Development of Ideas and Working Benefits

The entrance size is critical for colony health, defence and pest management.

All the information of hive management and improving bee health fail to identify the issues regarding a nest (hive) entrance that is too large. 


  • As we implemented the idea on five colonies following the spring loss of foragers, more benefits came to light and we soon concluded that the design of the Langstroth floor/entrance was problematic:


● It directs all bee movements through the already congested brood box;

● The entrance is indefensible; and

● Its size is hard for the beekeeper to manage.


After another season (2019) of observations and video clips the benefits to both bees and    beekeepers were numerous and include:


● Easier for the colony to defend against wasps, moths, Varroa and rodents, with wasps being totally

   excluded in our trials;

  • First line of defence in an IPM approach for honey bees to monitor the hive entrance;

● Decreased aggression/defensive behaviour (a characteristic described by Wedmore when using

   middle entrances);

● Easier hive ventilation without having to open the hives to check roof meshes and clean; 


Honey bees have evolved strategies to closely regulate the internal environment of their nest cavities through heating, cooling, and ventilation more often than not through very small best openings.


● Makes ‘Cold Way’ Warm (Sword and Shield) with all its benefits for the storage of pollen and honey;

● Exit for drones above the queen excluder;

● Improved uniting and potential maintenance of two queen colonies;

● Increased hive volume without loss of foraging efficiency;

● Improved use of brood comb for laying given improved; thermoregulatory effect;

● Simple method to ‘bank’, mate and develop several queens in one colony;

● Vastly simpler method of making an increase without the need to add a work force and

   transferring frames;

● Simple method to close hives for transportation, to keep colonies in or while applying treatments.


       However, above all, the system is retrofit, inexpensive, fool proof and quick to install

A view of adapted entrances in the second brood box of a bee hive. There is no traditional wide entrance at the bottom of the hive.
A view of adapted entrances in the second brood box of a bee hive. There is no traditional wide entrance at the bottom of the hive.

BEEHIVE, MULTIPLE ENTRANCES, WASPS THAT CANNOT ENTER

Increased honey production and pollination

Up to 80kg (170lbs) of honey per hive

A bee hive with multiple entrances, optimised with the intrances, during the peak honey flow

There are numerous references to improved foraging, deposit and storage of honey with multiple entrances. 


  • There is a good article from Rusty (HoneyBeeSuite) on the subject of additional entrances.
  • There is some further reading here  by Michael Bush.
  •  Tautz (1996) reported that the nature of the floor on which the bees dance has considerable influence on the recruitment of nestmates to a food source. Dancers on combs with open empty cells (supers) recruit three times as many nestmates to a food source as dancers on capped BROOD cells. 

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

Four honey bee queen colony

  "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." 

Reasons for top entrances supplementing smaller bottom entrances

Foraging honey bee

You can keep bees fine without higher entrances, but they do eliminate the following problems: 

  • mice and other rodents; 
  • cluster to far removed from entrance; 
  • dead bees blocking the exit in winter;
  • condensation on the lid in winter, snow ;
  • blocking the exit in winter; 
  • grass blocking the exit the rest of the year; 
  • It also allows you to buy inexpensive floors as well as decrease hive costs.


THE MOST IMPORTANT REASON FOR A HIGHER ENTRANCE IS THAT IT IS CLOSER TO THE WINTER CLUSTER, THEREBY:

  1. ALLOWING FOR EARLIER CLEANSING FLIGHTS;
  2. IDENTIFYING COLONIES THAT MAY HAVE DEVELOPED A PROBLEM OVER THE WINTER;
  3. IMPROVING COLONY HEALTH IN THE SPRING BY ALLOWING FRESH NUTRIENTS TO BE DEPOSITED CLOSE TO THE DEVELOPING BROOD NEST

Further Benefits

Honey Bee Swarm on a tree

Swarming

Contact rates have been shown to regulate the allocation of workers among tasks in colonies of harvester ants (Pinter-Wollmanetal. 2013), and honeybees (Seeley1989). An increased number of workers in a colony, which may increase the worker contact rate, may also be a stimulus for swarming, the female mode of reproduction in honeybees (reviewed by Grozinger et al. 2013). But it remains unknown whether contact rates are used to assess the number of workers in a colony, and it is entirely possible that workers regulate their contact rates (Gordon et al. 1993) rather than being regulated by them.

Guarding Behaviour and Strengthening of Colony Odour

Examination by guards at the honey bee entrance of definite intruders may last for a few seconds only and may then be immediately followed by mauling; on the other hand, very often a number of guard bees will each, singly or together, examine an intruder for half-a-minute or more and leave her without attempting to maul her. It appears that in the latter cases the guards are uncertain of the identity of the intruders.


This conclusion regarding the importance of scent in the recognition by

bees of members of their own and other colonies is strengthened by the

observations of KALMUS and RIBBANDS (1952) who showed in experiments

with foraging bees that the bees of every colony have their own distinctive odour and that foraging bees recognise and prefer the scent produced by members of their own colony.

Foraging Honey Bee gathering nectar

Controlled Entrances

Controlling entrance size and varying entrance locations not only strengthens colony odour but also reduces in-hive contact. This improves colony defence, decreases external guarding behaviour and reduces colony stress levels, particularly in smaller colonies.