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. 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 planed, sanded, sawed, and hammered mercilessly at these things, but it’s like stuffing a mastiff in a mailbox.
The problem began when I purchased screened bottom boards from different suppliers. Each one snugs up to the brood boxes with no problem, but there’s no rhyme or reason to how the reducers are measured. One enterprising company with beef for brains even staples the hardware cloth right where you are supposed to slide the reducer in. Really? Does anyone test this stuff before it goes in 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.