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Author Topic: top bar help needed in Clemson South Carolina  (Read 2222 times)
rjatpen
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« on: May 29, 2011, 02:04:22 PM »

Is anyone available for giving me some guidance with my new top bar hive?  I live in Clemson South Carolina and haven't been able to find anyone through the University or Bee clubs in the area.  I have very nice bees and would be very grateful for any help.
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Tommyt
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« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2011, 07:19:41 AM »

I am not in your area but here is a couple of folks who write a lot about
their topbars and easy plans on making them
Dave has many videos
The Blog by Sean I really haven't read much of it
and don't know if Chapel Hill is close to you
Dave I know will answer and discuss KTBH and do his
best to guide you
Tommyt


http://www.davesbees.com/

http://topbarbees.wordpress.com/about/design/

Quote
My name is Sean, and I am a beginning beekeeper from Chapel Hill, NC (where I recently finished graduate school). I decided wanted to start with top-bar hives, and this blog follows my experiences with my hives and bees.

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fairview1867
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« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2011, 07:23:44 AM »

What seems to be your problem/issue>
Keith
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rjatpen
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« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2011, 08:01:03 AM »

cross combs are my biggest problem. i am afraid to fix them, fearing i may kill the hive.  they are building three combs per bar with the edge overlapped on the next bar.  i have tried to straighten them twice.  yesterday i added four bars with popsicle sticks but couldn't pry the first five bars apart and can't even move the leader board closest to the brood comb. i did manage to push the last comb straight but broke comb and spilled honey and brood to do it. I read somewhere if the comb breaks the ventilation can be thwarted and the whole hive perish.  It is hot, in the 90's yesterday.  A very experienced bee keeper in the area told me to put my hive on a hill in the sun and I did but now I am wondering if that applies to top bars.  I am worried they may be too hot and have been trying to think of ways I can shade them at noon, or should I just move the hive? I put a small fig tree beside the hive to give them some shade but not much, and put the lid on blocks. Finally I am seeing ants, not in the hive but on the legs.  I pick them off everyday and am planning to put a mote of some sort around the legs which seems to be working pretty good for the station feeder. Plus if I could find someone local I could compare noises, I am trying to learn the mood of the bees.  I put a package of bees in a TBH maybe a month ago. Thank you very much for asking about my concerns. Rachel
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fairview1867
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« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2011, 12:42:31 PM »

Rachel,
Well............I may not be the one that should be helping as we are in western NY state and we don't get the heat you do.  I might guess tho that a) there is too much direct sun, as with a top bar your support is limited and when you try to separate they may collapse. Regarding the crosscombing, get a serated knife, carefully cut as you separate. How wide are your top bars? Up here we run our brood bars around 1 1/4 inch wide and our honey anywheres from 1 3/8 to 1 3/4 inches wide.  If you spill honey don't get too concerned as the bees will clean it. If the hive gets too hot you will see them outside actually fanning it, do you have a vent hole in the top end? I know I have not given much help, just trying think through all possible angles.
Keith
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rjatpen
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« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2011, 01:01:39 PM »

i guess i did sort of try to do that but don't want to cut the bees, although they do sort of move out of the way.  i didn't push the knife down very far.  i only work in the hive early(for me) in the morning, before it gets hot. i have seen a few bees outside the entrance (4 or 6), and have three entrances at the main comb, then one entrance outside each leader board, so maybe a bit of side ventilation.  the top is propped up on 2X4's so a small shady area at the top of the top bars.  somebody around here would be so helpful.  i talked to a half dozen beekeepers in the area and they all didn't know anything about top bar or didn't think it was any good, but I have read so much great stuff about it. hmmmm...
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fairview1867
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« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2011, 05:33:49 PM »

Rachel
Unfortunately those who have only worked with langstroth hives dont want to even think about anything new.  The thing is a langstroth box is entirely MAN MADE!!! What you are trying to do is let the bees be bees, naturally.  Don't give up, remember, even with the "tried and true" it is still an experiment.
Don't be afraid of the bees being in the way when you separate. Also don't let the "old-timers" tell you that crosscombing does not happen in their hives.  It does.  We have 2 langstroth hives in our yard, it is not unusual to have to cut them apart to get them out of the box.  Keep track of what you try so you will know what did and didnot work.
Sorry we arent closer.
Keith
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BjornBee
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« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2011, 09:44:42 PM »

Rachel
Unfortunately those who have only worked with langstroth hives dont want to even think about anything new. 


Wow....you spoke to all of them huh?

Rachel
  The thing is a langstroth box is entirely MAN MADE!!! What you are trying to do is let the bees be bees, naturally. 


Whats the point? Aren't they all manmade? Are you suggesting otherwise?

What you are trying to do is let the bees be bees, naturally.  Don't give up, remember, even with the "tried and true" it is still an experiment.


There is nothing more natural with a TBH and horizontal beekeeping than vertical type hives. This is an often repeated claim by those pushing TBHs. Managed hives, regardless of the type, is unnatural.

We have 2 langstroth hives in our yard, it is not unusual to have to cut them apart to get them out of the box. 


No...and for any beginner out there.....this is not normal.


Rachel....your TBH started the comb in a manner that you did not desire. It should of been corrected the first time you noticed this. Since you let it continue, you will always feel uncomfortable, and uneasy about opening this hive and harming bees or destroying comb. At some point, you just need to the courage to filter in new bars, cut out the cross comb, and get this straightened out. If I was closer, I would swing by. It's no big deal. It's just something that needs done, and is part of beekeeping.

Here is a bit about TBHs at Bjorn Apiaries.

http://www.bjornapiaries.com/topbarbeekeeping.html

Good luck.
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tillie
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« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2011, 11:11:01 PM »

I've had a lot of trouble with my top bar in Atlanta where it is also hot.  I've recently learned from this forum to cut UP with the serrated knife or hive tool.  If you cut down, you pull against the top bar and newly drawn wax (less than a month old) is likely to come off of the top bar.

Also my hive was way too hot.  I followed the plans on the Internet of a not-to-be-spoken top bar guy and made a wavy plastic top.  WAY<WAY WAY too hot.  I have now made a solid board top that is raised with 1X4s nailed under it.  The hiv eis much cooler even in the middle of the day.

Top bars are a challenge and I don't know that I will ever try again, but the issue of cutting the cross comb and the heat of the hive are shared with me in Atlanta.

Linda T where it is truly Hotlanta this week

PS If you want to see the mess I've made with mine, just search "top bar" on my blog and you can see pictures of all of my screw-ups on the top bar (or at least most of them - sometimes my hands were too sticky from breaking honeycomb to use the camera  tongue)  Might make you feel better if you are part of the misery loves company school of thought!!!
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fairview1867
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« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2011, 07:16:40 AM »

To BjornBee.
I am sorry that I have hit such a tender nerve with you.  I went to your web site, interestingly enough your responses to me are contrary to your site.  I bow to the fact that you have done tbh's for five years and have a greater knowledge along these lines than I.  However, it has indeed been proven that, yes, man has built the tbh hive, but the bees do what they do best naturally.  Cell size is smaller, the bees themselves are a touch smaller, and disease is less. So TBH's are indeed a more natural way  (less man made or directed) to "manage" bees.
I am only responding to explain my stance. This is not something that i will continue to debate.  Its not instructional to anyone.
Again, I am sorry for giving you the impression that my experiences are of a greater value than yours, they are not. They are only our experiences here in western NY., and as always, location we have found  dictates everything.
Keith   
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rjatpen
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« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2011, 07:25:56 AM »

still hoping to find someone in my area.  would be willing to buy lunch, bake a cake, share guinea hen eggs, airplane tickets, free dog or something.   grin
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BjornBee
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« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2011, 08:59:48 AM »

To BjornBee.
I am sorry that I have hit such a tender nerve with you.  I went to your web site, interestingly enough your responses to me are contrary to your site.  I bow to the fact that you have done tbh's for five years and have a greater knowledge along these lines than I.  However, it has indeed been proven that, yes, man has built the tbh hive, but the bees do what they do best naturally.  Cell size is smaller, the bees themselves are a touch smaller, and disease is less. So TBH's are indeed a more natural way  (less man made or directed) to "manage" bees.
I am only responding to explain my stance. This is not something that i will continue to debate.  Its not instructional to anyone.
Again, I am sorry for giving you the impression that my experiences are of a greater value than yours, they are not. They are only our experiences here in western NY., and as always, location we have found  dictates everything.
Keith   


What diseases? I have seen no studies, proof myself in my own operation, or any other material to suggest that disease is handled my the mere fact of using a TBH.

As for cell size....unless you regress, the cell size is no different than any other foundationless system you use. Bees do not draw smaller cells for the mere fact that a TBH is being used. The comb may be "natural" from the stance that they are not being given a preset pattern to follow such as with foundation, but any indication to smaller comb or smaller bees by using a TBH is not true. You can get that in any hive you use, by going foundationless. You can have foundationless systems in a langstroth hive. So any promotion of a TBH as more natural when your forcing comb to be drawn on straight bars, while denigrating Langstroth hives as "less natural" is a twist of truth at best.

You state you do not want to debate your stance, but again and again, you make claims and seemingly do not want to explain yourself beyond anecdotal comments. ANYONE coming here and giving such advice and casual observations, should expect others to question, offer rebuttals, and discuss such matters. If you can't do that on a forum, then it's just becomes a collection of "blogs". 

TBH may or may not cause smaller cells or smaller bees. Normally the first comb is the same as they are accustomed to draw prior to dumping them in the TBH.

TBH are not magical in some resistance to disease or pest problems.

They use a foundationless system that could be used in ANY hive.

They are not more natural than any other hive.

People should consider TBHs for what they are. Interesting, fun, different, and easy to make if you can build them yourself. Any claim of "more natural", disease resistance, mite resistance, smaller bees, or anything else.....simply is not true.

I can show you many langstroth hives with foundationless systems that do far better than TBHs.
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« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2011, 09:19:21 AM »

The only natural form of beekeeping would be from a hive within a tree, wall, etc and they are still plagued with mites, SHB's AFB, etc. So I dont think a TBH is any more natural than Langstroth's or Warre's.

The only thing you can do and basically what you should do, is to just set aside one day and dive right in there and fix it as to how it should be. One bad comb just leads to another.

Check out Tillies blog on TBH's as well. Her site is a wealth of information.

Heres another link:http://anarchyapiaries.org

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tillie
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« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2011, 04:15:39 PM »

Sam Comfort (anarchyapiaries.org) is not just a wealth of information but a fascinating, laid back, friendly great guy.  I met him in Florida and watched him work his top bar hives at the SE Organic beekeepers Conference in 2010 and ran into him again at EAS where he just appeared to be "stopping by."  He was slouched in a chair with his head to one side as I approached and he jumped up and said, "Hi, Tillie!"  Rides quite the motorcycle!

Another good top bar reference is Wyatt Mangum, a professor of math I think at Mary Washington College, and one of the folks who writes regularly for ABJ.  He's got all top bars (as does Sam) and has conducted many scientific studies of the bees in his top bar hives.  Another character and a very friendly fellow, Wyatt is glad to share time and knowledge.

Hope that helps,

Linda T in Atlanta

Pictures of and references to both of the men above on my blog.....

http://beekeeperlinda.blogspot.com/2010/08/wyatt-mangum-on-top-bar-beekeeping.html
http://beekeeperlinda.blogspot.com/2010/02/sam-comfort-and-top-bar-hives.html
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rjatpen
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« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2011, 10:07:16 PM »

tillie,
thank you for your replies.  i had actually poured over your blog the Saturday before I got my bees and learned a lot from it.  i painted a roof white and added a big potted grapefruit tree beside the hive to help with the HEAT. the bees, which are just such nice bees, are busy carrying pollen and sugar water so they seem to be doing OK.  i am weighing straightening cross comb against the the time it would take me with the hive open to fix. so maybe somebody will turn up that can help me.  I think i shouldn't let the hive open after ten am with the temp in the 90's. Since i am so new i am very very slow.  would i be absolutely wrong to leave some crossed comb and get newer comb straight?
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tillie
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« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2011, 11:05:31 PM »

If you leave the cross comb, the bees will keep making cross comb.  They parallel what they have done before and in the end every comb with be attached to the one next to it.

Quote
the time it would take me with the hive open to fix.

One of the great advantages of the top bar is that you don't leave the hive open.  You are only going to remove a bar at a time.  This is a good time to employ hive drapes.  Cut (up) through the cross comb and lift the top bar out.  Put a drape over the small opening created by the one bar.  Straighten out or cut out the crossed comb and return the bar to the hive.  Move on to the next one until you have taken care of the problem.

It's not so hard on the bees to open the hive when the temp is in the 90s, but it is hard on the beekeeper!

Linda T

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