beekeeping equipment miscellaneous musings

Why do entrance reducers never fit?

A green entrance reducer. Entrance reducers never fit

When you buy hives from different suppliers, the entrance reducers come in many different sizes.

On Thursday past I reduced all of my hive entrances. Here at my place, it’s the year of the bald-faced hornet and they are everywhere. The garden, the chicken yard, and the planter boxes each have their own cloud of these vulturous creatures. And so do the hives. The hornets dive, swoop, dip, snare and chomp at anything alive or recently so. I keep looking for a huge gray paper pinecone swinging from a limb, but so far no luck. So now my poor bees are queuing at their entrances like customers at a failing bank.

The really irritating part of this exercise is the entrance reducers never fit. I have a five-gallon bucket full of these things, none of which fit anything. I take the bucket with me and stand in front of each hive testing, twisting, and turning each one to find a fit. Too long, too short, too fat, too thin. If I find one that kind of works, the entrance hole is too big or too small. I have shaved, sanded, sawed, and hammered mercilessly at these things, but it’s like stuffing a mastiff in a mailbox.

Different suppliers assure entrance reducers never fit

The problem began when I purchased screened bottom boards from different suppliers. Each one snugs up to the brood boxes with no problem, but the reducers come in all different sizes with no rhyme or reason. One enterprising company with beef for brains even staples the hardware cloth right where you need to slide the reducer in. Really? Does anyone test this stuff before it goes into the catalog?

But what really creeps me out is this: I lug the bucket of reducers to the apiary and, hive-by-hive, select the best fit. At the end of the day, I always end up with one reducer that is too long. And every year I cut it down to make it fit. Logic tells me that eventually, I’m going to have too many short ones. In fact, it should have happened several years ago . . . but it didn’t.

So what gives? It makes no sense and, in the meantime, the ever-present too-long reducer is giving me the heebie-jeebies.

Rusty Burlew
Honey Bee Suite

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  • In my case, it’s the bottom boards that aren’t the same. I got them all from the same supplier, but each bottom board is wider or narrower than the others. I also bought entrance reducers from the same supplier, and they’re all too short. So I did two things: 1) I built my own entrance reducers from scrap wood, each one custom fit to individual bottom boards. 2) I create reduced entrances with small blocks of wood like Legos. The blocks are various sizes and I line them up on the bottom boards until I get a reduced entrance I’m happy with. I’ve used those more than the custom-fit reducers.

    I’ve also lost plenty of socks in the dryer. It’s a mystery to me.

  • I leave an extra red brick on top of each hive. they fit great on the landing board, never move and are a quick way to close the entrance up a little (one brick) or a lot (two bricks)