Last winter I read a lot about top entrances on beesource. If any one has seen my earlier posts they are probably aware that some of my hive sites are prone to high grass. I am always looking for ways to work with nature as opposed to fighting it all the time. I view cutting grass as fighting nature as well as a HUGE waste of time and gasoline. Allowing the bees to do their work without mowing and weed eating is a goal of mine.
As with a lot of things I “read”, I feel the need to try them on a small scale prior to just diving right in. In February I made 10 top entrances for evaluation. The construction was quite easy. Materials consisted of 1 sheet of 3/4 inch plywood and some shims from Menards. They were made so they could be used with the current telescoping covers already present on all of the hives. The goal was to create a 5/16″ bee space at the front of each hive.
The entrances were placed at random so it is not as though I was expecting anything more from the hives that received them. Amazingly at least initially I am getting substantially more from the hives that are sporting these contraptions. I have been checking on some hives in my normal fashion over the last couple of days. The telescoping cover and inner cover is removed and the top super is viewed. That’s it.
One colony at hive site 5 (HS5) (1111) has drawn out 10 shallow frames completely in just 8 days. This was done on foundation as I have not had good luck with honey supers getting drawn nicely on foundationless frames (YET!!). I pulled one of the frames from the center and each cell was roughly 3/4 full on Sunday 5/19. The hive right next to it (1110) started out the spring in approximately the same condition had not even begun to draw out the foundation. It had a traditional inner cover in place. Perhaps it could just be the colony…
If it were not for a similar result at hive site 3 (HS3) I would have written it off as a fluke. I have the exact same setup except there are two supers on the hives at HS3. Top entrance right next to a hive of similar strength with a traditional inner cover. Both came through the winter weighing substantially more than those at HS5. Again the colony with the top entrance (1104) is progressing faster than (1107) the colony right next it with a traditional inner cover.
I am not saying everyone should go out and put top entrances on everything they have. I don’t know if there will be a bad side to this revealed later this summer. I am inclined to think that there is some difference at this stage. I will keep you posted as the summer progresses. If anyone is interested I can do a more in depth page on how I made these entrances. Just let me know.
What do you think? Have you used top entrances? What are the pro’s and cons?