It will come down to personal choice. A TBH can be built using scrap wood so your initial costs might be lower. I like the idea of not bending all the time. I think they are great for someone looking for a "different" way of keeping bees, don't know if they would be suitable for any large scale beekeeping. I am sure there are some that do but for practical reasons I would be inclined to stick with standard Langstroth till I had more experience. My opinion only, a forum member I had the pleasure of meeting not too long ago (Adam Foster Collins) has had good success with TBH's way up here in "Tundra" country. :mrgreen:
I can't advise you personally Jason, but I know a guy near me that started with TB hives last year and has been successful so far with them. I started with Langs, but finished a TB recently that I plan to have bees occupying in a couple of months.
I don't have a hive of any kind yet. I'm only going to have 2 hives at most. If any at all really. That will be decided next week. I just thought they looked cool and might be fun to have something a bit different than the norm.
Enough people are successful with top bar hives to be able to say sure, why not? Go for it!
Are you planning to build it yourself? If so, just be sure to follow a good plan in terms of the spacing - bees like a certain distance of 'bee space' between edges and frames etc....any bigger than 'bee space' and they will fill it with wild comb, so get a reliable blueprint/plan and follow the spacing suggestions exactly.
If you plan to get bees this year, you better get moving on finding out where to get some, unless you plan on capturing a swarm. Some places would be sold out already for Spring orders.
I'll go along with everyone else and say "Go for it!" I have all Langs myself, but am thinking about a TBH sometime in the future. You say you're only gonna have 2 hives at most-I reply "Wanna Bet?":lol: Those little bugs are very addicting-I know, I'm hooked. Good luck whichever way you choose.
Look at it from the bees stand point:
Bees place honey above the brood chamber ( look in a hollow tree or in the wall of house) They do this for a miriad of reasons, location to brood, both to feed and hold heat. They do it so that in the winter the cluster heat softens the, often times, granulated honey for easy consuption ect ect. Cant be done in a TBH.
TBH's have a huge top surface area. Bad in the summer as the sun cooks em and bad in the winter as the cluster has no heat sink. The heat leaves through the shanty lid.
Bees don't like to build sidewise. Can be seen in langstroth on a bad year. They will draw comb and store honey in all of the supers above them, three frames wide. But will neglect the outter frames. (hum, like if they were in a tree, their natural habitat.)
TBH are a pain to work, move and maintain.
If you want to keep bees naturally, use a langstroth with frames and a natural foundation or just a strip of wax on the top bar same diff, much better results.
But if you want to emulate the poor conditions in Africa, where the native people didn't have the means to construct langstroth, and came up with an alternate form of keeping bees, through nesissity,, sweet......... have at it.
Sorry this rant comes from the people I meet everyday that tell me that the reason bees are dieing are because we are keeping them in a box and not a top bar hive
The funny thing is I have seen swarms living ( and thriving) in old tires, empty chemical barrels, and even in the crank case of engines.
If you're into bees for money, stick with Langs--parts are interchangeable and easy to handle. If you're into bees for fun, than do what suits your fancy. You can always change your mind whenever you want.
Oh Yes--Welcome to the forum.:grin:
I know folks who keep lots of Langs, folks who keep lots of TB hives (300 hives!) and folks who keep both. Both types of hives seem to have pros and cons, but TB hives can be a lot of fun especially for hobby keepers who want to experiment.
If I had a really bad back I'd probably have TB hives.
I have TBH and Langstroths. Any argument for one can be said about the other.
My Langstroth are worked at the same comfortable height as my KTBH.
Either can be made free or cheap with scrap wood. It is easier to find 19 inch scrap than 4 ft.
Either can be managed without foundation or buying an extractor.
Frames/top bars of comb can be moved individually in either to reduce heavy lifting.
Manipulating top bars will teach better technique. If you are rough with frames no problem. If you are rough with top bars, they break off and drop.
If there is ever a time to start with two hives, one of each is the best time to compare and learn by doing.
I started with a Top Bar hive last year. I don't regret the choice at all. It was less complicated to get started with than a Lang in my opinion. It was also inexpensive. Made of scrap wood. I caught a swarm so I got in to the hobby real cheap.
However, This year I am working on getting my bees in to langstroth hives. The top bar was fun, but inspections have become cumbersome and messy. I'm ready to work with frames at this point.
If it were not for the top bar I would not be keeping bees today. It is a good learning experience, and an easy way to get started.