Top Bar Hive (TBH) .... Some Questions

Discussion in 'Top Bar & other Alternative Hives' started by Barbarian, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    I don't have a TBH but am aware of the interest in them by new beekeepers. I want to post some questions to increase my knowledge about them.

    What are the advantages/disadvantages of having the entrance on the end or the side ?

    Does having the entrance up from the floor pose a problem for the bees when removing bodies after a cold snap ?

    The frames/combs are 'warm way'. How do you cope with the bees not using the frames nearest the entrance ?

    :???:
     
  2. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    More Questions

    No response ------ unusual.

    One type of TBH uses wide top bars (WTB) where the bars are in contact with each other along the length. Is there a problem with the bees propolizing the WTB's to each other ?

    With WTB's, do you need special tricks when returning a frame and comb to the hive to ensure that the side wall space is equal ?

    Do you need different tools to cut brace/wild comb on the edge or face of a comb ?
     

  3. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Sorry, I just don't know most of these answers.
    I don't think there are 'special tools' for your last question- I'd buy a long very flexible thin metal spatula like the kind used for icing cakes: https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/...YsztKxzXpoaWOJBTy8KwaJbyX5xAt5BcTk3KwzmZZewfm
    Lots of uses for such a cooking tool!

    All the top bars hives ive ever seen have their top bars snugged up together. Bees will propolize everything no matter how it's arranged.

    When removing and returning a frame, it's really best to not turn it around. Best to put it back exactly the way it was oriented, if at all possible.
     
  4. klpauba

    klpauba New Member

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    I believe that the Warre style of hive that I keep is considered a TBH but it is a bit different from the Kenyan-style TBH. Perhaps my answers will apply (my apologies if they don't!) ...

    On the Warre hive, the top bars are separated in the same way as the Langstroth -- the bars are separated by the appropriate bee space.


    The Warre hive is typically manipulated at the box level but I've manipulated individual combs by first separating the comb from the side of the box with a specialized knife (made by my father) and then removing the frame as I would with a Langstroth. After it's returned to the hive, the bees reattach the comb to the side walls.
     
  5. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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  6. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    I know on Adam's TBH the entrance is at floor level so removing dead bees is no different.
    As far as the comb being sideways, there is a successful keep in Ontario that sells conversion kits for standard Langs that actually has them turned sideways and bees enter from the side of the hive. He claims increased honey production by doing this.
    http://www.beeworks.com/d_e_details.html
     
  7. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    Thanks Apis for the link (I think I read it before on an Omie thread).

    I read it again, carefully, and it still left some of my questions un-answered (and raised other questions).

    I think I may expand some of my questions (by adding thoughts) and fish for responses.
     
  8. Big Bear

    Big Bear New Member

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    my own two cent having both horizontal and warre top bar hives.

    It depends on if you are using a horizontal or a vertical tbh. horizontal being like a Kenyan tbh and vertical being like a warre tbh.

    on a vertical tbh, the entrance is pretty much the same as a Langstroth hive which is a vertical framed hive. So this question most specifically relates to a horizontal hive.

    on my horizontal hives, I use entrances on the side, near the end board. advantage of having entrance on a side, to me, depends on where on the side you place it.

    If in center of hive, it helps you determine where you place follower board as bees tend to build in one direction or the other in my experience.

    On side of hive, because it is at an angle, helps keep bee entrance protected from weather. Some people will drill entrance holes on both the end and the side to accomodate for "cold" and "warm" comb related entrances, plugging them with a cork or other when not in use.

    I've noticed that as long as a hole is at least 2 inches from the floor, it doesn't really adversely affect clean-out. many people use screen bottoms and that problem is reduced even further.

    As I mentioned above, this doesn't "have" to be the case of one or the other. Personally, I've never had the bees not use the comb nearest the entrance regardless of location.

    As someone mentioned earlier, bees propolize everything. Dealing with this is no more difficult than dealing with frames whose top bars have been propolized to the sides.

    No,special tricks or much different than any other hive type. just find a way to remember what order you removed the combs so you put them back that way.

    I use the same tools I have on hand forr my framed hives. A bread knife (long, rounded end) is a very handy tool to have but I use a regular hive tool just as well.
     
