Maintaining a Lang like a TBH?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Skyhigh, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. Skyhigh

    Skyhigh New Member

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    I'm new to beekeeping, haven't actually gotten my bees yet, and have a Lang setup. However, I've been reading everything and am fascinated by the method used in maintaining TBHs. I'm not necessarily interested in using frameless bars. (Not necessarily not interested either.) But what fascinates me is the slow, continual maintenance of a TBH. Pullling one or two bars/frames of honey at a time rather than a full super. I sense that this method would aid in my becoming more and more comfortable with bees as well as providing more opportunities to learn about them (and make the whole raising bees/honey process seem less daunting). I'm also hoping that here in south Florida, that there might be a regular (on again and off again) flow of honey production throughout the year. Also, my daughter, who is doing this with me, had her first taste of comb honey two months ago and has decided it's her favorite candy of all time. So she'd like to go foundationless. I'm good with that. I'm also good with not having to invest in extraction equipment just yet.

    That said, I have 2 questions (at this moment). Since I have Langstroth boxes, which I will use:
    1) is it easy to go foundationless? Even when starting with a nuc that uses foundation? And, if so, is there somewhere I can read up on this? And,
    2) is there a method that has been used to maintain a Langstroth box, somewhat like one does with a long, TBH? Moving the combs, harvesting one or two at a time, etc.? And, if so, is there somewhere I can read up on this also?

    Thank you!

    Paula
     
  2. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I would suggest that for most folks starting out that they should begin with a Langstroth hive and then attempt a top bar hive. Once established it is fairly straight forward to remove bee resources from the Langstroth hive and create a top bar hive.

    I am not certain of the details you have read in regards to 'maintaining' a top bar hive but it sounds to me like you enjoy the idea of removing comb honey without all the extraction equipment generally though to be required of traditional bee keeping??? You can produce exactly the same product by using unwired plain foundation (generally in shallow depth frames). I use these for producing chunk/comb honey. I cut this out with a warm knife and place it in jars with extracted honey... it is quite popular with the hispanic folks.

    Going foundationless in a langstroth hive is another matter and certainly is possible but I suspect much more capable of going south on you than most folks writing about such stuff may be willing to admit. Going foundationless also requires considerable more time (since 'the girls' have to manufacture their own wax). There is of course nothing improper about removing small quantities (ie one frame) at a time vs a whole box of honey at a time. Starting out like you are in most places removing one or two frames is likely good policy in year one (while the hives is establishing itself).

    There is a lot of written material out there in regards to honey and bees. One author I have always enjoyed is Richard Taylor (a New England bee keeper and professor of philosophy). He harvest all of his honey crop with nothing more than a knife. He wrote several books and had a regular column in one of the bee journals.... his 'The Joy of Beekeeping' (I think that is right) is a glimpse of one year in the life of a New England bee keeper.
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Ditto what Tecumseh said. I often harvest one frame from a langstroth hive. Nothing wrong with that. Foundationless is best done by the experienced beekeeper. There will be adjustments along the way that a new beek won't see in the early stages.

    A TBH is even more critical in needing adjustments made as they happen, as they just get harder to make as time goes along. The combs are built out of sequence and the longer it is before correcting, the bigger the mess and the bigger the loss of comb, honey, and brood.

    Try the lang for a couple years, then add a TBH if you still want one.
     
  4. Skyhigh

    Skyhigh New Member

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    Thank you both for your responses. I'm definitely going with the Langstroth. As per your comments, I'll put frames with foundation into the brood box(es). Having it already, along with what you've posted, makes me feel that I should just do what is known to work before I try alternatives. (It's all heavily prewaxed, so I'm thinking some of the issues I've read others had with foundation might be avoided.)

    And, thank you for saying it's okay to harvest single frames! Everywhere I've read, while this is the recommended method for long TBHs, whenever it's mentioned in regards to Langs, it sounds like it is rarely done and not really recommended. (And has probably been the biggest draw of the TBHs for me right now. Slow and steady...a little at a time...lol...it makes beekeeping overall feel somewhat less daunting!)

    As for "unwired, plain foundation" is this the same as the "Cut Comb" or "thin surplus" foundation (Dadant)? My setup doesn't include supers, so I'm in the process of ordering a few things that I feel I will want/need, including those. I'd thought of going with mediums, but maybe I'll use shallows instead. Lighter for my daughter and I to lift, anyway. (Does the size of the super really matter?)

    And @tecumseh, I will definitely look for that book. I have access to a university library as well as the public, so I can generally find most things. Thanks!
     
  5. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Non-wired foundation can be found in all sizes, but the larger ones are more scarce then the smaller ones. For a lady and her daughter, with 1 to 5 hives, not extracting, I would recommend shallow supers. Each comb can be cut to fit tupperware sandwich boxes with very little waste, for comb honey. It can also be cut to fit jars for chunk honey as Tec described.
     
