Entrance Reducers

Metal entrance reducer on on of my hives, photo courtesy of my father .

What is the purpose of an entrance reducer? Entrance reducers can be used for different things at different times of the year. Entrance reducers are most commonly used in the fall when forage becomes limited and bee traffic slows down. It is also important to seal up any other holes in the colony around this time of the year to prevent robbing or access for pests. Beekeepers will decrease the size of hive entrances to limit the space that the bees have to protect. They also change the temperature and ventilation unless using screen bottom boards. Reducers can keep unwanted pest like chipmunks and mice out of the colonies while the bees are clustered for winter. I have included images of some different entrance reducers I have seen in the field. I prefer the metal entrance reducer because mice are less likely to chew through them. If you are using the standard wooden cleat reducer with two notches, you should put notch facing upward toward the hive body. This in theory prevents the notch from being covered by accumulating dead bees from the cluster. When checking stores in the winter it is good practice to clean dead bees out of the entrance. Using an old bee brush or a plasting hanger work well for cleaning out the hive without disassemble the hive bodies.

Wood entrance reducers on some colonies.

Improvized entrance reducer.

Another wood entrance reducer.

I stole this idea for a skunk guard from Dr. Robert Berthold and the skunk guard is pictured below. This entrance reducer uses galvanized wire mesh shaped at an angle to discourage skunks. This makes the skunk have to scratch above the wire to get the bees to come out of the hive. In doing this the skunk’s belly is exposed, one of the vulnerable spots the bees can sting the skunk. The skunk will place its feet on the chicken wire slant and get stung in the feet. You must make sure this is attached in the entrance pretty well because the skunk will try to pull it out. Also keeping hives elevated prevents skunks from eating and irritating your bees. You can use ¼ inch. galvanized wire mesh to make entrance reducers which also work well for mice and chipmunks.

Skunk Guard made from wire mesh

Skunk guard front view.

Written By: Rob Snyder

Rob Snyder has written 66 post in this blog.

I currently work out of the Butte County Cooperative Extension in Oroville, CA as a Crop Protection Agent. I received my B.S. in biology from Delaware Valley College, PA. There I attained a majority of my entomological knowledge from Dr. Chris Tipping and Dr. Robert Berthold. After graduation, I was an apiary inspector for 2 years at the Department of Agriculture in Pennsylvania. In my third year there, I still inspected some colonies but I mainly focused on The Pennsylvania Native Bee Survey (PANBS) where I pinned, labeled, entered data and identified native bees to genus species. Leo Donavall assisted me in learning the basics on positive Identifications of the native bees. Around the same time I began working on coordinating kit construction and distribution for the APHIS National Honey Bee Survey. I was also fortunate to conduct many of these surveys with fellow co-worker Mike Andree and Nathan Rice of USDA/ARS throughout California. All of these experiences have led me to where I am today, working to assist beekeepers in maintaining genetic diverse colonies resistant to parasites while reducing the use of chemical treatments in colonies. The BIP Diagnostic Lab at the University of MD is in an integral part of this process by generating reports in which we can track change and report to beekeepers vital information in a timely manner which may influence their treatment decisions.


12 Responses to “Entrance Reducers”

  1. Ronald Lambert

    I never thought of that, but will give it a try. Richard Taylor used a 1/2″ board with nails facing upward to keep the Skunks away.

  2. Sammy Wight

    My wooden entrance reducer has a small opening and also a larger opening. Cannot find in either of my beebooks which one should be used for winterizing. Currently it is set on the larger opening. Please advise. Thank you very much!

  3. Rob Snyder

    I would use the larger of the two holes unless it is a small colonly like a 5 frame nuc, then use the small hole. Sorry for the late response!! I hope your bees are doing well, don’t forget to check the weight on the colonly throughout the winter!! If they are light you can feed fondent or sugar candy.