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Author Topic: KTBH musings  (Read 3357 times)
cozybldr
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« on: April 29, 2010, 11:28:43 AM »

It is funny when you talk with other beeks about top bar hives. The immediate reaction from a goodly majority is that you are crazy, deranged, and why do it? The other argument that immediately ensues is the idea that the total honey production will be less with top bar versus Lang. All of the emphasis is on the honey. Ok, let's get past that idea. I want the wax and the honey. That confuses the traditional route beeks. Why do you want the wax??? I also make mead, so it is a two-fer.

Things I have noticed:
Bees are calmer and easier to work.
They build out their wax at rather fast rate. Faster than any Lang I have seen with foundation.
They store honey quickly.
Less hive beetle and varroa in the top bar hive. ( It is a rarity to see them, but I still see them sometimes)
I don't have to feed them! The other beeks think I am cruel not to feed. Huh?
It looks like a major airspace in the flight activity with the 2 top bar hives and the 1 Lang I have.
The top bars do not have to be so precise in their making, unlike the Langs.
When I did not put the wax on the popsicle sticks, they made the comb cross bar. The one where I did do it, it is perfect.
The kids love painting the top bar hives in many colors!
I have a lot of fun with them.
Less roaring when I do an inspection.
The honey tastes just as great!
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Buz Green
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« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2010, 07:28:49 PM »

Wonderfully said. Welcome.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2010, 10:09:23 PM by Buz Green » Logged

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luvin honey
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« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2010, 09:29:07 PM »

Welcome---you're preaching to the choir here Cheesy  I've been happy to note that most people who hear about my topbars are actually curious and interested. Some family just got into beeking this year and started with 4 homemade topbars of their own. Woot!
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KD4MOJ
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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2010, 08:34:12 AM »

Thanks Cozy... that's what I figured about the KTBH... and that's why I'm building one!

...DOUG
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cozybldr
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« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2010, 09:02:31 AM »

I am also a Ham, KB4TKQ! Nice to make your acquaintance.

I will have to post some pics of the kid painted hives later on today.

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JP
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« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2010, 09:15:30 AM »

Why do TBHs? Because they are fun, alot of fun. I'm sure enjoying the one I set up, got it from Uncle Bud. Gonna set up my other one on our country property if I ever find the time to get over there.


...JP
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Robo
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« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2010, 12:12:24 PM »

Things I have noticed:
Bees are calmer and easier to work.
They build out their wax at rather fast rate. Faster than any Lang I have seen with foundation.
They store honey quickly.
Less hive beetle and varroa in the top bar hive. ( It is a rarity to see them, but I still see them sometimes)
I don't have to feed them! The other beeks think I am cruel not to feed. Huh?
It looks like a major airspace in the flight activity with the 2 top bar hives and the 1 Lang I have.
The top bars do not have to be so precise in their making, unlike the Langs.
When I did not put the wax on the popsicle sticks, they made the comb cross bar. The one where I did do it, it is perfect.
The kids love painting the top bar hives in many colors!
I have a lot of fun with them.
Less roaring when I do an inspection.
The honey tastes just as great!

Just out of curiosity,  are the points you mention based on the comparison of 2 TBH vs. 1 Langstroth?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2010, 12:14:33 AM »

I enjoy mine a lot.
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Michael Bush
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cam
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« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2010, 05:46:20 AM »

I didn't like my KTBH and just converted it to a Lang. However, I also have a Tanzanian which I like very much and will keep it.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2010, 06:04:10 AM »

I think the main point may be that there are many ways to keep bees.

As for all the points being mentioned being true to all who have a TBH, I think there would be great differences in opinion.

The list includes "I do not need to feed them". Many factors go into this, including region, environmental factors, etc. The statement at the surface makes it sound like 'Get a TBH and never worry about feeding your bees again. Which is a stretch.

Don't have to be precise? a little off on the bars and you will see how they can screw up comb, that is for sure.

Other items such as the kids loving painting the TBH, is also questionable. So this was compiled in comparing a TBH to a lang. So are we to assume your kids do NOT like painting traditional hives?

As for less mites or SHB, it's the same path probably as about every other type hive arrangement. Casual observations claim many things, but usually they are debunked over time. I have seen more SHB in feral colonies than anything else. And I do not see a magical handling of mites, or a lower overall number of mites, based solely on ANY type of hive selected.

