditions, honey bees will close up any small holes and seal the cavity surface with plant resins of low water vapour permeability (i.e. propolis) (Seeley 1985). Honeybees gain thermal advantage in cool climates by constructing their wax combs from the top of the cavity (bee hive) downwards, retreating upwards when they need to conserve heat (Owens 1971) (Apis mellifera ligustica) and expanding downwards as the colony grows and increases its heat and honey production (Crane 1990, p. 90).

Elishia Gallup, The American Bee Journal 1867, Volume 3, Number 8 pg 153

  "Again if you see a box hive with a crack in it from top to bottom large enough to put your fingers in, the bees are all right in nine cases out of ten. The conclusion I have come to is this, that with upward ventilation without any current of air from the bottom of the hive, your bees will winter well without any cobs."

Having identified the benefits my hives are now all using solid floors and no standard or traditional entrance.

One of my development hives similar to those pictured on this page won a Silver Medal at the National Honey Show in October 2019.

Any floor or base can be used, with my preference being a simple flat board. I use a screened/or mesh floor on colonies I would like to evaluate for varroa.

UD HIVE CONFIGURATIONS

Starter Kit

This kit includes sufficient pieces to build what we describe as the 'traditional' configuration. 

This is 3 entrances in the bottom brood box and an extra entrance to be placed above, in the second box (brood box or super).

Add-on Kit

The extra entrances provide a mechanism to enhance hive dynamics, allowing for a more natural nest structure, easier access to supers and decreased swarming impulses due to decreased congestion of the brood area.

Further Arrangements

Hives can be adapted in many ways with the benefit that each intrance is easy to guard.

There is no need to use a shim for an extra entrance and intrances can be opened and closed as required making splits or divisions easier to manipulate.

The use of a floor is simplified with no need to modify, replace or adapt entrance cleats.

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© 2020 by Filipe Salbany.