For all the beekeepers out there, upper entrances are a popular favorite, and they even make for an effective method to destroy your colony. However, they may not be the best solution as natural elements like the wind and rainfall in your area will determine how useful it turns out to be. Many prefer upper entrances during specific periods during the year, especially in winter and when the nectar flow is at its prime. Alternatively, they are closed during the monsoon seasons and slightly ahead of summer when the nectar flow stagnates. If you are looking for the pros and cons of upper entrances used to produce honey and nectar, this article will answer all of your questions!
Types of Entrances
The appeal of upper entrances
When there is high nectar flow, upper entrances are usually used to ensure that the nectar forages do not have to pass the queen excluder. Furthermore, pollen forages can also easily reach the brood nest just by going through the lower entrance. As unlikely as it seems, bees are highly intelligent and take advantage of such an arrangement to get in and out as quickly as possible.
The upper entrance should only be used until there is nectar dearth and should be closed during that period to prevent bees and wasps from entering, up until winter. When you notice condensation under the hive covers, adding a moisture quilt above an Imirie shim that comes with an entrance will allow the moisture to escape. This will effectively help to cut down on the amount of moisture that enters your hives.
As the cold temperature persists during winter, colonies tend to get tinier and tighter. Beekeepers may choose to close the entrance until after the monsoon season ends to prevent the instance of a queen that has just been through the mating process coming back to the hive. This may result in her getting trapped on top of the queen excluder.
The downside of upper entrances
Such entrances require frequent and consistent management, and a failure to do that might result in larger issues altogether. For example, many will spend a large amount of time unplugging and replugging upper entrances. Though some may try to overcome this problem by investing in an array of wooden and plastic plugs that are the exact size of the hole, there is still a host of problems that can result in the ineffectiveness of the entrances. Failing to close off the honey supers when the swarm season comes around may result in an immense brood in the honey supers as well as honey in the brood boxes, while not paying enough attention to the upper entrances may cause robbing bees and wasps to happen.
UD Intrance (internal entrance)
Due to the many cons of the common Langstroth entrance, professional beekeeper Filipe Salbany has managed to successfully develop a multiple entrance system that is far more effective than others. Some of the problems that other systems have include the ineffectiveness to guard against bees and wasps, as well as the susceptibility to the intrusion of pests like mice and shrews. His design is called The Upstairs Downstairs Intrance or UD Intrance (internal entrance), which is a compact box that comes with everything you need to entirely transform your Langstroth hive. An inexpensive and easy-to-use alternative, it boasts of its efficacy to facilitate hive ventilation, prevent robbing wasps and bees, and increase foraging.
Filipe’s unique product contains four access points, where three are positioned at the lower brood box to replace the standard long opening, while one is positioned further up. Compatible with hives made out of wood or poly, beekeepers have the freedom of choice and personal preference if they have the usual dimensions that provide sufficient bee space. From the outside, the bees have to access it through a one-inch hole and then into a second opening at the bottom before they can reach the hive. There is also a fourth access point located inside that is provided in the kit that can be positioned at the upper broad box or the honey super, according to your setup. The kit also comes with four sturdy plugs to decrease the amount of cold wind that enters during the winter or to facilitate the temporary closing of your hive to encourage oxalic acid vaporation. Furthermore, there are also four vented plugs included, to ensure that the bees stay inside during events of a pesticide spraying, or to serve as easy blockings to extra entrances when robbing bees and wasps are in the area.
For all the beekeepers who are not huge fans of DIY projects, fret not for the kit comes with an easy-to-read manual to set up your own UD Intrance.
Its intelligent design of an internal entrance makes it suitable as wax moths, wasps and mice are unable to enter due to the tiny entrance inside that helps bees develop a strong defense system. Furthermore, it also disables the build-up of propolis and burr comb. The vestibule-like design controls the draft entering the entrance, and it easily transforms itself into a warm-way setup. The solid plastic in the hive effectively reduces the power of any draft that comes into the hive, making it cold-proof. More so, this product ensures flexibility where beekeepers can alter the openings for their individual colonies according to their sizes, making it extremely adaptable and convenient.
If you’re used to using upper entrances, we recommend giving this multiple-opening UD Intrance a shot and witness its effectiveness for yourself. As it prevents pests like slugs and robbing bees from entering, as well as keeps the draft outside, this new unique design might be the holy grail to all your hive problems. Due to its customizable nature, you can also purchase it without having to worry about its suitability for your individual colonies. At the end of the day, beekeepers should find a hive that suits their needs, especially since different climates bring about a different set of problems altogether. Regardless of whether you prefer the UD Intrance or the standard Langstroth one, the bottom line is to keep your bees safe and in an ideal condition, to increase your honey production.