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SBB weird behavior -- newly installed nucs

OK, I’m new, so I am actually hoping thesis not that weird, and someone can explain.

Just installed 5 frame nucs in 2 10 frame langstroth hives. Both deeps are new, with Kelley Beekeeping SBB. One deep has 5 frames with yellow waxed cell-rite foundation and one has 5 frames of wired wax foundation. Both have a Mann Lake top feeder (the kind with 2 reservoirs and a screened bee access in the middle.

Installation went fine, except my smoker kept running out of fuel (I know, I really need to practice that evolution). Did one hive, then waited about 30-45 minutes to let them calm down before doing the other – they are right next to each other.
Time was approx 11am to 12:30pm.

What seems strange to me is that from the start, a bunch of bees congregated at the rear of the hive at the slot openings for the screen and the panel in the SBB. At first I thought it was just because of hive odor spilling out there???
However, over the last almost 4 hours, not only has that continued, but the bees are squeezing in at that slotted opening as if they can use this as an entrance. At the same time, there is plenty of activity at the front main entrance, in which I have placed the entrance reducer, as advised. Is that wrong? Should I open the entrance wide?

Any thoughts? Perplexed in central Virginia.

Hi Perplexed in Central Virginia. I would recommend using a solid floor & open the entrance up.

I recently found that wood shavings are the best long lasting smoker fuel. Make sure your smoker is empty of fuel from a previous use. Make a nice fire in the base of it using small sticks & cardboard, get it nice & hot, then add the wood shavings, they can be mixed with sawdust. You will be amazed at how long it smokes for.

Thanks, Jeff, I do have the full ‘board’ in under the screen, but I can open wide the front door in the morning…

And thank you also for the smoker tips!


You are most welcome Harris,

Unless you want the screen for pest management, I’d remove it completely so as to only have a solid floor. I believe that bees manage to air condition their hives more efficiently with the entrance as the only air supply.

Another smoker tip is to leave the lid slightly open between uses, the breeze will keep it going for you.

Good luck with your bees, cheers:)

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Sounds like the screened bottom board is confusing them.

When you installed the bees, they automatically start fanning their pheromones to communicate to all the bees that the queen is in here along with the rest of us. The bees will try to get to that smell wherever it is coming from, i.e., entrance, screened bottom, gaps at screened bottom, etc.
When the screened bottom finally goes bad, get solid bottoms; the bees like to be enclosed.

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As of 7pm, they were still somehow getting in and out through the screen slot. I didn’t think it was possibly big enough! And, there is a lot of activity at the slot for the solid bottom board, as well (but I would think that would just end up below the screen. On the other hand, there is plenty of activity at the front door. As suggested, I will pull the entrance reducer in the am. I hope they can adequately defend the hive! Should I put a strip of duct tape across the two slots at the rear for the screen and board?

I specifically purchased the SBB’s for monitoring mites and defeating any SHB. I thought the possibility of opening up for a little added ventilation was a plus if we got some more of those high 90F days like we did last summer.

Thank you for the advice.

I would keep the reducer in so they can defend the entrance and use the duct tape over the slots in the back so the bees do not have access. They will figure out where the front entrance is pretty quickly.

G’day Harris, I’m of the belief that added ventilation will work against the bees during those high 90deg. days.

Think of a fully functioning beehive as a well oiled machine. During hot weather the bees are using water & a combined effort to air condition their hive. This is best achieved with only one opening. Think of our homes. Do we have large openings while our air conditioners are running? No, we close the windows & doors. Think of a sbb as a large open window that’s letting lots of hot air in, working against the bees.

I wouldn’t wait for the sbb to deteriorate, I would get rid of it straight away.

In relation to the entrance, you’ll just have to work out what size entrance works best for you. Not too big, & not too small.

Hi @HTB - thanks for pointing me to this post, it is interesting. I too have SBBs and have read the conflicting opinions from many beeks. I’d be tempted to switch to solid bottoms as @JeffH advises, because he’s extremely experienced & of course the thermodynamic principle holds true. The only variable you & I have to account for is that we have varroa mites here & the SBB causes them to be unable to re-enter the hive once they are groomed off - they drop through the mesh and can’t reach a passing bee to hitch a ride back in.

I have no idea what impact this actually has on overall mite management, but thought it was important to mention since it’s the main purpose of SBBs.

I’m not tossing mine yet because they’re fairly new & cost close to $20 each. But - I don’t lower the coreflute position in hot weather as some would suggest. I leave it in the top position all year round. Last winter I made sure the hive wrap covered up the opening across. Maybe I will also cover it with something now…


I don’t believe enough mites fall through the screen to affect the mite load of a colony.

I’ve observed that the cons far outweigh the pros.

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Early afternoon today I added some more syrup, (found some drowned bees), put some masking tape over the slots of the SBB, and removed the entrance reducers to make sure there was adequate single source ventilation intake, as they are in full sun and we were hitting mid-80’s F today).

Polly hive (plastic top cover :wink:) is the more active hive, and there continued to be some bees hanging about the slots at the rear despite the tape. Tina hive (standard flat metal covered top cover :wink:) is the smaller hive and they practically ceased hanging about the rear slots.

Also set up a water tray filled with gravel to supplement the nearby streams in case they haven’t found them; in any event the water tray is just 10 feet from the hives.

Appreciate everyone’s advice!

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I am in Alabama USA and our temps are HOT, already in upper 80"s at the first of May. My hive had Hive Beetle issue and had a lot of larvae. When I installed my first package of bees, I had put my white board on top of the wire bottom board screen and literally had to remove it this past Saturday and manually remove all the beetle worm larvae, carcasses and normal hive debris. Since I removed it, my hive seems to be doing much better. I also ordered some nematodes to put into the ground near my hives to naturally combat the hive beetles as recommended by my bee club and state representative that I spoke with. So I am wondering how you keep your hive closed up with the only opening the entrance and have no other pest issues? Am I doing something wrong? Or is it just where I live? I am trying to help my packaged bees get moving and grow strong but they literally uncapped and discarded contaminated brood and bee larvae. I was so worried about them I had my husband hold up the brood box and I totally cleaned up the bottom and discarded everything away from the hive and so far all seems well.

You need to look at the video, “City Of Bees” a few times & pay particular attention to the air conditioning part of the video. Once you obtain an understanding of “bee culture” & why bees do certain things, it will all become clear as to how I manage my bees with only the entrance opening. We get very hot weather here also. All my hive roofs are painted white for coolness.

If you have a solid floor coupled with a good worker population, you will notice the floor will be kept spotlessly clean. A clean floor, in my view is an indicator of a strong healthy hive.

A strong healthy hive will also not allow SHB to lay any eggs within the hive. That being the case, there will be no need to place nematodes outside the hive.

Your local bee club members & state representative mean well, however you can combat SHB without any traps, nematodes, D.E or poisons.

The best thing you can do for your package bees is give them frames with wax foundation (if you haven’t already done so) to build on. That way, you’ll get a good population of workers.

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Yes, I did start with wax frames. Since we got our packages so late (April 1) I didn’t want them to have to work so hard. I have the traps in the hive and today it seems better. I am not sure why I had the problem that I did. Thanks for the link I will watch the video. Any other help you may have please let me know and I will gladly accept the help. Thank you :slight_smile:
~~Lori Peters ~~

Hi Lori, you are most welcome. I’m not sure if my climate is similar to yours. We are nearly 27 deg.S. If it is, that means that what works for me, should work for you also.

That video is really worth watching. Another one is “Nova, Tales Of a Hive”.