  9. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Now that's a comprehensive answer. :thumbsup:
     
  10. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    Swarming

    A nearly-local group of new beekeepers started with horizontal TBH's. In 2012, they caused a lot of local problems with swarming from their hives. Is swarming and swarm starting a problem with TBH's ?

    I have heard that horizontal TBH's produce more drones than box hives. Comments please.

    If you use a horizontal TBH, do you need to keep an empty spare to cover for swarming ?
     
  11. Big Bear

    Big Bear New Member

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    in my opinion, swarming is an issue that is dealt with in any type of hive. It's what bees do.

    Any time you use a system that encourages foundation-less comb building, the bees will build more drone comb. Drone comb is not the end of the world. While a bee nest is a bee nest, a bee hive is not always the same. Horizontal hives require more attention in general. With proper attention to comb building, bee behavior, etc... One can try to minimize how much drone comb is in the hive at a given time.

    Feral bees in a wall or a tree, etc...have more drone comb than a hive will as well usually because most beekeepers use foundation. On their own, bees make whatever size they need or want at the time.

    Doesn't one keep extra boxes around to hive swarms issued from langs? I think it would behoove any beekeeper to have more hive parts around and ready to use in case of a swarm.

    A lot of people will tell folks not to start with a tbh until they have become more experienced with a conventional hive (ie.. Langstroth).

    I simply tell people that the more you learn about honey bee biology and behavior, the better off you will be, regardless of hive system you choose.

    I will say that tbh's aren't for everyone. Some just don't have what it takes to continuously use tbh's. Be that patience, extra time, perspective, information, whatever. That's not a bad thing, it's not a criticism. Simply stating the obvious. Some people don't have what it takes to be a beekeeper in general either, we all know that.

    Personally, I think it just takes a type of beekeeper to be a tbh beekeeper. It's your "thang" or it isn't. Most folks find out pretty quick, in a year or two, if it's something for them or not. Kind of like beekeeping in general again.
     
  12. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Big Bear thanks for the good informative answers. Great detail and reasoning with your answers.
     
  13. Big Bear

    Big Bear New Member

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    I'm just replying from my own situation. I'm sure there are others here with their own methods, perspectives and opinion. I think I have a little bit different approach to bees and beekeeping.

    Thanks for the positive reply.
     
  14. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    Me Again

    Thanks Big Bear for your time, effort and attitude in your posts.

    How about some more questions ? I hope these do not promote some rumblings and growls from your winter den. . .:grin:

    One design of horizontal TBH (HTBH) has semi-fixed splayed legs at each end. When containing a large colony, do you get mid-point sag ?

    We see box hives packed close together for working (urban keeps) and for wintering. What sort of working area do you need around a HTBH ?

    If you need to move an occupied HTBH to a new place in the apiary, is this a two person job ?

    Are there any special tips/hazards when moving an occupied HTBH from one apiary to another ?

    Am I the only member with questions about using HTBH's . .:grin:
     
  15. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    No your not the only one with questions your just asking the questions the rest of us haven't thought of yet. Good questions by the way most wouldn't think about moving a hive TBH or Lang until the day came when it has to be done. TBH are only about 4 ft long 130cm so the strength in the wood would support the weight. How many to move it? If the frames were all full of brood and honey you would defiantly need help. If you pulled all the honey and only had brood at one end one person could handle it. But all things are accomplished easier in pairs.
    As far as spacing around hives I like to be able to stand at the side of the Langstroth hive giving me easy access to each end of the frames. Allowing me to move my hands along the ends of the super and not having to reach across the frames annoying the bees. Because of the lenth of a TBH you will have to work it from the side. If you build them with an end entrance they can be worked from either so only one side needs to be accessible. If you go with a side entrance then you would need to leave space to work the hive from the other side. You want enough room in the apiary that you have easy access to all the colonies, and laid out that you are not standing and impeding bees from entering the colony that you are working or other hives in the apiary.
     
