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Author Topic: I hate my top bar hive - what can I do?  (Read 13910 times)

Offline bee-nuts

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Re: I hate my top bar hive - what can I do?
« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2011, 03:17:40 AM »
Do a cutout then have a wonderful bomb fire with the top bar hive.  You at least should get some nice roasted wienies and smores!  There is a reason after hundreds of years of keeping bees in skeps, logs, and such that the lang took over the world.  From what I hear 90 % of beeks that start in top bar hives and still have bees the following season are using langs.  I think you should master a lang before a top bar hive but once you did that why would you want a top bar hive anyway?  Its like going from a modern auto to horse and buggy.
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: I hate my top bar hive - what can I do?
« Reply #21 on: August 13, 2011, 06:18:14 AM »
I'd have to say that Europeans and Americans never had top bar hives until very recently.  The Greeks had them hundreds if not thousands of years ago and still do today, but Americans were not looking for an improvement over a top bar hive as they had never seen or heard of one at the time the Langstroth came out.  They were looking for an improvement over a log gum (in the US) and the skep (in Europe).  And a top bar hive is a huge step above either.  A top bar hive solves all  of the same problems that the Langstroth does (removable comb) with less cost and less work to build.  It gives someone with very basic tools an scrap lumber a way to get a moveable comb hive for next to nothing, if not nothing.  The Langstroth did not displace the top bar hive.  The Langstroth has never been in any competition for acceptance with the top bar hive until quite recently.  And so far the Langstroth is losing ground.  

Actually it's like going from a Caddy with power windows, power brakes, power seats, power antenna, air conditioning, automatic transmission and trading it in for a car with manual everything and a  standard transmission.  Or, a better comparison might be trading your fiberglass compound bow with laser sights, balance bar and mechanical release, for a very nice and very simple wood long bow.
Michael Bush
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Offline Adam Foster Collins

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Re: I hate my top bar hive - what can I do?
« Reply #22 on: August 14, 2011, 12:10:59 AM »
I'd have to say that Europeans and Americans never had top bar hives until very recently....The Langstroth did not displace the top bar hive.  The Langstroth has never been in any competition for acceptance with the top bar hive until quite recently.  And so far the Langstroth is losing ground... a better comparison might be trading your fiberglass compound bow with laser sights, balance bar and mechanical release, for a very nice and very simple wood long bow.

Excellent points Michael.

Many critics of the top bar hive seem to look at it as if it were some backward method. But in terms of simplicity, it's an elegant solution.

The long bow certainly was a paradigm shift when it hit the scene for the first time.
But why would anyone use a bow now, when they could use a rifle?
Why would you hand carve something when you could use a power tool?
Why would you cook over a camp fire, when you could use a microwave?
Why would you sleep in a tipi, when you could rent a hotel?


Because it's not all about getting the job "done" - it's about different ways of enjoying "doing" the job.


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Offline luvin honey

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Re: I hate my top bar hive - what can I do?
« Reply #23 on: August 15, 2011, 09:15:03 PM »
Do a cutout then have a wonderful bomb fire with the top bar hive.  You at least should get some nice roasted wienies and smores!  There is a reason after hundreds of years of keeping bees in skeps, logs, and such that the lang took over the world.  From what I hear 90 % of beeks that start in top bar hives and still have bees the following season are using langs.  I think you should master a lang before a top bar hive but once you did that why would you want a top bar hive anyway?  Its like going from a modern auto to horse and buggy.
I'm not sure about your analogy. They're both wooden boxes. I guess I would see it as a difference between one shape of a vehicle (minivan, for example) and another (station wagon). They're both just wooden boxes, just in different shapes and configurations.

I'm thrilled I started with topbars. I'd like to try Langs also to see if I can get more production, but I have learned so much about my bees and spent so many enjoyable hours watching them in a way that would have been physically impossible with a Lang.
The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Is aristocracy.
---Emily Dickinson

Offline annette

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Re: I hate my top bar hive - what can I do?
« Reply #24 on: August 17, 2011, 12:03:47 AM »
This is the same reason I am seriously thinking that I have to switch to TBH's if I want to continue beekeeping. The supers are getting much to heavy for me and I can't do it anymore without help. Fortunately, I have some pretty good beekeeping friends who are willing to help me lift the heavy supers. As long as they are willing to help, I can continue with the langstroth hives.

