My first day on the job as a beekeeper, and my first minor emergency. I got an email this morning from Callum who is working on-site where my bees are located. He sent me an email to say everything looks fine from afar except that the entrance reducer to the hive seemed to be pushed into the hive a few inches. Hmmm….
The reason an entrance reducer is used is to limit access to the hive and protect the weak colony from robbing. It is easy for a few bees to guard a small entrance, but much more difficult for them to guard a large entrance. If my entrance reducer was not in place, then the hive was at risk of robbing. Once the hive is running full fledge, it’s OK to have a completely open entrance, but not right now.
So at lunch, my wife and I jumped into the car and drove out to do an external inspection on the hive. When we got there, it was worse than I’d expected. The entrance reducer had somehow gotten pushed about 5 inches into the hive; well past the first frame or two. Not good. I don’t think that there’s any way that the bees could have pushed it in, nor was the wind strong enough. My best guess is that my hive had a late-night visit from a raccoon or skunk who pushed their tiny hands into the entrance.
Lucky for me, I came prepared with a plan and a quick-fix to rectify the problem. I didn’t want to create any added stress on the hive, seeing as they were just installed yesterday, so I didn’t want to open up the top cover or remove any frames. I reviewed my plan with my loving wife, Heather, and we suited up. Here’s how we fixed the problem:
Securing your entrance reducer in 5 easy steps
Step 1: Because the entrance reducer was so far in the hive, I couldn’t retrieve it and slide it out in place. Instead, I took a pen, and marked a line on the bottom board so I knew where the entrance reducer should sit.
Step 2: Heather — who was interacting with bees for the first time, by the way — lifted the entire box, complete with inner cover and telescoping cover upwards about 3 or 4 inches.
Step 3: I reached in, grabbed the entrance reducer, and set it in place where it should have stayed the first time, lining it up with the pen mark from Step 1.
Step 4: I then took two push pins (I told you I came prepared) and placed one on either end of the entrance reducer just inside the hive. They will now make it nearly impossible for the entrance reducer to be pushed into the hive.
Step 5: Heather set the box back down and aligned the edges. We high-fived and admired a job well done.
The whole process took about 30 seconds, and that includes time to take a couple photos to document the process. We were lucky that the hive was still quite light and that there was only one box to deal with.
So now that the entrance reducer isn’t going anywhere, I will leave them alone until next weekend when I check and make sure everything looks OK. I’m glad that the problem was reported to me so promptly and that I could get out there and come up with a solution right away. Hopefully my bees weren’t too bothered and are now more comfortable in their new home.