Here is an impartial view as I could come up with about TBH's. It covers some of the pros and cons.

http://www.bjornapiaries.com/top-bar-hive.html

Personally, I think it is great you found a hive you love. And every beekeeper who keeps hives themselves see things as they want to see them.
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DavidBee
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« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2010, 10:22:23 AM »

I installed three packages in (1) a Lang with starter strips, (2) a Lang with guide bars only, and (3) a KTBH. I'm a newbie, so I have no preconceptions. The guy I bought the bees from was very skeptical about the TBH and the Lang without starter strips and predicted they'd leave, but he was wrong. All three hives are thriving so far. A sixth day inspection showed them all drawing comb like mad.

I chose to use gutter guard as screen for the TBH bottom and it proved to be too large, so the bees are ignoring the hole I left them as an entrance and are squeezing through the mesh from underneath. When I saw that I put a board under the length of the hive to close it up some, leaving them about a 1/2 inch space. It also gives them a large landing area. They are less restricted than the bees in the Langs with entrance reducers, and I wonder if the free bottom opening might be a better way to build a TBH. After all, the bees themselves chose it over the hole in the end of the hive.

The two Langs are next to each other and the TBH is in a different place and behind some bushes. I've anthropomorphised them by thinking of the bees in the Langs as the buttoned down conformists and the ones in the TBH as the free spitired rebels. :>) As a child of the '60s, my heart is with the latter. Wink
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Buzzen
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« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2010, 08:48:41 PM »

Well, since I can't afford a lang, I'm making a TBH. The more I read about them the more I like the idea. I am a total newbie with no bees yet, But I am getting ready.  Hopefully I can get a swarm this year.  I appreciate all those who share on here.....so much good info.  Thanks!!!
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KD4MOJ
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« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2010, 08:02:33 AM »

I am also a Ham, KB4TKQ! Nice to make your acquaintance.

  Yep Another expensive hobby! I've been enjoying beekeeping more lately.

...DOUG
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diggity
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« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2010, 04:10:20 PM »

I've only been doing this for a couple years, so I'm no expert, but there are a few things I'm very much convinced of:

1) TBHs are definitely cheaper.  The last Lang deep super I bought, purchased from a local supplier, cost me over $50 including frames and foundation.  It would be a bit cheaper online, but then you'd have to pay shipping and you'd be up to almost $50 anyway.  That's just for a single deep super.  My TBH cost about that to build, but there will be no additional cost for more supers/frames, bottom boards, top covers, inner covers, queen excluders, etc. etc.  What's more, you won't need an extractor.

2) Bees seem to like building natural comb more than they like drawing out foundation.  I've been replacing some frames in my Langs with frames consisting only of a starter strip.  So I have starter-only frames sitting right next to regular frames with foundation.  In every case thus far, the bees have built new comb on the starter strips before drawing out the foundation! 

3) I have to agree with Cozy that there's more opportunity to paint a TBH than a Lang.  My daughter has hers painted colorfully all over with pictures of bees and Peace symbols!  It would be hard to get any sort of artistic thing going on a Lang when supers are always going on and coming off...

4) Using a digital camera, you can do a pretty good inspection of the hive with minimal disturbance to the bees.  Just pull a few top bars off in an area where they aren't very active, and stick the camera down inside!  Most cameras can do video as well as pictures, so you can easily record what's going on in there.

5) Bees seem to be less aggressive, but I can't say for sure because it's possible that I simply have a gentle colony in the TBH.

6) The only thing that I don't like about the TBH is that they stick comb to the sides, making the bars difficult to remove without damage.

Just my 2 cents. 

-Diggity
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2010, 09:16:17 AM »


6) The only thing that I don't like about the TBH is that they stick comb to the sides, making the bars difficult to remove without damage.

-Diggity
I like our long hives for this reason.  You can use standard frames so you don't get the sticking to the sides.  You can interchange frames with Langs.  a long hive can also be used as a top bar if you want.  Just cut the top bars to the standard 19" length.  My long hive is just a Tanzanian top bar hive that uses 19 inch top bars.

The long hives are cheaper to build than a Lang and easier to work than either a Lang or a TBH.  
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bethebee
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« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2010, 07:46:22 PM »

You should say 19" is YOUR standard, shouldn't you?

btb
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caticind
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« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2010, 10:45:58 AM »

19 inches is our standard, but since it's the same as most Langstroths, it's a little more standard than your average standard.  Wink
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Stlnifr
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« Reply #17 on: September 27, 2010, 05:39:57 PM »

Thanks Cozy... that's what I figured about the KTBH... and that's why I'm building one!

...DOUG
KD4MOJ

I enjoyed the info also for I am new to Top Bar Hives.

I also am a ham KF4KPS
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