Author Topic: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives  (Read 16796 times)

Offline Saint-TyR

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #120 on: October 24, 2012, 07:00:46 PM »
Hello,

I am new to beekeeping or should I say in the first stage of learning the trade. I live in New Hampshire and I ran across a report about top bar hives not being productive or sustainable in the northern climate (see below). Most individuals are suggesting that we go with the Langstroth hives for the ease and well being of the colony. What is interesting is that there are many beekeepers teaching the use of the top bar hive like Christy Hemenway of Gold Star Honeybees.

So my question is... Has anyone in the northeast or in wicked cold climates have troubles with the top bar hives? If so did you go back to the langstroth hive or just keep trying?

I know there are several factors wrong with the report which makes me believe that the Top Bar hive should be studied again by the state.

Thank you for your thoughts and advice.
http://www.nhbeekeepers.org/Top%20Bar%20Final%20Report.pdf
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Offline kgb

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #121 on: October 26, 2012, 12:39:02 AM »
My neighbor and I both use langstroth hives so I have no input on top bar, but ours do fine in the winter.
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Offline microdevil45

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #122 on: November 02, 2012, 10:37:21 AM »
Subscribing... Good stuff




Offline cdhm22

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #123 on: November 05, 2012, 10:22:01 PM »
Hello,

I am new to beekeeping or should I say in the first stage of learning the trade. I live in New Hampshire and I ran across a report about top bar hives not being productive or sustainable in the northern climate (see below). Most individuals are suggesting that we go with the Langstroth hives for the ease and well being of the colony. What is interesting is that there are many beekeepers teaching the use of the top bar hive like Christy Hemenway of Gold Star Honeybees.

So my question is... Has anyone in the northeast or in wicked cold climates have troubles with the top bar hives? If so did you go back to the langstroth hive or just keep trying?

I know there are several factors wrong with the report which makes me believe that the Top Bar hive should be studied again by the state.

Thank you for your thoughts and advice.
http://www.nhbeekeepers.org/Top%20Bar%20Final%20Report.pdf

About all I would agree to after reading that article is that they need to try another study. Hopefully one that would have a direct comparison to Langstroth hive with experienced and inexperienced bed keepers of both categories trying both hives. That is a horrible design of experiment with foreseeable horrible results and conclusions.

Offline Bee man

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #124 on: November 10, 2012, 07:22:31 PM »
Well I would have to say this study says it all. They got the bees late. They had a very dry summer. There were so many things wrong that the bees didn't have a chance. I also notice that there were no Langstroth hives used for comparison. I'm not saying that Langstroth hives are a tool of the devil but I will say this, I have made this deal with my customers in the past. If a customer would buy one of my hives and allow me to instruct them through the first summer/winter and do exactly as I instructed them that I would refund the price of the hive if the bees died before the following spring. I can honestly say that I never had to make good on that offer.
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Offline CharlesH

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #125 on: November 12, 2012, 06:24:52 PM »
I'm hoping to get back into bee keeping this spring and thought about putting in two top bar and two Langstroth hives on my 50 acres.  I already own extraction equipment for Langstroth hives from a few years ago before I ended up in a National Guard revolving deployment program...  I'm intrigued by the top bar however, because I've heard I'll get more wax from them than the cappings off a langstroth.  Is this true and if so under what circumstances?  How difficult is it to keep brood out of frames you are harvesting?  Is harvesting done by simply smashing and pressing out comb?  If so do you just gravity drain off the honey from the wax through a strainer?  Thanks.  Charles
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Offline Bee man

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #126 on: November 13, 2012, 02:49:11 PM »
Hi Charles,
 I'm happy to hear that you are considering top bar hives. I will be happy to help you any way that I can if you just let me know what you need. You will get more wax from the top bar hive. The reason for this is that in order to harvest the honey you must remove the entire come and crush and strain. This is actually healthier for the bees because it forces them to build new honey comb each year. By building new comb they reduce the size of the cells each time till they get them back to the size that nature intended them to build in the first place. The comb is simply cut from the bar and crushed then gravity strained into a container. When the bees are first installed in the hive the queen will decide where she wants the brood nest. This brood nest will stay in the same part of the hive once established. You can even remove most of the brood comb early each spring. By doing this we cause them to build new brood comb each year which will again cause them to build smaller cells. By building smaller cells you will see a noticeable reduction in the Varroa mite population. You will find that by just letting the bees do what they are genetically programmed to do you will hardly ever see brood in the actual honey comb. I hope this helps. Please feel free to ask as many questions as you like. 
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Offline CharlesH

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #127 on: November 14, 2012, 02:52:22 PM »
Thanks Bee Man,  Excellent info!  How about propalis (I'm probably spelling that wrong...) between the bars?  I saw someone complaining once that bees seem to really stick the bars together in a top bar hive.  I'll probably end up with Italian Bees and they tend to be propalis maniacs anyway as I recall.
 
