Opening Up Your Hive: When to Remove the Entrance Reducer

beehive entrance reducer
If you enjoy this content, please share:

The entrance of a hive is usually at the bottom. In most designs, there is a floor placed immediately below the brood box, where the queen lives. The floor is open to the front to let the bees come and go. However, most beekeepers use an entrance reducer to limit the area that is available for bees from other colonies, wasps, moths, and other pests, including mice, to enter the hive and cause havoc.

If you live in a temperate region, you could keep an entrance reducer on the hive most of the year, only taking it off in the warmer months and to open it up for the bees to forage at the peak time of year. Those in more warmer climes might want to avoid using a reducer to negate the possibility of the hive overheating.

Just as there are many designs for hives, so there are many for entrance reducers. Most commonly they are a length of wood with a big opening scooped out in the center or to one side.

One of the reasons for using a reducer is that the entrance is usually only busy for six to eight weeks in a year, which coincides with when local plants are in flower. This is when there is a lot of nectar to collect and when the bee population is at its largest.

Bestseller No. 1
BeeCastle Beehive Entrance Reducer 10 Frame Wood Hive Entrance Protector for Beekeeping
  • Entrance Reducer- A beehive entrance reducer provides a hole for the honey bees to come and go from.
  • Ventilation- This entrance reducer also provides ventilation and airflow to the hive.
  • Protect Your Bees- The small hole of the entrance reducer can help your bees defend against predators.
  • Standard Size – BeeCastle Entrance Reducer measures(LxWxH): 14.60″ x 0.74″ x 0.74″ inch / 37.1 x 1.9 x 1.9 cm. It suit for 10 frame beehives.
  • Solid Material-This beehive entrance reducer was made of cedar wood, which is the same as beehives.
Bestseller No. 2
4 Pack Beehive Entrance Reducer Wood Hive Entrance Protector Beekeeping Bee Hive 10 Frame Entrance Reducer for Beekeeping 14.75 x 0.75 x 0.75 Inch
  • What You Will Receive: you will receive 4 pieces of bee hive protectors, the sufficient quantity and strong structure are enough to meet your daily use and replacement needs, you can also share them with others
  • Size Information: 10 frame entrance reducer measures about 14.75 x 0.75 x 0.75 inches/ 37.465 x 1.9 x 1.9 cm, fits most standard size beehives, the right size can give you a good use experience
  • Reliable Material: wood hive entrance protector is made of quality wood material, reliable and sturdy, strong and solid, not easy to deform or break, which can support you for a long time
  • Accessible Design: beehive entrance reducer provides space for bees to enter and exit while keeping other animals out, all you need to do is put them in the bottom of the brood box
  • Easy to Use: beekeeping wood hive entrance protector is easy to use and fits directly to the front door of the hive, beekeeping entrance reducers are designed for use with 10 frame beehives and can be applied with hive boxes with solid bottom panels

Protecting the Hive

The hive is protected by guard bees. Most of the time when nothing is troubling the colony you will not see any guard bees at the entrance. But if you knock the hive then a few will appear. If they do not see what is causing the disturbance, a couple will fly around to see if any action is needed.

beehive entrance reducer

When the guard bees are at the entrance, they will challenge other bees entering the hive. Bees from the colony all have the same smell because of recognition pheromones. However, drifting worker bees from other colonies will smell different and will therefore be challenged. Because the drifting bees are carrying pollen and nectar and have confused this hive for their own, they react passively to the challenge. The guard will let them go, but they will be challenged several times. At this stage, the pheromone secretion of the guards will have rubbed off on the offending bee and it will then join the colony.

However, if a bee that hopes to enter the hive and steal honey is accosted, the reaction will be more aggressive and a fight is likely, with one or both ending up dead. The same happens to wasps. Their zig-zagging flight across the entrance normally alerts the guards to raiders and wasps as they seek a way past the guards. If the interlopers were to be successful at gaining entry, then the colony will be at risk.

