Now that the fall is upon us, the threat of mice in the hive is a real one. Each fall, as the days grow colder and food is a little harder to find, some field mice decide it’s worth checking out a bee hive. The trick of course, from a mouse’s perspective, is venturing into the hive late enough in the season where the bees are more worried about freezing to death that killing an intruder. For those that are not stung to death, the hive is warm, full of food, and represents a cushy existence over the winter.
So every beekeeper knows, you need to seal up the bottom entrance of your hive (a good excuse for having a top entrance) with a metal mouse guard. Wood, it turns out, is easily chewed through by a mouse who is sure that golden honey awaits him on the other side. So the metal guard goes over the entrance in the beginning of the fall – just in case – to keep the little creatures out. At only a few bucks each, I got two mouse guards from Brushy Mountain, and as you can see from the picture, one is now on the hive.
The tricky part with these, at least for a new beek like me, is how to fit them on the hive. For some strange reason, they are built slightly smaller than they should be, so they are not an exact fit on a standard size entrance. And then, since they are not a snug fit, they need to be secured to the hive as a predator could just brush it away with a claw. For all you new beeks out there, I took a small sheet-rock screwed and secured the mouse guard to the landing deck of the hive. And yes, I used a power drill/driver as I was messing with the bee’s entrance, and I wanted to get the job done as fast as possible to avoid them mounting an attack.
Now I think this should keep out the mice, but let me remind you that some of them are small, and come winter all of them are hungry, so there is no such thing as “mouse proof”. Given the right set of circumstances, they will get in. I’m just hoping to make it really, really difficult for them.