A couple more questions:  I'll be buying 3lb bee packages.  Do I just dump them in a top bar cavity?
 
You mentioned the ability to remove brood bars in the spring to get bees to rebuild the cells.  Have you harvested wax from a brood cell?  How did it look?
 
I presume the queen will have to move with the cluster through the honey during the winter.  Does she really go back to the brood section to start laying again or will she lay wherever she happens to be in the spring?
 
I like what you said about reducing the varroa mite population with these.  Do you have the same type of success with honey beetles and other mites?
 
Do you do any adjunct feeding or medicating your TBHs beyond the initial start-up phase?
 
I'm still not completely seeing in my head how the harvesting works, do you just slice the cell off the bars into a bucket and smash it down then strain it?  What do you use for the straining?
 
I'd better stop.  Hope this wasn't too many questions, but I'm eager to learn more about these.  Like I said my thought was to get two of these and two langstroth for the spring.  I've got 30 acres at one location where the house is and 20 more acres just a 1/4 mile away.  We do grass fed beef and all the land is in either hay (with no chemicals on it) or woods.  The predominant legumes on our fields are trefoil and clover and I know the beens will love those.
 
  Charles
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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #128 on: November 14, 2012, 09:25:50 PM »
You will get lots of propalis. As for the 3 lb packages, I like the brood nest in the front of the hive so try this. Remove the front five bars and just dump them in. Replace the bars and suspend the queen cage between the second and third bar. This will cause the queen to build the brood nest in the front of the hive.
 If you remove the brood bars and cut along the bottom of the bar removing all of the comb from the bar the bees will rebuild the brood nest with smaller cells which is what we want. The wax from the brood nest is a little harder to process because it has fibers in it. If you melt the brood wax and skim the top off you will remove most of this fiber and the remaining wax is good.
 The queen will go back to the brood area each spring. Yes I have had great success with beetles as well as the mites. The whole idea behind my hive design is this, the hive is built in such a way that it causes much less stress for the bees. The bees are happier and healthier. Happy and healthy bees are more able to defend the hive against all intruders. It's a very simple idea and it works but for some reason most people just don't get it.
 I feed the bees one or two quarts of sugar water when I first install them and thats it. I do not medicate at all. I put NO chemicals at all in my hives.
 To harvest you simply cut the honey comb off the bar and crush it then strain it through cheese cloth or fine screen wire. Ask as many questions as you like. I started this thread to help people understand top bar hives.
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Offline CharlesH

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #129 on: November 15, 2012, 05:19:35 PM »
Very interesting.  OK, next questions...  How big a problem is the propalis in getting the bars out?  How do you deal with it.  I had no idea that brood wax is different from honey wax.  Is that from the way it is produced or from the brood cappings?  Good to know how to process it. 
 
  How many brood bars with wax on do you leave in the fall?  For that matter, how many bars of honey do you leave for them and how many do you expect to harvest from a year two hive?
 
  Is there any difference in the hive's tendancy to swarm?  Have you had TBH's for long enough to go through a queen?  Do you buy replacement queens or let nature take it's course in the hive?
 
  What kind of feeder do you use for the sugar water?  Any special winter preperations you do?  How often do you open the hive?
 
  Great info.  You're talking me back into going with two of these and two langstroth hives next spring.  As I said I have a langstroth honey extractor which I want to keep using.  Plus the combination of the two types may give me the best of both worlds in honey and wax production.
 
