When Do I Add Or Remove An Entrance Reducer?

When Do I Add Or Remove An Entrance Reducer?

Beekeepers are told to put an entrance reducer on each hive before winter starts. It is often cited that the need for an entrance reducer is to keep rodents out. It certainly does do that, but that is not why we use them. And at what point during the year are we supposed to remove them? Well, talk through entrance reducers so you will know how to use them.

In beginner beekeeping kits, a thin wood bar with several notches removed is included. There is one large gap and a small one confusingly notched on separate sides of the bar. They are meant to minimize the hole from which bees come and go, giving beekeepers more control. There are also a variety of metal round reducers and plastic round reducers and many other types available.

Entrance reducers on beehives can also be called a mouse guard because it is commonly used in the fall to keep mice from getting into the hive body.

Beekeepers are told to put an entrance reducer on each hive before winter starts. It is often cited that the need for an entrance reducer is to keep rodents out. It certainly does do that, but that is not why we use them. And at what point during the year are we supposed to remove them? Well, talk through entrance reducers so you will know how to use them.

In beginner beekeeping kits, a thin wood bar with several notches removed is included. There is one large gap and a small one confusingly notched on separate sides of the bar. They are meant to minimize the hole from which bees come and go, giving beekeepers more control. There are also a variety of metal round reducers and plastic round reducers and many other types available.

Entrance reducers on beehives can also be called a mouse guard because it is commonly used in the fall to keep mice from getting into the hive body.

What Does An Entrance Reducer Do?

An entrance reducer can have many benefits for the beekeeper and the bees. But at its most basic level, the entrance reducer takes a large entrance and makes it smaller. There are many reasons why to do this.

Firstly, the population of a hive naturally ebbs and flows throughout the year, creating an ever-changing workforce of bees responsible for guarding the hive. This population decreases as winter looms or the colony is weakened. The population of a hive can best be divided into two periods. Those periods are six months of growth from December through June, followed by six months of decline.

What Does An Entrance Reducer Do?

An entrance reducer can have many benefits for the beekeeper and the bees. But at its most basic level, the entrance reducer takes a large entrance and makes it smaller. There are many reasons why to do this.

Firstly, the population of a hive naturally ebbs and flows throughout the year, creating an ever-changing workforce of bees responsible for guarding the hive. This population decreases as winter looms or the colony is weakened. The population of a hive can best be divided into two periods. Those periods are six months of growth from December through June, followed by six months of decline.

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A beehive entrance reducer provides a consistent hole size for the honey bees to come and go from; even when the population changes naturally, a consistently defendable entrance size makes the hive easier to manage.

Secondly, entire colonies can become weak, and new colonies are being started yearly. This can happen after a hive swarms, is made weak by pests, or simply from something the beekeeper does. Because of this, beekeepers are often supporting weak or small colonies. As the bees’ keepers, we have a responsibility to support them as best we can and help them get through these periods of low populations.

It’s common to place an entrance reducer on a weaker hive, especially during the summer, to prevent robber bees from taking advantage of the weak colony.

Where Should I Put My Bee Hives?

Finding the right spot to place your bees is very important. It’s hard to move bees from one location to another if you don’t have

Read More »

A beehive entrance reducer provides a consistent hole size for the honey bees to come and go from; even when the population changes naturally, a consistently defendable entrance size makes the hive easier to manage.

Secondly, entire colonies can become weak, and new colonies are being started yearly. This can happen after a hive swarms, is made weak by pests, or simply from something the beekeeper does. Because of this, beekeepers are often supporting weak or small colonies. As the bees’ keepers, we have a responsibility to support them as best we can and help them get through these periods of low populations.

It’s common to place an entrance reducer on a weaker hive, especially during the summer, to prevent robber bees from taking advantage of the weak colony.

Reductor de entrada metálico universal y reversible

$12.00 CAD

Reductor de entrada metálico universal y reversible

$12.00 CAD

When Should I Use An Entrance Reducer On My Hive?

For the two reasons above, we often use entrance reducers year-round. We do this to be proactive in case of decreasing populations and to protect weak, small, growing hives. We only remove entrance reducers during periods of high nectar flows concurring simultaneously with a large colonyAnd even then, sometimes we don’t take it off.

