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Discussion Starter · #1 ·




I have completed my first Top Bar hive and have some questions.

1) I started this hive with the intention of hopefully catching another swarm this year, and putting it in the Top Bar, but I also have a package coming in April. If I decide to hive the package in the top bar, where do I suspend or place the queen cage?

2) When first installing either a swarm or package, should the follower board be in about the center of the hive? The hive is 4 ft long and the bars are 17â€.

And finally :)
3) My follower board has about a 3/8†gap at the bottom. The sides fit snug. I can eliminate the gap, but thought I might leave it and place a jar of syrup behind the follower board to help build them up. Will the bees see the follower board as the end of the hive with that gap, or will they use the gap to start building comb behind the follower board before filling up the space in front?

Thanks,
Jim
 

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Nice looking pics of the TBH Jim :thumbsup:

Don't know enough about them to offer any advice but I am sure there are some on here who can.
Checking out that lang in the second pic, looking busy! :thumbsup: :mrgreen:
 

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jim314 said:

The easiest is to direct release her. If they have traveled for a few days, they have most likely accepted her (in less a mother queen was shook into the package, in which case leaving her in the cage won't make a difference anyway)
I would probably go less than that. Figure the volume on a deep Langstroth as a starting point.
And finally :)
3) My follower board has about a 3/8†gap at the bottom. The sides fit snug. I can eliminate the gap, but thought I might leave it and place a jar of syrup behind the follower board to help build them up. Will the bees see the follower board as the end of the hive with that gap, or will they use the gap to start building comb behind the follower board before filling up the space in front?
The gap is fine. They will swarm long before the build comb on the other side of the follower board.
 

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I'm not a tbh keeper, but a local breeder here buys 300 to 500 queens each year from Hi. He makes lang nucs and lays the queen cage on the bottom board at center in his nuc boxes, with 4 frames of bees and brood. He says he has nearly 100% success rate that way.

I don't see why it wouldn't work in a tbh.
 

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I don't know that much about top bars either, but I do know that you shouldn't give bees too much empty space, so considering you don't even have foundation, just empty bars, I wouldn't give a package a whole half of the empty hive at first. Maybe install them in a space about the same size as a 5 frame nuc- in other words, give them like 5 or 6 bars only to work on initially. Then move the follower board only as they begin to build straight combs and fill the first bars up.
Be sure your hive is perfectly level because they will alwys build straight down with gravity, and they dont have foundation to keep them in line.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
PerryBee: Thanks. The lang is a swarm from last May. They are doing well and are actually the weaker of my three.

Robo: thanks for the response. I've always been leery of direct release but I know a lot of people say it is ok. I'll go with less space. Glad to hear the gap is ok.

Iddee: That is what I thought might be best, thank you.

Omie: Thanks, I'll move the board about a third in, that should be close to a 5 frame nuc. And I did get it perfectly level, I took so much time doing it that the hive next to it got tired of me being there and shooed me away with a pop to my upper lip :)

TexasnewBee: Anytime !!
 

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If you catch a swarm or end up using the package you
Ordered,once in the TBH take a TB of brood from your
Other place it in the new and it will keep your bees in the
TBH. It's a great anchor IMHO

Nice Job on your build
Good luck with it

Tommyt
 

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If you close the TBH up very much, and you are feeding, watch them very close.
I started my swarm in a TBH nuc, 12 bars, and in one week they had covered 8 bars with comb. I had to build a 4' hive the next day to put them in. Once they were in this hive they seemed to stop building until the first of this year, they are now on bar 21.
Robert
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the tip Robert. I am hoping the observation window will make it easy to watch for such things.
Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I installed a package in the TBH this afternoon and so far everything looks ok. Bees were doing orientation flights at dusk. A boardman feeder fit perfect under the follower board and they started using it almost immediately. I ended up hiving the swarms in a couple of langs. The queen came in a cage with a nylon strap, so instead of laying the cage on the bottom of the hive, I used a tack and suspended her from a bar. I pulled the cork and will check in a couple of days to see it she is released.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The queen was released in two days. I started them on 10 bars and today I added 5 more. They are doing great so far. And both swarms are doing great also. Even the little softball sized swarm is building up :)
 

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I ordered two packages - one for my TBH and one for my Warre. For each hive, I released the queen as I was installing each package. Both queens went to where they were supposed to go. So far things are looking good. Even though a lot of people have admitted they don't know much about TBHs, they are still giving good advice. Seems pretty similar to what I have read or tried. I only have one year of experience...so I'm still learning. :smile:
 

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You did an excellent job on the TBH. One of my friends has two and has not had the good luck you've had. He could have used Omie's advice and leveled them better at first but he just never could get everything working for him. I hope you have continued good fortune.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Just a quick update. I checked them today and they had bar 16 almost completed. I added 5 more.
Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Well they swarmed today. I got home from work and walked out to the "bee yard" and immediately noticed a lack of activity on the front of the TB. I opened the observation window and sure enough, very few bees compared to yesterday. I had given them two bars in the brood chamber weekend before last and 3 more bars at the end. There is still one bar empty in the brood chamber and one in at the end. I went in and changed clothes, fixed myself a beverage and went out to sit by the hives and watch the coming and goings from the other hives, and the lack of from the TB. After sitting there a minute or so I heard them. The unmistakable sound of a swarm. I walked around the cedar to the back side and saw a basketball size swarm up in the top, way out of my reach. I set out a hive with lemongrass oil, but don't hold much hope they will take it up as their new home. I'm beginning to think I raise bees to swarm for someone else to capture. But that may not be so bad either :)
Jim
 
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