New to beekeeping and starting with top bar hives

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by cyburham, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. cyburham

    cyburham New Member

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    I just bought a top bar hive and the beekeeping for dummies book as well as just trying to find articles online. I have my bee's ordered for spring, my hive setup and beeswax applied. Now I need to know the steps to install the bees and manage the hive. Where can I find a book or website with instructions for starting and maintaining a hive? The dummies book has nothing on top bar hives.

    There is also a person selling 3 more top bar hives and a 7 bar nuc hive which I am thinking of buying. HIs company has relocated him out of state and he needs them moved as his property has been sold.

    One is a first year hive has 28 bars, and is populated by Minnesota Hygenics. Seller says it is very strong.

    Second has 32 bars. It is populated with Italian bees, and is over two years old.

    3rd has 28 bars but is empty.
    The nucleus hive is empty and has 7 bars.
    The two empty hives are newly built and have never had bees. He was going to start them this spring until he was transfered.

    If I buy these hives what do I need to know to get them through winter? How much honey stores or feeder sugar do I need. If I need feeder where do I place it in a top bar hive? I am in Lake Shore Utah which gets cold in the winter. It will start to freeze soon and there are many nights in the 20's and even a few below zero each year. Do I put any type of cover over the hive to help keep it warm in winter?

    Any help would be appreciated. The seller says I really don't need to do anything with the 2 established hives but I want to be sure. I plan on installing bees bought from a nearby beekeeper in the empty hives in the spring. I am already on his list.
     
  2. cyburham

    cyburham New Member

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    I forgot to mention. I am going to look at these hives on Saturday. Any suggestions on what to look for would also be appreciated. I thought I had until spring to figure all this out but the top bar hives for sale seem like a great way to get a headstart.
     

  3. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    first off Welcome to the Forum. Not trying to sound negative but personally I would say they would have to be cheap. I wouldnt give much over the price of what equipment you are getting. There is a chance that is what you may end up with come spring. A good stong hive will bring 2 to 3 times the money in the spring than in the fall. Overwintering bees is one of the hardest things to do concerning beekeeping. Especially to a beginner. They may very well make it through and be good to go in the spring. Its a crap shoot and only time will tell.
     
  4. cyburham

    cyburham New Member

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    Yes I know I am taking a chance and they are cheap or I would have just wait till spring. We can plug the hives and move the two with bees at night. Suggestions for helping them to make it through winter or what to look for as far as honey stores etc would be greatly appreciated. If nothing else It will be a good learning experience.
     
  5. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    first off I have no experience with top bar hives but here goes anyway...

    and at this time of year weather is an issue both in looking inside and in moving. looking inside limits any observation in regards to health and moving would have to be extremely gently (wax cracks like glass in very cold weather).

    the best I could suggest to you is you would want the hive to feel like a block of lead... pick up or tilt the empty unit and then the live hives to get some idea of weight. a baggie feeder (zip lock freezer bag and punched with a fork) set into the empty space in the TBH would be one method of feeding.

    'covering' I don't know.

    to 'make sure' may not be entirely reasonable at this time of year.

    welcome to the forum.
     
  6. Walt B

    Walt B New Member

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    Welcome to the forum. :hi:

    You may want to do a "top bar hive" search on Youtube. I just did a quick "look see" and seemed like there was a bunch of information. Don't know how valuable it is, though. Might be of some help.

    Walt
     
  7. Americasbeekeeper

    Americasbeekeeper New Member

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    Top bar hive management is the same as Langstroth and other designs. Bees are bees. The only difference I have noticed in the last few years I have both is pulling and inspecting frames. You cannot tilt or hold a frame any way other than hanging straight down or the comb will tear off, even with plastic foundation starter strip. When it is very hot, over 90 degrees, the comb can be soft enough to tear free even when held vertically, just be gentle. You will need an Italian hive tool or long knife to seperate combs until the bees start doing things your way.
    Suggestion - if you build your own KTBH make the bars 19 inches so you can have your Langstroth hive build comb and even start brood producton.
     
  8. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Sounds like it might be fun to get that guy's hives. He can probably help advise you if you buy then from him.