Because we like to leave our entrance reducer on in both warm and cold weather, we aren’t overly concerned with lots of bee traffic. But if we do remove the entrance reducer, this is the time we may do it. When we see bees struggling to find a way inside the entrance because too many bees are coming and going.  Even then, it isn’t essential to remove entrance reducers. The exception would be when you use the very small, 1-inch gap on the wooden entrance reducers you typically see. These entrances are too small for a healthy hive.

When Should I Use An Entrance Reducer On My Hive?

For the two reasons above, we often use entrance reducers year-round. We do this to be proactive in case of decreasing populations and to protect weak, small, growing hives. We only remove entrance reducers during periods of high nectar flows concurring simultaneously with a large colonyAnd even then, sometimes we don’t take it off.

Because we like to leave our entrance reducer on in both warm and cold weather, we aren’t overly concerned with lots of bee traffic. But if we do remove the entrance reducer, this is the time we may do it. When we see bees struggling to find a way inside the entrance because too many bees are coming and going.  Even then, it isn’t essential to remove entrance reducers. The exception would be when you use the very small, 1-inch gap on the wooden entrance reducers you typically see. These entrances are too small for a healthy hive.

The good news is that entrance reducers are one of the small things you can change later. You can add an entrance reducer and test it out for yourself. If you don’t like using one, you can remove it. Or if you try the wooden entrance reducers on one colony and like it, you can put one on all of your hives. 

The good news is that entrance reducers are one of the small things you can change later. You can add an entrance reducer and test it out for yourself. If you don’t like using one, you can remove it. Or if you try the wooden entrance reducers on one colony and like it, you can put one on all of your hives. 

Location Of Bee Hive Entrances

Location Of Bee Hive Entrances

The beehive entrance reducer can be placed in several places. Typically on a Langstroth hive, it is on the bottom board on the bottom of the hive. But an entrance can also be placed on the top of the hive; this is up to the beekeeper’s discretion. A bottom entrance makes a modern Langstroth hive easier to manage during hive inspections. When the entrance is at the top of the hive, you get many confused bees in the air when you start taking the hive apart. When working your hives, you can only take so many bees in the air.

Besides the Langstroth hives, the most popular type of hive is the horizontal Langstroth Hive or the Top Bar Hive. Usually, those two hives are handmade, so when making them, you can make the entrance the size you want. 

The beehive entrance reducer can be placed in several places. Typically on a Langstroth hive, it is on the bottom board on the bottom of the hive. But an entrance can also be placed on the top of the hive; this is up to the beekeeper’s discretion. A bottom entrance makes a modern Langstroth hive easier to manage during hive inspections. When the entrance is at the top of the hive, you get many confused bees in the air when you start taking the hive apart. When working your hives, you can only take so many bees in the air.

Besides the Langstroth hives, the most popular type of hive is the horizontal Langstroth Hive or the Top Bar Hive. Usually, those two hives are handmade, so when making them, you can make the entrance the size you want. 

The Reason A Small Entrance Is Good

The Reason A Small Entrance Is Good

A smaller entrance size means fewer bees dedicate their days to guarding the entrance. A bee that is not a dedicated guard bee means one more bee that can be foraging or responding to other needs the colony may have. Having an oversized entrance requires the bees to spend more time and resources than they could be spending on another activity.

Even with a small entrance, bees usually perform all their daily jobs in the brood nest. This includes the need to clean out the hive by taking dead bees out of the hive. Sometimes, a small entrance can become clogged with debris like dead bees, but when the entrance reducer is sized large enough, this shouldn’t be an issue.

A smaller entrance size means fewer bees dedicate their days to guarding the entrance. A bee that is not a dedicated guard bee means one more bee that can be foraging or responding to other needs the colony may have. Having an oversized entrance requires the bees to spend more time and resources than they could be spending on another activity.

Even with a small entrance, bees usually perform all their daily jobs in the brood nest. This includes the need to clean out the hive by taking dead bees out of the hive. Sometimes, a small entrance can become clogged with debris like dead bees, but when the entrance reducer is sized large enough, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Types Of Entrance Reducers Or Mouse Guards On A Hive

You don’t have to have the exact entrance reducer that was included with your beekeeping kit. If you remember, the entrance reducer just makes the entrance smaller. We have been out working bees and needed to reduce the entrance and just ended up shoving sticks into the entrance. Other times we used a rag and pushed it into the entrance.