  16. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    Packing hives together such as langs on pallets is probably one of the things you are going to loose if you choose TBH's. Portability is goign to be another. I don't know if I woudl attempt to move a full TBH . I woudl probably build another one and then move the frames to the new hive. I have my TBH placed between a fence and a chicken coop. maybe 18 inches or a little more on one side. a couple of feet on the other. more than enough room. I could probably pack about 3 or 4 more of them in that same general location with similar spacing between them. At the same time I could probably fit 10 langs in that space.

    I am one of those that a TBH is not my thang. I simply do not like the restrictions it creates. I think it is great for those that want some simpler beekeeping. and for those that do not have the langstroth available. It is very good for what it was intended to do. be a simple hive where otherwise there are no hives available. It also serves as a much lower cost way to get a hive together. But they all require making compromises. I simply prefer some of teh features taht the lang offers regardless of the cost of having them.
     
  17. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    Wintering HTBH's

    How well do bees winter in a Horizontal TBH (HTBH) ?

    Some members need to give their bees in boxes a lot stores for winter ----- beyond the capacity of a HTBH. Any comments ?

    To prepare for winter some colonies have to be given a large volume of syrup. How can this be done with a HTBH. ?

    During winter, is there a problem with moisture/condensation in the part of the HTBH not occupied by the cluster. ?
     
  18. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Barbarian, if one gives a bee colony a certain fixed-sized home, under healthy normal conditions the colony will adjust their population to be ideal for that sized cavity. This also means the colony will know how much winter stores they will need to put away for their size of cavity and population. They will fill to 'capacity' exactly what they need for their population and space. No self respecting hive will fill an entire hive with population and not leave sufficient room for food storage when approaching winter. The bees know and will adjust their own population and larder accordingly, if not interfered with or robbed.
    My approach would be to leave them the stores they have prepared (take honey in the spring/summer, not the late Fall), and trust that they will adjust their larder and population to the space they are used to in the TBH.
    If one has taken too much honey in the Fall and thus removed a large number of bars, then obviously the bees would be in danger of not being able to survive the winter on their own preparations...because their winter larder was 'robbed' and they didn't have sufficient Fall time and flow to rebuild on new frames and repair the damage. TBHs are a bit different in that whenever one takes honey, one takes the whole comb and the bees must build new comb from scratch with no foundation. This is hard for them to do in the late Summer and Fall. Thus, if i had TBHs, I would not take honey frames later in the season.

    I cannot answer your condensation question concerning TBHs, sorry.
     
  19. Big Bear

    Big Bear New Member

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    I'll only be able to answer questions that I have personal experience with and won't subject you to my guesses on things I know little to nothing about. For whatever it's worth, this is what I can offer you.:

    Honey bees in tbh's can do just as fine overwinter as any other type of hive if they have enough food in stores. personally, Ifeel I have been most successful with htbh's using a wrap or putting an enclosure around the tbh in winter. That's just me though. The reason I like to do this is because based on my experiences doing live removals of bee nests from horizontal cavities in houses, under eaves, etc... The majority of successful overwintering bee chosen horizontal nests I have seen are located in places that have the nest fully protected from wind exposure and moisture.

    Most of the horizontal cavities I have seen that bees are less or not successful in were those with more wind and moisture exposure such as under tables or grills or less covered places.

    The way i approach my tbh's is not to take honey from them at all after mid August unless it creates space conflict for them. Ido not manage my bees in the "conventional" manner and thus prefer to leave honey for them rather than harvest it. I let the bees tell me when it's harvest time by observing how full they make the nest with honey stores. if they fill all available combs with honey and have nowhere left to store honey but in the brood area, i monitor to make sure they always have room in the stores area, pulling bars of honey a few at a time.

    If bees just did not store enough after mid August, I feed externally until they won't or can't take anymore thus filling their stores.

    If they still aren't getting enough, there is a customized frame in which syrup can be re-filled into the hive to help them out.

    Unless there is a drought or some environmental reason that bees cannot access resources to for stores, I will not feed internally. To me, bees that are unable to efficiently forage and store for winter are poor genetics that will weaken other, more successful foragers if they continue to be carried.

    In my tbh's, I can't say i have noticed any problem in a well built hive box moreso than any other type of hive. Then again, i believe this is also part of the success of wrapping/covering my htbh's

    YMMV