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Friday, March 22, 2013

Upper Entrances and Inner Covers and French Kissing Bees…

I’ve been reading a lot about entrances, there are of course many views on where it should be placed.  Some say bottom only, some say top only, some say both!  From a bees stand point I’m not sure that they even know what they prefer, the ones in my TBH were a testament to that.  The hive had holes along the top that were supposed to be for ventilation and holes along the bottom that were supposed to be for the entrances. (I use plural because my hive is designed so that you could potentially have two colonies in one hive.)  Well, the girls decided that they liked a top entrance better and chewed through the mesh to gain access at the top and that was the entrance that they use the most, well sort of.  They also located and removed a spot in a knot on the front of the hive and were entering through that (at the top) and when the window bowed they used that as an entrance as well! Let’s not forget that some were using the original bottom entrance too. So what did I learn from all of that?  Nothing concrete that’s for sure, it seems that given an entrance or the opportunity for an entrance they will use whatever is available. 
From my view point I know I don't want the entrance on the front of the hive, I know that I don’t want mice, skunks or raccoons to be an issue and I don’t want dead bees or deep snow (if it ever snows here again) to be an issue either.  So what does that leave me with?  A reduced bottom entrance and a custom made double screened (and solid) inner cover and telescoping top.
Let’s start with the screened cover.
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Now I don’t know how true things are that are written about bee behavior and I’m certainly not saying that the person who said this is wrong or right.  We liked the design of this, we liked that it was sturdier than some of the other ones we’d seen and we wanted to make sure that ventilation wasn’t an issue in the hive when the humidity is at it’s peak.  Now if this design stops the French kissing and discourages robbing that’s even better.  What?  You didn’t know bees French kiss?  Yeah, neither did we!  Supposedly, some of our devious little girls when given the chance will head off to a hive with a screened inner cover  offer the occupants some nectar from their tongue to gain trust and acceptance.  Once they’ve established a friendship with the bees in the hive, it opens it up to robbing. Since this screened cover has 2 layers of screen it stops the tongues from meeting.  Hmmm… I’ll leave it at that.
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The other reason was this, a nice opening for an upper entrance and to make sure that it doesn’t get blocked ever by a hasty top replacement we notched the telescoping cover too.
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We are going to use the same frame design and notch location to make a solid inner cover that will replace the screen in the winter so that in the event of snow, or a build up of dead bees in the winter the bottom, the bees aren’t blocked in.
I guess like us, honey bees like to have more than one door in their house and apparently like kissing too!

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