Although I do want to have the experience at some point with a TBH.


Offline bulldog

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Re: I hate my top bar hive - what can I do?
« Reply #25 on: August 24, 2011, 11:52:38 AM »
Quote
There is a reason after hundreds of years of keeping bees in skeps, logs, and such that the lang took over the world.  From what I hear 90 % of beeks that start in top bar hives and still have bees the following season are using langs.  I think you should master a lang before a top bar hive but once you did that why would you want a top bar hive anyway?  Its like going from a modern auto to horse and buggy.

sorry dude, but i started with 1 tbh last year and now have 4 in total and i love them. i think that perhaps tillie got off to a bad start with hers and it has soured her on the experience. i'm sure it has happened to others as well. if she ( or anyone for that matter ) works the hive from the rear like bjorn mentioned it is very simple to manage IMO. if tillie had the good fortune of knowing that from the start i don't believe that this post would even be here right now. it's different than a lang and so must be worked differently and experiences will also differ, but that is no reason to condemn them as a failure. there is a reason why they came into existence and remain so. maybe it isn't for everyone, but it certainly works for me. purhcasing a lang hive + shipping = $$$$, i built all my hives myself for less than $30 each, and i could have gone cheaper if i wanted to. i don't have to store hundreds of empty boxes and frames either, i have a shopping bag filled with spare bars that is it.

tillie, i'm sorry you had such a bad time of it, but keep your chin up it will get better. i work my hives exactly as bjorn mentioned earlier and have had few problems. yes i had a few collapsed combs and lost some bees in the process, so it's not all peaches and cream. my advice would be to just take a step back and reassess the situation and go from there.
Confucius say "He who stand on toilet is high on pot"

Offline TwoHoneys

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Re: I hate my top bar hive - what can I do?
« Reply #26 on: August 26, 2011, 08:44:47 AM »
I've kept bees in Langstroth hives for 3 years, and this year I built my first three TBHs. I'm also sort of overseeing colonies in other yards which include another 3 TBHs. All of the TBHs grew with great enthusiasm and none of them superseded their queen. It took a lot of "managing" to keep the Langs going this year, but the TBHs hummed along needing nothing but empty bars. I LOVE them.

I also love the Langs, and I plan to continue using both...but I think that if I were a colony of honeybees, I'd want to live in a TBH. I've come the think of the TBH as a cottage or a cabin as compared to a Langstroth McMansion. I usually choose the quiet, low-key places.

-Liz
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Offline tillie

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Re: I hate my top bar hive - what can I do?
« Reply #27 on: September 03, 2011, 02:06:13 PM »
I haven't given up completely on top bar hives, but it was a discouraging experience.  Every time I worked the hive I started from the far end of the colony and worked toward the brood, so that wasn't the problem.  I do think Bjorn is right that when some comb fell into the bottom of the hive early on I didn't clean it up well and that added to the problems because the bees would anchor comb to the fallen comb on the bottom.  I just killed so many bees that it made me sick in trying to recover the comb and I knew I shouldn't have left it on the bottom.

The other problem I had was I think early on TBHs require much more careful management than Langs and I wasn't present on the site where the TBH was (it was at my daughter's house) so I wasn't in it every week  - 10 days like I am in my Langs.  As a result if cross comb started I didn't catch it fast enough and by the time I got there (about every three weeks), it was a done deal.

I will try it again in my own yard where I can check on it weekly....just not until next year.

Linda T in ATlanta
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Offline Sundog

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Re: I hate my top bar hive - what can I do?
« Reply #28 on: September 03, 2011, 04:01:05 PM »
I read a thread where someone wrote that he never (okay, maybe most of the time :imsorry:, didn't mean to put words in your mouth), uses smoke when inspecting, rather drizzles a thin line of honey across the top bars (of his Lang) for to keep the bees occupied.  I tried that last weekend with my TBH and the bees lined up to lap the honey and didn't mind me at all as I pulled all the bars one by one and photographed them to study later.