    I would think at the least you will want to maybe tack down some waterproof insulation layer on the TOP of those hives, then weight it down well against the wind. What you want is to insulate the top surface so that the warmth from the bees won't hit a cold roof and form condensation and then drip cold water down on the bees during the winter. You do NOT want to reduce the air circulation however. You might want to position the hives with a windbreak somehow as well- shrubs or even a temporary burlap or bamboo fence on the cold windy side of the hives for the winter. Make sure the hives get morning sun.

    Aside from here on this forum, I learned an awful lot about beekeeping from Michael Bush's website, which has tons of good ideas: http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm
     
  9. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

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    cyburham:
    Welcome to your new world. You have come to the right place to learn. There are a whole bunch of frienldy folks here with many years of combined experience. Like most other folks here-I have no experience with TBH's, but may try in a year or two-just for the heck of it.

    Omie:
    Did I see in your video from last winter that you have ventilation holes drilled in the tops of your brood boxes?
    I understand that ventilation is important in the winter, but I've been told by a bunch of old-time beeks here (in Ohio) that the little notch in the inner cover is sufficient (provided, of course, that your inner cover has the notch.) And the beekeeper has the sense to leave it open. This will be my first winter-so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
     
  10. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Hi Gunsmith,
    I don't actually have holes drilled in my brood boxes. I do use these ventilated all-season inner covers:
    http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/store/all-season-inner-cover-frame-p-232.html
    They go on top of the hive instead of the usual thin inner cover. Under the usual telescoping outer cover.
    In the warm weather you leave the top empty and there is ample cross ventilation through the side holes. No bees can get inside the space, it's screened. I keep the large center hole screened as well so the bees can't come up from below.
    In the winter, the space you see is filled with a 2" thick insulating foamboard which they provide. This cuts down on condensation in the hive. It also blocks the round side ventilation holes that are so useful in the hot summer.
    It also has the small upper entrance you see in the photo, just like the normal one you'd find in many inner covers. That small entrance is below the plywood 'floor' of the open space, and leads simply right into the hive below.
    I like the concept of these covers- warmer and drier in the winter, cooler in the summer. This will be my second winter with them, hoping for good results. :)

    Cyberham- sorry for the temporary diversion from your thread subject!
     
  11. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

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    cyburham:

    As Omie said, sorry for highjacking your thread.

    It sometimes happens here, but I learn from every post.

    Omie:
    Ah Hah...... Now I understand the method to your madness. Makes a lot of sense. Thanks for your response.
     
  12. cyburham

    cyburham New Member

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    No problem on the highjacking. Anything I can learn is a plus. I did actually buy these. The two top bar hives with bees seem to be doing well so far. We have had a few sunny days and I can see them coming in and out of the hive. The person I bought them from said he left plenty of honey stores for them. Time will tell. I am not opening them so we will see exactly what I have next spring.

    Besides these I have 2 more empty top bar hives that have never been used and a nuc hive that is empty. He used the nuc hive to grow a queen. He also gave me quite a few extra bars. I have 3 that look like old brood nest and quite a few that have had the combs cut off them and also a few with a small amount of comb started. Should I cut off the empty brood nest combs and let them start over or use them when I start the new hive?
     
  13. Americasbeekeeper

    Americasbeekeeper New Member

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    Comb is your most valuable resource. Try to keep it if you can. Keep it in light and fresh air or seal it in a container with paradichlorobenzene moth crystals. Wax moths will make it home and destroy the wax and the wood if not protected.
     
  14. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

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    As ABK said, drawn out comb is like gold to a beekeeper. It takes a lot more groceries for your bees to produce wax and draw out comb than it does to make honey.
     
  15. Zookeep

    Zookeep Active Member

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    welcome Cyb to a great place to hang and learn, not too many TBH users here but Im thinking about starting 1 as well in the spring to keep in my back yard rather then the yard with all the langs, who knows, might be fun.

    you can ask just about anything to do with bees here and some1 will have tried it, knows where to look to read about it, or can tell you why not to do it. lots of good people here :drinks: