Propolis: The original entrance reducer

3 Mar

Score another victory for lazy beekeeping! Either it blew away or I just plain forgot to add one, but regardless, when I went to visit the Candelaria Farms apiary, there was no entrance reducer on the one surviving hive. The girls had managed on their own and here’s how…

But first, what is an entrance reducer anyway?

Many beekeepers, myself included, reduce the size of the hive opening each winter to give the girls an edge in controlling pests, ventilation, and more. It’s a cheap, quick, and commonly-used intervention.

Read more about entrance reducers

What happens if I don’t use an entrance reducer?

The colony gathers propolis to reduce the entrance as it pleases. As you can see in the entrance to this hive, my girls simply formed columns of propolis this past winter to ventilate and protect the hive according to their needs.

Propolis columns at the hive entrance

I’m going to leave these sticky columns intact until the heat of Summer and see how the girls adjust them to suit their collective desire. Watch for photos…

UPDATE: Here’s what the propolis “front door” looked like one month later.

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5 Responses to “Propolis: The original entrance reducer”

  1. karcuri13 March 6, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    That’s really cool. It will be very interesting if they remove it as the weather gets warmer.

  2. James Lewis March 6, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    I have a TBH and made it myself. I cut the entrance too wide to begin with. As winter and the cold came around, I gathered a bunch of my bees’ beeswax to reduce the hive entrance. As I looked at the entrance I noticed the bees had already reduced it themselves with propolis. Saved me the time and they made it to their liking. Very cool !
    I will also watch to see if they remove the propolis as the nectar starts to flow.

    Cheer!

    By the way, just made my first batch of mead with 14.8 lbs of my own hive’s honey. The original gravity came in at 1.140 and has already fermented to 16% alc.
    I’ll let it sit for about 6 months and then keg it with a slight amount of carbonation for a slightly sparkling mead…

  3. mistress beek March 6, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    *Sweet*, James! More support for lazy beekeeping.

    Congrats on the mead. Sounds like you’re making a Euro-style, strong mead. Did you add any fruit or flavorings for the initial fermentation? My latest batch will be ready in November — we should have a tasting!

    • James Lewis March 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

      Chantal,
      You are right, I went for a strong dry mead. I didn’t add any fruit or additions to this one. I tried it last weekend after racking it over to a secondary and it has a very “ancient” flavor. Very interesting !
      It is at 19.2% now.

      Cheers to honey and zymurgy; we’ll have to have a tasting.

  4. Nina Peterson March 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    I was so happy to see your notes on this because one of my hives did the exact same thing and I was concerned that maybe I had done something wrong. They have always been a tad bit of an “angry” hive but they produce lots of honey and are very strong. Glad to see that it is a very normal and appropriate behavior!! Thanks so much for your information.

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