There is a type of device used for keeping small hive beetles out, of the hive which also doubles as an entrance reducer. It’s common for beekeepers to use two of these Guardian Beetle Traps on their hive to allow enough traffic into and out of the hive.

We built a metal entrance reducer that fits both 8 and 10 frame hives that we are very happy with. We spent a lot of time designing it to work well and make good sense for the bees and the beekeeper.

Wooden entrance reducers are the most common type found on a beehive. They have two notches, one small one and one large one. The small entrance is typically too small for most colonies. We have built our wooden reducers out of cypress wood, and we made the notches a good size so they can work for small and large colonies.

Types Of Entrance Reducers Or Mouse Guards On A Hive

You don’t have to have the exact entrance reducer that was included with your beekeeping kit. If you remember, the entrance reducer just makes the entrance smaller. We have been out working bees and needed to reduce the entrance and just ended up shoving sticks into the entrance. Other times we used a rag and pushed it into the entrance.

There is a type of device used for keeping small hive beetles out, of the hive which also doubles as an entrance reducer. It’s common for beekeepers to use two of these Guardian Beetle Traps on their hive to allow enough traffic into and out of the hive.

We built a metal entrance reducer that fits both 8 and 10 frame hives that we are very happy with. We spent a lot of time designing it to work well and make good sense for the bees and the beekeeper.

Wooden entrance reducers are the most common type found on a beehive. They have two notches, one small one and one large one. The small entrance is typically too small for most colonies. We have built our wooden reducers out of cypress wood, and we made the notches a good size so they can work for small and large colonies.

The disc entrance reducers are round and have a variety of holes that you can use. The disc rotates around so you can use the entrance you prefer. The most common options on them are a fully open entrance, an entrance that keeps the queen from going in and out, closed but ventilated, and an entrance only large enough for one or two bees. The larger the disc, the larger the entrances. The large discs have a nearly 1 3/4-inch entrance size, and the smaller entrance discs have almost a 1-inch entrance.

The disc entrance reducers are round and have a variety of holes that you can use. The disc rotates around so you can use the entrance you prefer. The most common options on them are a fully open entrance, an entrance that keeps the queen from going in and out, closed but ventilated, and an entrance only large enough for one or two bees. The larger the disc, the larger the entrances. The large discs have a nearly 1 3/4-inch entrance size, and the smaller entrance discs have almost a 1-inch entrance.

Ventilation And Air Flow With Entrance Reducers

Bees are remarkable and do a great job at maintaining their nest and providing enough air circulation inside the hive. For the most part, air ventilation is controlled by the bees as they can add heat to the brood nest or remove heat from the brood nest. Bees have a few tricks up their sleeve to control heat, and they use these during the hot summer and winter months. Through this natural behavior, the bees can achieve proper air circulation, and it can be done with a small or large entrance size.

You could argue that a fully open entrance will provide the best ventilation, but you could say it provides too much ventilation. It’s incredibly subjective because the bees have never told me what they prefer. But we know the bees do a good job at managing the inside of their colony and trust them to handle it.

Ventilation And Air Flow With Entrance Reducers

Bees are remarkable and do a great job at maintaining their nest and providing enough air circulation inside the hive. For the most part, air ventilation is controlled by the bees as they can add heat to the brood nest or remove heat from the brood nest. Bees have a few tricks up their sleeve to control heat, and they use these during the hot summer and winter months. Through this natural behavior, the bees can achieve proper air circulation, and it can be done with a small or large entrance size.

You could argue that a fully open entrance will provide the best ventilation, but you could say it provides too much ventilation. It’s incredibly subjective because the bees have never told me what they prefer. But we know the bees do a good job at managing the inside of their colony and trust them to handle it.

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Research hasn’t told us how much or what type of ventilation bees prefer, but we do know what size entrance they like. There has been a lot of good research on wild honey bees and what they prefer, so we can adapt that knowledge to our managed hives.

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Bearding Bees: What Beekeepers Should Know Bearding is the term used for a group of honey bees clustering around their hive entrance. When a group

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Research hasn’t told us how much or what type of ventilation bees prefer, but we do know what size entrance they like. There has been a lot of good research on wild honey bees and what they prefer, so we can adapt that knowledge to our managed hives.

