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Author Topic: Top Bar Hives in the PNW?  (Read 2197 times)
AliciaH
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« on: July 12, 2011, 06:11:02 PM »

First off, I admit to knowing nothing about top bar or warre hives except for the bits and pieces on this website.  So, please have patience...

I was at a queen rearing talk in Eastern WA in June and a woman asked how she would apply the methods she was being shown to a top bar hive.  The instructor (and I thought this was very unfair of her) didn't answer the question but went on to say that she didn't think top bar hives worked well in the PNW.

So, I bring all this up because I have a mentoree (1st year beek) who has issues lifting weight.  Turns out not only are the boxes a problem (langstroth) but she says she's even having issues with the weights of the frames when they are drawn and full. 

I told her to research top bar hives thinking that she wouldn't have to lift boxes that way and to find out answers like weight comparisons between frames, etc.

I was wondering, though, if there was any merrit to what that instructor said about top bar hives in our area?  The only thing I could come up with myself was the possibility of heat issues in a longer hive vs a taller one - but isn't that what the follower board is for?

Anyway, I know this was wordy, but any help would be appreciated! 
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bulldog
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« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2011, 11:26:59 PM »

from my limited experience most of the negatives about top bar hives seem to come from people who either know nothing about them or don't know enough about them to speak with any authority. this is probably because langstroth hives are so prevalent.

 i'm not that  familiar with the pnw, but i'm guessing that weather is going to be the major concern ? my first hive ( ttbh ) got off to a bit of a late start but still survived the winter just fine and it gets mighty cold there and winter is pretty long. maybe all that rain you get will be a major setback, i couldn't say. i'm sure there are plenty of others better qualified to answer that.

weight of the frames will vary based on dimensions of course. my ttbh bars are as large as a lang deep so they will probably weigh about the same, whereas my ktbh bars are roughly the same  in volume as a medium. hope this is at least mildly amusing if not helpful.

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kathyp
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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2011, 10:14:13 AM »

i don't see why you couldn't do it with some advance prep.  our winters are long, so the bees need to have lots of food close to the cluster.  that might be one draw back.  you might want to add some extra insulation or something to the top.  i have not done them either, but if you think through our winters and the potential problems, i'd think you could work around most issues.
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AliciaH
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« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2011, 12:58:10 PM »

Thanks for the responses!  Sounds like thinking through some extra insulation and keeping the size smaller might be the primary considerations?  We'll be looking into those options, as well.  Thanks, again!
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2011, 01:05:55 AM »

http://bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm#tropical
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AliciaH
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« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2011, 02:24:25 PM »

Thanks, Michael!
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Cacklewack
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« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2011, 06:58:46 PM »

Alicia,

Our business (building top bar hives and Warre hives) is based here in Portland, Oregon. I have around 12 horizontal top bar hives and 15+ Warre hives at any given time. Often a lot more when I'm making top bar hive nucleus colonies.

I've had no issues overwintering any of our hives. I leave the bees with their own honey and essentially leave them alone from October-February.

If you're ever in Portland feel free to stop by our store to discuss further!

Best,
Matt
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AliciaH
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« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2011, 09:05:59 PM »

Thanks, Matt!  A couple questions for you:
  1.  Do you take any honey from the hives for your personal consumption?
  2.  Do the frames come in a standard size?  Or does it depend on who builds the hive?
  3.  Regarding question 2, it would be possible to have frames that are lighter when fully drawn and
       full than Langstroth deep frames?
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Bee Brothers Apiary
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« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2011, 10:16:19 PM »

...except for the bits and pieces off this site

this site is LOADED with much more than bits and pieces. anyways...

1 word: Moisture

with that being said, any hive, any style can be kept anywhere (yea yea, almost anywhere) if the "keeper" is diligent.

if weight is a issue, have the tbh built smaller (not shorter, possibly even longer, but skinner)
this will limit and reduce the size of the comb making it managable.

all the best.

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Cacklewack
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« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2011, 06:16:23 PM »

Thanks, Matt!  A couple questions for you:
  1.  Do you take any honey from the hives for your personal consumption?
  2.  Do the frames come in a standard size?  Or does it depend on who builds the hive?
  3.  Regarding question 2, it would be possible to have frames that are lighter when fully drawn and
       full than Langstroth deep frames?

1) We take many hundreds of pounds of honey from our hives for both personal consumption and for sale in our store.
2) All of our bars (we don't use frames) are the same size: 18" long by 1 3/8" wide in horizontal top bar hives, and standard Warre bar dimensions in our Warre hives.
3) They are lighter than some Langstroth frames, depending on what size frames you use in your Langs...the honey combs on our hives are usually 5-7lbs.

Best,
Matt
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Adam Foster Collins
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« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2011, 08:34:27 PM »

Matt, from your earlier post, it sounds like you prefer the Warré is that correct? If so, why? And if not, why more Warrés than tbh's?

Adam
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Cacklewack
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« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2011, 04:43:28 PM »

Adam,

I prefer working in horizontal top bar hives, but Warre hives scale up more easily. By this I mean that due to the hands off nature of Warre hives, it's far easier for me to manage a LOT of Warre hives than it is a LOT of horizontal top bar hives. HTBH need more frequent manipulation to increase surplus and minimize swarming. With Warres I essentially dump in some bees in the spring, (or add some boxes if they overwintered) and check every few weeks to see if they need more boxes. In the fall I harvest. With HTBH you've got to keep them from becoming honey-bound, move your follower (if you've got one), harvest if they fill up, etc.

Best,
Matt
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