  Charles
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Offline Bee man

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #130 on: November 15, 2012, 06:33:55 PM »
Getting the bars out is no problem at all. I have never bought a top bar hive or built a hive from someone else's plans so I can't tell you much about other top bar hives. I have spent the last seven y ears or so developing my own hive design so that's all I can tell you about. In my hive I will usually have at least one bar at one end of the hive or the other that has no comb on it. This bar will have comb later in the season. If you inspect the hive at least once a week you will know where the empty bars are. Simply remove one or two empty bars first then using a flat blade screwdriver or pocket knife ( I use a special tool that I make for this ) separate the other bars one at a time. Work from the opening that you created by removing the empty bars. Separate the next bar in line, pick it up and inspect it then place it back in the hive. You can move it into the opening created by removing the empty bars. Very Important!!!!! Make sure that you replace each bar just as it came out of the hive. I like to number the bars on top this way I know that I have them in the correct place and that I didn't get one turned backwards. As you replace the bars they are simply pushed back together and they seal pretty well.
 The brood capping's are different than honey capping's. If you will notice the brood cap has more of a brown color while the honey cap is white or clear. The brood caps will have a fiber in them almost like some type of cocoon. I don't remove any brood comb till early spring. Honey is harvest is something that you can and will get many conflicting answers on. All I can tell you is that it will depend on a number of things. How big the hive is, how good was the flow that summer, what kind of bees do you have, how strong is the colony, where you are located in the United States and a number of other things. You will not get as much honey from the top bar hive as you will from the Langstroth hive. What you will get is healthy and happy bees. I can promise you this, if you set up a Langstroth hive along side a top bar hive and put a three pound package in each at the same time and work in each hive the same amount you will see a huge difference in the attitude of the bees in each hive. The bees in the top bar hive will be much less aggressive and easier to work with.
  Here I am getting long winded, sorry about that. Swarming, again it will depend on the size of the hive and a few other factors. I use a 20 bar hive and I really don't see that they swarm any more than a Lang hive does. I just let nature run it's course as for as queens go. I will replace a queen if I have one that dies or if I have one that is not doing her job.
  I use my own style of feeder that I have developed for my hives. The feeder goes inside the hive and replaces three of the bars.   
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Offline heliotropicmoth

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #131 on: November 27, 2012, 08:34:49 AM »
So I had a major set back - disaster.



I didn't realize my bees abandoned the hive. I checked them almost daily and always saw bees coming and going. Little did I know the hive was being robbed by other bees and the comb got completely infested with wax moth larvae.



I hope the colonies I get in the spring will do better and thrive so they can fight back the wax moths.

Offline archer

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #132 on: November 28, 2012, 07:21:11 PM »
i hate wax moths, cut out the bad parts, and freeze the rest to kill the little bastards.


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Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #133 on: December 06, 2012, 10:06:43 AM »
Bee Man, what style top bars are you using?  We know it's not just a groove cut and filled with wax, but I don't see any details mentioned through the thread.

Thanks
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Offline Bee man

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #134 on: December 06, 2012, 06:38:34 PM »
Hi fritz,
 I have not posted any specific details about my bar design because as far as I know I am the only one that has stumbled onto this particular design. It is a wedge type bar with a very specific angle which took me almost five years to figure out. I also add another small feature to the bar which makes more difference than the angle.
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Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #135 on: December 06, 2012, 06:57:35 PM »
That's fine.  I understand the trade secret thing.  After all, that's what makes the design yours.

Heliotropicmoth, so all that damage in there is from wax moths?  The web like stuff, is that created by the moths?
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Offline Bee man

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #136 on: December 06, 2012, 08:05:08 PM »
Wax moths are nasty little critters. I have had my share of trouble with them also. Sorry that you lost a hive to them.
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Offline archer

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #137 on: December 06, 2012, 10:36:14 PM »
Heliotropicmoth, so all that damage in there is from wax moths?  The web like stuff, is that created by the moths?
the web stuff is from the damn grubs that are part of the wax moth life cycle... they really make a mess of the comb.


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Offline heliotropicmoth

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #138 on: December 07, 2012, 07:57:29 AM »
Yeah the "web stuff" is basically the wax moth larvae's cocoon. I have ordered two more bee packages for the spring. I plan on changing my top bars before I install the new bees. I will be making top bars with wedges instead of the groove filled with wax.

Offline cdhm22

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #139 on: December 07, 2012, 08:59:45 AM »
I was listening to Phil chandler's podcast the other day and he said he has had better luck using 1/2" round pinned to the bottom of the bars over the design in his book of the groove in the bottom with wax. Annoyed he wouldn't update the book with that piece of information. Anyone tried that?