Using An Entrance Reducer For Robbing

Robbing is this behavior that bees do, which is better described as looting. It’s a free for all for bees where instead of foraging for nectar, a colony forager bees will steal the resources from another colony that can’t protect itself. Read about robbing and what you can do here.

Entrance reducers don’t work great at stopping robber bees after they have already started. Other tools for this do a better job. The entrances designed to help with robbing are unique and use a little deception to make it harder for robbers. They are typically called robbing screens.

Any of these entrance reducers we have talked about aren’t good for stopping robber bees, but they do help prevent robbing in the first place. This is one of the primary reasons we like having an entrance reducer year around. 

Using An Entrance Reducer For Robbing

Robbing is this behavior that bees do, which is better described as looting. It’s a free for all for bees where instead of foraging for nectar, a colony forager bees will steal the resources from another colony that can’t protect itself. Read about robbing and what you can do here.

Entrance reducers don’t work great at stopping robber bees after they have already started. Other tools for this do a better job. The entrances designed to help with robbing are unique and use a little deception to make it harder for robbers. They are typically called robbing screens.

Any of these entrance reducers we have talked about aren’t good for stopping robber bees, but they do help prevent robbing in the first place. This is one of the primary reasons we like having an entrance reducer year around. 

Keeping Mice Out Of Your Beehive

For the most part, beekeepers do not have a problem with mice in their hive. In the past ten years, we have only noticed mice in one hive after the winter passed, and the mice had been living in the equipment all winter long. The colony died out months prior, and the mice just turned their boxes into their home. So don’t expect mice to be a problem you have to think about every fall.

Entrance reducers help keep mice and rodents out of the hive and many other pests. The smaller entrance makes it harder for predators like raccoons, opossums, or other animals to bother the colony when searching for an easy meal. One pest that does seem to be a common issue for beekeepers is wasps, especially during the summer. A smaller entrance will make it a little harder for wasps to cause an issue as the small entrance is easier to guard.

Keeping Mice Out Of Your Beehive

For the most part, beekeepers do not have a problem with mice in their hive. In the past ten years, we have only noticed mice in one hive after the winter passed, and the mice had been living in the equipment all winter long. The colony died out months prior, and the mice just turned their boxes into their home. So don’t expect mice to be a problem you have to think about every fall.

Entrance reducers help keep mice and rodents out of the hive and many other pests. The smaller entrance makes it harder for predators like raccoons, opossums, or other animals to bother the colony when searching for an easy meal. One pest that does seem to be a common issue for beekeepers is wasps, especially during the summer. A smaller entrance will make it a little harder for wasps to cause an issue as the small entrance is easier to guard.

The Natural Entrance Size Bees Prefer

A well-read beekeeper named Tom Seeley discovered that the ideal entrance size preferred by wild honey bees is between 10 and 15 square centimeters. He wrote all about it in this book called Honey Bee Democracy, which is a must read for beekeepers.  That is between 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 square inches. A wide open entrance on a 10-frame hive is 10.5 square inches and the entrance of an 8-frame hive wide open is 9 square inches. If you want to turn your Langstroth entrance into a more natural entrance size the bees prefer, block the entire entrance except 2-3 inches. This remaining entrance will be between 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 square inches.

We decided an entrance reducer that slides and adapts to both 8 and 10 frame equipment. We made the holes in the entrance reducer to be the exact size that is recommended by Tom Seeley. It is available on Amazon as well as on our website.

Happy Beekeeping

The Natural Entrance Size Bees Prefer

A well-read beekeeper named Tom Seeley discovered that the ideal entrance size preferred by wild honey bees is between 10 and 15 square centimeters. He wrote all about it in this book called Honey Bee Democracy, which is a must read for beekeepers.  That is between 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 square inches. A wide open entrance on a 10-frame hive is 10.5 square inches and the entrance of an 8-frame hive wide open is 9 square inches. If you want to turn your Langstroth entrance into a more natural entrance size the bees prefer, block the entire entrance except 2-3 inches. This remaining entrance will be between 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 square inches.

We decided an entrance reducer that slides and adapts to both 8 and 10 frame equipment. We made the holes in the entrance reducer to be the exact size that is recommended by Tom Seeley. It is available on Amazon as well as on our website.

Happy Beekeeping

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