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  • Reducing hive entrance

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General Q&A, Bee chat and only Bee chat please
 #4927  by Beehive_yourself
 03 Oct 2019, 12:14

I have fitted a mouse guard to the entrance of my hive - do I reduce the number of holes or them all open? I don't want to give them too much space and let the cold get in, or give them too little and they overheat.

The colony is in a national hive with about 4/5 frames of sustenance in to help them get through winter. I will very likely be feeding them as well (by the way, this is an inherited hive, I haven't been greedy and stolen all their honey for myself - in fact, I've had nothing from them).

 #4928  by Patrick
 03 Oct 2019, 13:32

So assuming the mouse guard is the metal strip with holes in type, it should be fine leaving all the holes open. Do you have an entrance block with your inherited hive? If you do, you can rotate and refit it and it gives you a reduced entrance. Just ensure the holes in your metal strip line up with the reduced entrance gap otherwise only a few holes can become blocked by dead bees over winter.

Does your hive come with a solid floor or open mesh. Either is fine, but entrance ventilation is obviously less important with open mesh.

And finally, 4 or 5 frames of stores will indeed require supplemental feeding to get them through winter. I see you are in the South West like me, so may get an early spring or...wet and cold! You may find feeding syrup is less successfully taken down depending on the weather and your feeders and providing a block of bakers fondant in a plastic bag over the crownboard feed hole ( or a homemade sugar block - see the seperate thread by Chris Barlow for that) is more usable this time of year.

Plenty of advice if you need it from others on here too .
 #4930  by Chrisbarlow
 03 Oct 2019, 15:12
Are your bees still getting pestered by wasps? If so, minimise to help the bees out.
 #4931  by Beehive_yourself
 03 Oct 2019, 15:45
@Chris - Thanks for reply and no, fortunately, the wasps have left the bees alone for now. Despite being next to an apple tree the wasp traps have been empty and I haven't seen many/any around the hive.

@Patrick - Thanks for that detailed answer. I have a poly hive that I transferred the bees to as the inherited one was a little ropey - so I shall try and bring that one back to life over the winter months. The poly hive has a mesh floor. I have removed the entrance reducer as it seemed to jut out (even when I tried to reverse it) and make the mouse guard protrude.

So, I have installed the mouse guard, left the holes all open and left a ventilation hole open in the crown board. On the other hole on the crown board I have the sugar feeder. I'll monitor how that goes down - if it seems to slow then I'll move on to the fondant. Fingers crossed I still have some bees come spring :|
 #4932  by NigelP
 03 Oct 2019, 21:45
Beehive_yourself wrote:
03 Oct 2019, 15:45
and left a ventilation hole open in the crown board. On the other hole on the crown board I have the sugar feeder.
Current wisdom is not to leave any holes in crown board as you are leaving your bees in chimney of cold air all winter. Open mesh floor itself has dubious virtues here as well.
If it's any use all my hive are poly ,. no gaps in crown board and inserts (from open mesh floors) left in all winter. No mouse guards (2 mice in 200+ hive winters).
Bees usually survive regardless of how you set up their over wintering...the real question is how well have they survive come spring.
 #4933  by Chrisbarlow
 03 Oct 2019, 22:09
I am a big believer in mouse guards. I have lost a box to mice in the past and this year alone I have found 3 mice nests on top of crown boards. These have been boxes out in fields.
 #4937  by Beehive_yourself
 04 Oct 2019, 11:38
Well, the mouseguard is already in place, so I guess it can do no harm. My (one and only) hive is in my garden, so I'll keep an eye on it and check that it's not getting blocked up by dead bees etc over the coming months.

Interesting about the ventilation. I had not thought about it acting as a chimney of cold air. Although on the same thought, being a long-time camper, I know how important top ventilation is to reduce condensation. Is the thinking that there is no condensation, or just that it evaporates quickly and doesn't drip?
 #4938  by Chrisbarlow
 04 Oct 2019, 11:56
If it's your one and only box of bees, definitely put your mouse guard on.

As for condensation, that's a million dollar question and you'll get lots of opinions on it, some polar opposite to Nigel's.

You do get condensation, no ifs or buts. The question is which is worst or are there any positives to either, the condensation or the draft. I personally try to limit all draft in my hives including open mesh floors and I have no top ventilation.