Any beekeepers recognize the importance of installing a beehive entrance reducer, especially during the winter months. It provides lots of significant uses – from preventing pest infestation and rodent attacks to maintaining beehive thermoregulation (i.e. temperature :)). But how would you know it is time to remove the entrance reducer and allow the bees to enter and exit their beehive freely?
It is best to remove the entrance reducer during warm weather and nectar flow season. It only causes the hive to overheat, plus it affects bees from fetching water for their honeycomb to cool the hive. Bees collect honey throughout nectar flow season, so it may also not be necessary at all.
There are other cases where an entrance reducer provides less aid both for bees and beekeepers. But in general, it is a beneficial tool for hives as a form of protection against outsiders and extreme cold. It’s just a matter of knowing when you should use it, which we’ll cover here, alongside ways to remove the entrance reducer in just a few easy steps. So, keep reading to learn more!
Do You Need to Use an Entrance Reducer on Your Beehive?
Beehive entrance reducers have been gaining approval since they were first introduced. But, as we are aware, popularity comes with controversy. It can be a dangerous tool if used unsuitably and in the wrong circumstances.
The concern of whether or not you need to install one on your beehive depends on a few crucial factors, such as the climate or season you are in. Bees need an entrance reducer to keep them warm throughout wintry weather. They need a temperature of 96 degrees Fahrenheit for the brood to survive and grow.
So, does it mean those living in warm areas can ignore using it for good?
Well, not necessarily. The tool also aims to protect small or flourishing hives, specifically weak ones. A beehive with inadequate bee populations may have difficulty shielding a large entrance, which is the opposite when you use a reduced opening. Besides giving them security inside, they also have a high fighting chance in case rodents or pests come sniffing around!
Naturally, bees with use propolis to reduce the entrance to their hive, although they don’t always do this when you might expect! If you notice the bees are not showing any signs of minimizing their entrance size, a cluster of tiny sticks may help if you feel they need protection. Otherwise, an entrance reducer is an ideal solution.
This thin strip is usually crafted from wood, but you can also find some versions made out of plastic and metal. The notch is either cut into two or a single oversized hole intended to give beekeepers more control over how bees come and go.
According to Tom Seeley, an experienced beekeeper, wild honey bees favor a 10 to 15-square centimeter entrance size or around 1 ½ to 2 ½ square inches. An 8-inch frame beehive requires an open entrance of 9 square inches, while a 10-inch hive has an average of 10.5 square inches.
When Should A Beehive Use an Entrance Reducer?
Earlier, we have given you a glimpse into when it may be the right time to use an entrance reducer, which is during winter and for protecting weak colonies. There are other viable applications, though.
Bees are known as well-versed thermoregulators – having the capacity to maintain 95 to 97° F – except during excessive cold. The reducer is typically used to combat snow, wind, and rain, so they won’t enter the hive and make the young bees freeze from the cold. It helps control the temperature to keep the beehive in tip top condition.
Colder months are when potential attacks from yellow jackets or robber bees are high, as well as rodents. They look for a weak hive with fewer bees from which they can steal the honey and pollen, besides spoiling the comb. Using a well-built reduced opening will aid colonies when defending themselves.
Others use this tool when the hive is in state of peril, such as when the number of dead bees continuously spikes. They are more susceptible to attacks, so adding an entrance reducer is a must! Instead of being anxious about intruders, their focus is diverted to valuable activities, like cleaning the beehive and producing honey.
In case you need to conduct treatment to control hive mites, you can use the device to bottle up the vapors and fog in the beehive. Seal for around ten minutes, and then unseal afterward. You can even use the tool as a swarm trap if you have a hard time catching a flood of bee colonies.
How to Know When to Remove the Entrance Reducer from A Beehive
If humans need proper moisture to preserve good skin and health, hives need it to flourish. Moisture tends to accumulate in the warm season, so it may be best to remove and store it for a while.
There may be an inadequate supply of air with the reducer installed, which could cause mold (due to lack of ventilation). As a beekeeper, you know mold is not a good thing to see, because your bees are at high risk of dieing out altogether. It can cause terminal damage to the comb, brood, and hive components.
If ventilation is a problem in hotter months with an entrance reducer installed, you could use wire fencing instead. As long as the weave of wire fence is fine enough so that bees can’t easily get through, you can have a reduced entrance together with good ventilation.
Sometimes, you may notice large groups of bees consistently coming and going from the tapered opening. This indicates nectar flow season, when they scavenge for food continuously. During this period, they try to gather as much honey and pollen as they can, hence, you may feel the need to take out the entrance reducer to offer the least amount of resistance possible 🙂
Although beneficial, entrance reducers can annoy honey bees, especially if they are not familiar with using this item. It makes them powerless to move and thus hampering their daily routines. Before using a reduced entrance, be sure to weigh up your options. Better yet, seek assistance from a well-versed beekeeper to know you are doing the right thing.
How to Remove Entrance Reducer for A Beehive?
Now that your honey bees no longer need an entrance reducer, now’s the time to remove that thing. But how? Don’t worry, you don’t need to learn a complex skill or have vast experience to tackle this job. As long as you have the right tools, you’re good to go.
There is no need to remove the entire beehive box from the lowermost board. Most beekeepers recommend using a hive tool or a J-hook tool. Just stick it in the opening and clamp on to the entrance reducer’s back side. Remove gently. The process still requires a lot of effort, sure, but it won’t take up much of your time.
Watch the following video if you are still unsure what I mean.
Use caution when removing the entrance reducer!
We understand the urge to take out the whole reducer to provide your bees with ample room to flap around. Bees become weaker (and usually thirst for a good source of carbohydrates) while collecting pollen. A wholly removed or over enlarged entrance can invite stronger colonies to rob the weaker groups. Your option is to keep the reducer on weaker beehives and leave it exclusively open on densely inhabited and stout colonies.
Check the hive sporadically – use an old bee brush to clean it up. Look for dead bees and remove them. You can implement a weekly schedule for this. Provide good ventilation to keep fresh air inside. Don’t forget to seal the beehive once you are done removing the reducer.
Installing an entrance reducer might be risky, but the benefits still outweigh the downsides in most cases. It protects honey bee colonies from robbing and extreme cold. Both rookie and seasoned keepers can install and remove it, depending on the situation. You can use the information in this article to help you get started. Happy beekeeping!!