Entrance Reducer and Mouse Guard for 8 or 10 Frame Bee Hive, Used for Beekeeping with No-Rust, Universal Stainless Steel Metal Design for Winter and Year Around, 4-Pack
  • FROM AN AMERICAN COMPANY: 4 pack of our reversible and universal, heavy gauge, stainless steel entrance reducers with a unique sliding design so they adjust to fit 8 frame, 10 frame bee hives, flow hives, layens and warre hives.
  • PROTECTS AGAINST MICE AND ROBBERS: One entrance reducer is enough to reduce the entrance of a bee hive and still provide ventilation or act as a mouse guard and can be left on during winter, spring, fall and summer and protects against robbing from bees, wasps and hornets
  • SMART DESIGN: One side with oblong holes to allow bees to move in and out easily, but still allowing the colony to easily protect their hive from invaders. The other side is designed with small holes to prevent bees from getting in and out, but letting air through; perfect for moving a colony securely from one location to another.
  • NATURAL DESIGN: Based on the research of Tom Seeley, we developed this entrance reducer to the correct size entrance bees prefer naturally. The total entrance of the colony is what wild bees prefer, helping beekeepers work with the bees and not against them.
  • WORKS WITH ENTRANCE FEEDERS: The only entrance reducer on the market that works with multiple styles of hives and still allows an entrance feeder to be used; perfect for the beginner beekeeper that needs to feed their colony while still allowing the young colony to grow into full size.

Using an Entrance Reducer

Ron Brown, in his Seasonal Guide to Beekeeping (see the book on Amazon – opens in a new tab), recommends using a screw at one side so that the block can be swung open during the honey flow and pushed back at the end of the summer when the risk of raiding is greater. He also uses a design where some nails are inserted into the hole in the reducer to prevent mice from entering the hive.

One advantage of using a reducer is that it helps to protect a weaker hive from raiding or wasp attack. The fewer the bees there are in a colony, the harder it will be to defend a wide opening.

Reducers in winter also help with keeping out draughts. Some beekeepers advise turning the reducer upside down so that the hole is at the top and does not become blocked.

Another time to use a reducer to completely block the entrance is when you want to move a colony. Or when you are using treatments inside the hive to control mites.

Dancing Outside the Entrance

When the worker bees are young, they go out on play flights. These tend to happen on warm afternoons and the bees all have a habit of flying at the same time, which creates a lot of noise. The beekeeper will see them flying in circles of ever-increasing size.

The young bees fly out backwards, looking back at the entrance to the hive and the area in which the hive is situated. Bees have a particularly good memory for what the front of the hive looks like and can be confused if the picture changes. For example, if you let the grass grow up in front of the entrance and then cut it down, they will spend a lot longer returning the hive.

What this is telling you is that you want to make as few changes to the appearance of the hive as possible.

While looking at the entrance, the beekeeper should get used to the appearance of the bees. If there are any changes, that can be a sign of trouble. For example, foraging bees tend to fly straight in and straight out. The number of bees that you see is another factor to consider.

Types of Reducers

Reducers can be made from metal, plastic, or wood. Some of the wooden bars have two openings scooped into them, one small and one large so that you can make adjustments through the year.

Some beekeepers use a metal strip with holes in it to ensure that mice cannot enter the hive during the winter. One downside to this is if it is left in the entrance when the worker bees start foraging then pollen can be knocked off the bees’ legs.

When to Remove Entrance Reducer – Conclusion

In summary then, the entrance reducer plays an essential role in regulating the airflow of the beehive and controlling the entrance size to protect the colony from predators, pests, and harsh weather conditions. Knowing when to remove the entrance reducer is crucial for maintaining the health and productivity of the hive. While the timing may vary depending on the specific circumstances of your hive and your local climate, removing the entrance reducer in the late spring or early summer can help promote proper ventilation and prevent overcrowding. By keeping a close eye on the conditions of your hive and following these guidelines, you can help ensure a successful and thriving beekeeping experience.

Last update on 2023-11-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you enjoy this content, please share:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top