Have fun!

« Last Edit: September 03, 2011, 10:52:26 PM by Sundog »

Offline Bee Brothers Apiary

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Re: I hate my top bar hive - what can I do?
« Reply #29 on: September 03, 2011, 09:47:39 PM »
...never uses smoke when inspecting, rather drizzles a thin line of honey across the top ...

Did I write "never"?  :-D

94.5 times out of 100, yes!  Been doing it for about 10 years. I am happy to hear it also worked for you.


post you refer to:

http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php/topic,33735.msg283516.html#msg283516


why are your bees seemingly so defensive?
do they typically boil up at you when you work them?
if you had no veil, why did you work them anyway?
how often do you disturb them? and why?

no after the fact remedy sorry, is what it is.
i do have a few suggestions, fwiw.

-requeen if you can never work them without protective gear
-use bare hands for a better grip to reduce agitation.
-throw out the smoker and carry honey.
-pop the lid gently, open it so the lid hides you from the bees, allow the cover to block site of you for about 10 seconds, put cover down, slowly pour a thin line of honey on top of all the top frames, wait 2 minutes.
- once they form two lines on all the honey, work them at your leisure.

i'll put my honey up against anyones smokers, any bees, any weather, any time...dropped the smoker and the suit of armor a decade ago. still use both on cut-outs (38 this year), but not the smoke so much anymore.

good luck!

 














Offline Michael Bush

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Re: I hate my top bar hive - what can I do?
« Reply #30 on: September 03, 2011, 09:59:28 PM »
The real difference between a Langstroth and a TBH is the need to micromanage in a top bar hive.  You have to micromanage the space because it's fixed, you have to micromanage the combs a bit to make sure they don't get off because one bad comb leads to another.  So having a TBH in a place you can't get into them regularly is not a good plan.  IMO this is the principle difference.  If you manage a TBH well it will make as much honey.  It's not more work, it's more FREQUENT work.  It's less lifting with the TBH.  It's more frequent inspections, and more frequent harvesting, but it's not more work per se.  What you save in lifting it costs you in frequency.  If you like to mess with the bees and it's in your back yard it's a good choice.  If you want fairly maintenance free bees and you want to put them where you'll only get there once every few months a TBH is not a good choice.

Michael Bush
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Offline luvin honey

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Re: I hate my top bar hive - what can I do?
« Reply #31 on: September 07, 2011, 03:46:32 PM »
So, you honey users, how do you get the bars back together when you're ready to close up the hive? Seems like the bees would be all over the place, making closure really difficult...
The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Is aristocracy.
---Emily Dickinson

Offline evilbee

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Re: I hate my top bar hive - what can I do?
« Reply #32 on: October 24, 2011, 10:03:24 AM »
use a water sprayer and a gentle approach will make your girls put their heads back down into the hive


its a shame you have had so many problems with your tbh :(


i am moving over to them from 30+ years of wbc's and nationals

i love top bar hives and teach using the benifits of these over conventional hives

patiance is the key when using tbh's and cross combing being the worst problem i have encountered

i can keep all the tools needed for inspection in the void behind the follower board

i no longer have to keep a warehouse full of spare bits to make up hives, supers and suchlike.

the only thing you need to operate a tbh is a knife, water sprayer and a suit.

the bees are happier and in comparision to conventional are far better.


please do not be disheartened keeping bees in tbh's are way better than conventional

Offline ChristyHemenway

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Re: I hate my top bar hive - what can I do?
« Reply #33 on: August 23, 2013, 01:53:45 PM »
Here is a YouTube video on fixing cross-combing:

youtu.be/pdwxrByaqX0

but truly - prevention is the better answer.

Inspect gently, early, regularly, and thoroughly... bar by bar.

Be a good wax shepherd!

:-)
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Offline LindaL

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Re: I hate my top bar hive - what can I do?
« Reply #34 on: August 23, 2013, 03:43:52 PM »
Hi linda t.

Cant wait to read all about this on your blog. I was thinking about trying a top bar hive i can learn from your trials :)

Good luck

Linda.
Official bee stalker of the bee yard
Bee keeper since July 31, 2013

 

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