  6. Skyhigh

    Skyhigh New Member

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    Sounds perfect. And nice about the tupperware sandwich boxes. :D (Now scribbling "shallows...")
     
  7. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    cut comb or thin surplus is not the same as ordinary (unwired, plain jane) foundation. cut comb and thin surplus foundation given it's thin'nest can provide it's own problems (likely compounded by a new bee keeper inexperience). I would just stick with standard thickness foundation and avoid those problems.

    >this is in regards to how you handle frames< I would suggest you wire or use plastic foundation or rippled wired foundation for everything in the brood nest (generally bottom of stack). given your location you will still need to handle the unwired 'surplus honey' frames (most generally at the top of the stack) more like the frames of a top bar hive. that is, you will need to be careful (the higher the temperature the more so) to hold these frames by the 'ears' of the frame and not flip the frames or the comb can (will) fall out at your feet.

    for most folks the weight of a plugged out hive body can matter greatly. mediums or shallows is a good way to go.
     
  8. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

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  9. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

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    tec:
    I tried to cut out just a snip of your post, but ain't figured out how to do that yet.
    When you use plain wax foundation, do you cut it out and put it in with your comb/chunk honey, or separate it?
     
  10. Americasbeekeeper

    Americasbeekeeper New Member

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    Paula, it is easier for a beginner to use foundation the first year. Thin foundation in a shallow super is fine, even in the Florida sun. You are cutting it out and not extracting so there are no real challenges.
    Hive management, whether Langstroth, Warre' or TBH gets too much prejudiced press. Management style can be the same for any hive design or different for the same design. At USF the August workshop is honey extraction. We pulled one or two frames from every hive.
    You can also scrape the comb off plastic foundation or cut it out of the frame, crush it and strain it with nothing more than what is already in your kitchen.
    The bees gather nectar pretty much year-round in Florida. Brazilian Pepper, blooming now, is pretty sharp or bitter for human consumption. The bees love it and it is best left for them to eat over the Winter. You can find the honey flows in Florida by region in Melitto Files http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/honeybee/exte ... itto.shtml
    If you are ever up in Tampa there are bee workshops the third Saturday of every month at the USF Botanical Gardens. We have top bar and Langstroth teaching hives, about 40 total.
     
  11. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    gunsmith writes:
    When you use plain wax foundation, do you cut it out and put it in with your comb/chunk honey, or separate it?

    tecumseh:
    the plain (unsupported) stuff is for cutting out and placing in jars. most old school folks call this 'chunk honey'... ie you put a chunk in the jar and then fill the remainder of the jar with extracted honey.

    americanbeekeeper writes:
    Thin foundation in a shallow super is fine, even in the Florida sun. You are cutting it out and not extracting so there are no real challenges.

    tecumseh:
    first off most folks will find out that just in getting the super thin 'thin surplus' foundation into the frames a frustrating task. once you get it into the frame getting it drawn and filled without collapsing is hair pulling task number two. my prior comments in regards to reinforcing or supporting the foundation in the lower part of the box is more in regards to inspection of the frames within the brood box and not in taking off a honey crop. once you do have honey in frames with no supported frames you will have to treat these as gentle as eggs. the higher the temperature the more fragile these will become.
     
  12. Skyhigh

    Skyhigh New Member

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    Very interesting and much to think about! I am very glad I asked this question. For my first year(s) in beekeeping, I want this to be as positive and as successful an endeavor as I can make it (for both myself and my daughter.) Your comments are helping me cull out the ideas that sound fascinating but (now I know will be) trickier. Also, questions that I haven't asked (yet) were inadvertently answered. Nice!

    So, here are my latest plans:
    Brood box: Regular sized brood box with wax coated plastic foundation (because I have all these, so this will be the size I'll use. I think I would prefer mediums, and maybe in the future will switch. Somehow. LOL)
    Supers: Shallow supers with a combination of regular, wax coated plastic foundation and very thin wax foundation (I'll buy a set of 10 of each.) That way if the very thin frustrates me, I'll have the plastic to fall back on. (Will the bees mind two different kind of foundation in one box?)
    Feeding:I have a jar style top feeder (a hole in a board and a jar cap with holes all punched it it) but was thinking I'd get a Goble Inner Cover (from BushyMountain) and cut two holes in it for the feeder jar lids and then use a medium super over this. In reading about ventilation I thought I would make holes on three of the sides (not in front), cover those with screening, then top all with a telescoping lid. (To challenge the opossum that frequents my garden.) My major concern about this is the rain we have. It is heavy, hard, and comes from all angles. Will it get in the hive through the screens? If it does, will it kill/harm the bees? Or, the little that does, will this be a problem? The board with a hole that I currently have is a heavy, pressed, coated particle board that juts out a couple inches past the front (or back) of the hive. I suppose even when I'm not feeding I would have to leave a jar attached to the lid in order to keep it water tight...? (I'm also looking to make this as aesthetically pleasing as possible, so I'm not keen on this current setup even if it is perfectly good. :roll: )

    How does this sound? I'm planning on ordering either today or tomorrow.