Offline halh

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #140 on: December 08, 2012, 01:36:47 AM »
Hi fritz,
 I have not posted any specific details about my bar design because as far as I know I am the only one that has stumbled onto this particular design. It is a wedge type bar with a very specific angle which took me almost five years to figure out. I also add another small feature to the bar which makes more difference than the angle.

Do you have a web site available?
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Offline Bee man

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #141 on: December 08, 2012, 09:51:58 AM »
Hi halh,
I am in the process of building a new site. As soon as I get it up and running I will post a link here and can even send it to you in a PM if you like. Is there something specific that I can help you with until then? I will be happy to help anyone in any way that I can.
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Offline halh

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #142 on: December 09, 2012, 12:01:35 AM »
Hi halh,
I am in the process of building a new site. As soon as I get it up and running I will post a link here and can even send it to you in a PM if you like. Is there something specific that I can help you with until then? I will be happy to help anyone in any way that I can.

Hello Bee man...
nothing specific at this time, was hoping to check out what you have going on. I am very interested in the top bar hives, kept bees long ago in standard hives, but I am always looking for better ways to do things.
H
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Offline Bee man

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #143 on: December 18, 2012, 09:26:02 PM »
Hi folks,
 Sorry that I have been neglecting you guys here. I have been spending most of my free time ( free time? what the heck is that? ) working on my site. Trying to get it up and going so that I can help as many people as possible.
Thank you all for allowing me to become part of your community. This is a great site!
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Offline Bee man

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #144 on: December 25, 2012, 05:26:46 PM »
Merry Christmas everyone!!!
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Offline Bee man

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #145 on: January 12, 2013, 11:42:25 AM »
Hello again folks,
  Well it's January already and if you are thinking about starting a hive this is the time to start some serious planning. You should already have your order in for bees from your local supplier or if you don't you should be getting in contact with them now. Next you should be making plans for the location of the new hive. Place it in a low traffic area of your property with the front facing the morning sun. Remember that you should raise the hive to a comfortable working height so that you won't need to bend over when working in it. Next you should be building or buying your hive so that you have it ready for the bees in the spring. It's time to get things going people.
More later.
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Offline Bee man

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #146 on: January 12, 2013, 12:56:42 PM »
First let me say to the admins of this site, THANK YOU!!!! You guys have been great and have welcomed me into your family here. Next, I hope that I am not breaking any rules by posting this, if so please remove it.
 I have been contacted by many people here with concerns about how complicated it is to use top bar hives. I have been looking at a few of the other sites and have come to the conclusion that everyone else must be using a different style of hive than I am.  ??? No not really but it is shocking to me that most all sites and books make it sound so complicated.
  Because of this I have decided to take a drastic step to try and help any and all who really want to learn. I will be building a new site for this and would like to invite anyone looking for honest information about top bar hives to drop by. I would also like to ask any of you that have bees already to submit photos to me to be used on the site. Any photos used will be labeled with your name and any other information that you want listed with them.
  Building the site may be a slow process for me depending on my work load and the amount of free time that I have. It will be an ongoing process and may never be finished as I will continue to update the site as new information becomes available through my own research. I will set up a forum also and anyone who would like to join now and watch the site grow (and even contribute if you like) are welcome. This site will be for you so feel free to offer suggestions and ideas.
  I will continue to monitor the thread here and post as time allows but I will focus mainly on the new site. I will also continue to look for all of my survival information here. This is one AWESOME site!!!

Thank you all.
Bee man


edit to remove TOS violation
« Last Edit: January 13, 2013, 07:49:08 AM by fritz_monroe »
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Offline SKL

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #147 on: January 13, 2013, 02:00:40 PM »
I'm not even a beekeeper, just one collecting information and in wait-and-see mode.
How much land should one have to keep bees? I'm on 3/4 acre but with some residential, some farm fields, and some woods around.
And also, I have a dog who might be inclined to bother the bees. Is that something that would keep the bees too riled up?

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #148 on: January 13, 2013, 02:15:19 PM »
Hi SKL,
 If you have an out of the way corner of your yard or property then you have room. You would want to place the hive away from human activity more for your sake rather than the bees. As for the dog, trust me he will learn soon enough to keep his distance. ;D
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Offline SKL

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Re: Beginner beekeeping in top bar hives
« Reply #149 on: January 14, 2013, 06:32:46 PM »
Okay, thanks Bee Man. I'll keep watching this thread for more info. It's been very interesting and helpful.