Switching to top entrances

Basic beekeeping, this is beekeeping after the first winter until about the third or fourth year. You are a beekeeper, but you still have a lot to learn. Talk about normal everyday beekeeping here.
BigNotEasyGuy
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Switching to top entrances

Postby BigNotEasyGuy » Sat Sep 02, 2017 4:51 pm

I have been wanting to switch to top entrances on my 2 hives before winter. Right now I have bottom boards with a landing area, and top telescoping covers covered in metal and a wood inner cover. I have read MIchael Bush's discussions on top entrances but I'm a little confused on what to do next with my hives just because I thought my metal covered telescoping covers were helping with keeping moisture out, but maybe I'm over thinking it?

Here's what I think I should do next:

1) get some 3/4" plywood and a pack of pine shims. Build two covers with the plywood, glue and staple on shims.
2) remove telescoping cover
3) remove inner cover? <-I'm worried if this is correct?
4) put new plywood top covers on (no metal, no water protection)
5) wait a week and then reduce bottom entrances
6) wait a week and replace bottom boards with flat plywood bottoms
7) wait until temperature starts dropping and reduce top entrance?

Did I miss anything or do something wrong?

Thanks!

moebees
Backyard Beekeeper
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Location: Illinois

Re: Switching to top entrances

Postby moebees » Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:15 pm

I thought my metal covered telescoping covers were helping with keeping moisture out, but maybe I'm over thinking it?

It does but the moisture problem in winter comes from inside the hive. The moisture from the bees rises with warm air and condenses when it hits the cool top of the hive. That is why many people put a piece of foam board insulation on top of their Langstroths in winter to keep the inner cover warmer.

What you are describing is the MB method of top entrances but there are many other ways to do it. If I was already using inner covers and telescoping covers I would not get rid of them to change to the MB method. He has migratory covers because he slides all his hives together in winter.
You can do what you want but if it were me I would not change now this late in the season and not change to a lesser cover than what you have now. I don't see the purpose. If you have a notched inner, and make one if you don't, turn it notch up for winter, get a moisture board from Mann Lake and put on, then the telescoping cover and a piece of foam insulation board on top of that. That makes a really good winter system. Then over the winter decide how you want to do your top entrance and start in the spring. Like I said, that's just the way I would approach it but maybe you have some reason you want to go to top entrances now and want to get rid of perfectly good equipment you already have.
Sam Droege, a biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey—“bees are not optional."

BigNotEasyGuy
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Joined: Sat Aug 26, 2017 4:19 pm
Location: Denver, CO

Re: Switching to top entrances

Postby BigNotEasyGuy » Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:50 pm

That sounds good, I always wonder what seasons I can and can't make changes. I'm fine to wait until next year.

The motivation to switch to tops is to prevent mice, we have a lot out here. I haven't found one in a hive yet, but over winter I'm worried they'll crawl in the bottoms. I have seen other people post that they put screen up on the bottom entrance, but I've never done that. I suppose I could winterize like you describe and then put in a screen on the bottom entrances to prevent mice?

I don't have a notched inner cover, should I notch it with my sawzall and put it back on this spring? (I assume turning it up for winter is just blocking it so notching now isn't necessary?)

Thanks!

moebees
Backyard Beekeeper
Posts: 342
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2016 7:57 pm
Location: Illinois

Re: Switching to top entrances

Postby moebees » Sat Sep 02, 2017 7:05 pm

The motivation to switch to tops is to prevent mice, we have a lot out here. I haven't found one in a hive yet, but over winter I'm worried they'll crawl in the bottoms. I have seen other people post that they put screen up on the bottom entrance, but I've never done that. I suppose I could winterize like you describe and then put in a screen on the bottom entrances to prevent mice?

I don't have a notched inner cover, should I notch it with my sawzall and put it back on this spring? (I assume turning it up for winter is just blocking it so notching now isn't necessary?)


Reduce the entrance to where mice can't get in. Use screen if necessary. You want the notch in the inner cover for winter ventilation so notch them now. Have the notch up, then moisture board, than telescoping cover, then foam board insulation. You'll need straps around them or a heavy weight to keep the insulation on. But the notch is where the moist air can escape.
Sam Droege, a biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey—“bees are not optional."

moebees
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Location: Illinois

Re: Switching to top entrances

Postby moebees » Sat Sep 02, 2017 7:07 pm

I assume your inner cover has a hole in the center.
Sam Droege, a biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey—“bees are not optional."

BigNotEasyGuy
Freshman Beekeeper
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Aug 26, 2017 4:19 pm
Location: Denver, CO

Re: Switching to top entrances

Postby BigNotEasyGuy » Sat Sep 02, 2017 8:28 pm

Yep, an oval hole in the center. :)

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Michael Bush
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Re: Switching to top entrances

Postby Michael Bush » Wed Sep 06, 2017 4:03 pm

When you make the change over make sure the nights are going to be 50 F or above so the "slow" ones have some time to figure things out and don't get caught out in the cold.
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

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Greg H
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Re: Switching to top entrances

Postby Greg H » Wed Oct 25, 2017 9:41 pm

Here is a related question. If you switch to top entrances to let warm, moist air out, do you need to leave another opening somewhere to let cool dry air in?

moebees
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Re: Switching to top entrances

Postby moebees » Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:30 am

Here is a related question. If you switch to top entrances to let warm, moist air out, do you need to leave another opening somewhere to let cool dry air in?


I do although I don't know if it is essential. I have a bottom entrance that is open but greatly reduced. I am also using polystyrene hives which supposedly can have moisture problems (this is my first year using them). Both polystyrene hive designs I use have ventilation openings in the bottom board which I have closed off year all year. So If I didn't have a bottom entrance I might get in trouble. Heck this is my first winter using them so I might get in trouble anyway but I have an upper opening, moisture board, and extra insulation on the top. I think they will be ok.
Sam Droege, a biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey—“bees are not optional."

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GregV
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Re: Switching to top entrances

Postby GregV » Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:22 pm

For sure top entrances are fine for moisture to dissipate.
But be aware top entrances will cost you extra in terms energy losses (same as required honey weight to over-winter).
If you don't care, it is fine. If you do care - consider alternatives.

I observe how people in much more brutal conditions (read Siberia) winter on about 50% of the stores compared to what I observe in the US.
Typical wintering in the US (with much milder conditions) takes so much honey - the waste is mind boggling (well, to be fare this is cheap sugar for the most people and so a different topic, but I digress regardless ...)

I don't so top entrances, but only bottom entrances (but I don't do Langs either).
I do have supplemental bottom ventilation slots and have them open year around (I do mean them open for the winter especially).
NucWintering.jpg
NucWintering.jpg (86.46 KiB) Viewed 86 times

VentilationBottom.jpg
VentilationBottom.jpg (32.59 KiB) Viewed 86 times


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