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Do I need to do anything to the entrance of my hive for winter? Also, unpainted box question  RSS feed

M Johnson
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I have a langstroth hive with two deeps on it...first year so I am not taking any honey. Just added the second box about 4 weeks ago, so I know I was late there, but when I added it, there were tons of bees and activity inside and had bees outside also.

I started the hive in the spring and have lots of clover and then goldenrod later, so they've had plenty of food sources and a pond within 20'. ( I have 60 acres, 30 woods, 30 land).

I started the hive with the entrance reducer on the small side, per instructions. Then I changed it to the larger opening a week later when I confirm the queen got out. I didn't check or change anything else until i added the box.

1. Do I need to put the reducer back to the small entrance for winter? Is there ever a time to take the reducer out totally?
2. I added an unpainted box on top of a painted box. i plan on going the bee hut route, but I'm afraid I won't get to it soon...anything I can do to it with the box already in place? It has a metal covered top, so ok there, just worried if I'm going to cause the bees issues if the wood starts to get wet without protection.

Jennifer Quinn
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Having an entrance reducer helps the bees defend their hive from other bees and wasps during a dearth. A mouse guard might also be a good idea, especially if you live in a colder climate. The time to take out the reducer completely would be when the hive is strong and you are noticing a "traffic jam" at the entrance as foragers return and are having to wait to get inside.

As for the paint, some beekeepers (Michael Bush comes to mind) don't even bother with it. I would be more concerned about the wood warping than the bees themselves; they are pretty good at regulating the climate within their cluster. A little ventilation at the top will help prevent condensation. As a disclaimer, I haven't yet tried unpainted boxes so I am just guessing here...
Ludger Merkens
Posts: 171
Location: Deutschland (germany)
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Jennifer is absolutely right. No need for an entrance reducer, if the hive is strong and you are not in a dearth and simultanously feeding. But a mouse guard will become vital, if temperatures drop to a point, where the bees start to cluster in the hive. You can check with your local supplier or just use some wire cloth, 5.5 - 6.5 mm and pinch it over the otherwise open bee entrance.

painting your bee hive is not necessary, if you provide weather proofing. Much like a cob house - big hat and dry boots. Never paint the inside of a bee hive, and if you paint the outside of the hive, use a paint free of any toxins. Boiled linseed oil is fine, but beware of toxic desiccants. Often lead salts are used for this purpose, to reduce drying time of boiled linseed oil. So make sure, you don't get a paint with theese. Never paint a hive, while you have bees in it, give it at least a week between painting and introducing bees to a painted box.

--- Ludger
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