    Thank you all!
     
  13. Skyhigh

    Skyhigh New Member

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    So good to know. In reading everything, it really was coming across as if each had to be treated differently. So, I can take the methods I like from TBHs and apply them (thoughtfully, of course) toward the Langs and visa versa. I’m thinking this confusion is probably a result of the proponents of each being so knowledgeable in beekeeping, that they are stressing the unique capabilities of each style hive rather than giving technique generalities. As someone just learning, I guess I was missing the basic point.

    In reading this I thought, "I can?! Why isn't this said ANYWHERE?" :confused: So, now knowing this, do I basically just take a scraper of some kind (like a paint scraper?), scrape as much of the comb into a bowl (do the crush and strain) and then just return the dripping, sticky frame to the bees? Except, if I go with the plan of taking a frame or two (or more) at a time from the super, as opposed to harvesting an entire super, I'll have replaced the pulled frames from the super with others. Now I have several sticky, dripping frames and what do I do with them? I am positive there is a "duh" kind of answer to this, but I'm not at that point yet. :oops:

    Well, if I get more than a couple frames of Brazillian pepper honey, I am sure I'll have to harvest one. I mean, what if I'm one of those strange people that love it? :lol: (Thank you for the link!)

    We are already making plans to fit a trip up to Tampa for at least one of the classes! (As I am homeschooling her, we try to take advantage of as many of the opportunities presented to us as we can. This fits perfectly with both our personal and educational goals!) If I can't find the information online as to what, where, time, etc., I'll send you an email/message. Thanks!
     
  14. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    "I'll have replaced the pulled frames from the super with others"

    Why? It only takes a few minutes to carry a frame or two in the house, scrape, and return it to the hive. Being out of the hive 30 minutes won't hurt a thing.
     
  15. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

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    Sky:
    Sounds like you're getting it all together.
    Are you doing 8 or 10 frame langs?
    In Fla., you should be able to get away with mediums for brood boxes, but if you have deeps, use them.
    For ventilation, I bore holes in the front of the boxes, just below the top cover. Tilt your boxes slightly with the front side down, you don't have to worry about the rain getting in through the ventilation holes, or through the entrance at the bottom board. What little rain does get in, will drain out with the boxes tilted. Just tilt SLIGHTLY.
    Good luck, and keep us posted on your progress.
     
  16. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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  17. Skyhigh

    Skyhigh New Member

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    :lol: See? I knew it was going to be a "duh" kind of thing! I see the benefit of this, too. No dealing with sticky, sweet frames. :thumbsup:

    Great! Thank you! (I really hope I am "getting it all together"! lol)
     
  18. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    My own take on a few things-

    If I eat comb/chunk honey, I often chew and swallow some of the wax or it gets embedded on my toast. I don't want to be eating commercial pressed wax foundation- it's been shown to have higher accumulated chemicals and pesticide residues than most newly-made wax.
    Instead, I would use foundationless frames with some sort of comb guides in my medium or shallow honey supers. Once they get a few frames started straight, the rest seem to follow the same direction- if you keep an eye on them at first!

    For the brood chamber it matters less and I would use whatever foundation or non-foundation you want if you don't plan on removing honey from the brood boxes for eating. I want to keep my brood boxes just for the bees' use, not for taking honey from.

    Note- bees don't build comb at the same rate all year long. Fastest comb building happens in the spring, and even faster in a 5 frame Spring nuc that will fill frame after frame with nice new comb for you if you methodically drop in new ones every time they start to get crowded. Just be careful not to damage or remove the queen by accident. You can make up and keep a nuc as a kind of supply donor for comb, brood, and eggs, all through Spring and early summer. You can take frames with fresh eggs from that nuc to give to other colonies whenever you need a new queen to be made somewhere, or a frame of brood to boost another hive too.

    Note- you oughtn't to be feeding your bees all the time- You don't want to be harvesting and eating evaporated and capped sugar syrup thinking it's 'honey'....it's not honey. Don't 'open feed' syrup during times when your neighboring beekeepers might have their honey supers on- you'd be contaminating their honey with syrup as well. Keep in mind all the bees and hives within a 4 mile radius of you.
     
  19. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    ""If I eat comb/chunk honey, I often chew and swallow some of the wax or it gets embedded on my toast. I don't want to be eating commercial pressed wax foundation- it's been shown to have higher accumulated chemicals and pesticide residues than most newly-made wax.""

    Although what you say is true, my guess is that you would get less contaminates from the foundation wax you eat in a year than you would breathe in while walking down a city block on a normal business day.

    I would not be concerned about it.
     
  20. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Well just avoid the most dangerous thing of all- don't be chewing on commercial sheet foundation wax while walking down any city blocks on a normal business day....you might be taken for a country hick from out of town and get mugged!
    [​IMG]