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Author Topic: Building Top bar from a 55 gallon drum  (Read 5055 times)
nietssemaj
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« on: October 03, 2011, 12:46:51 PM »

I'm getting ready to build a top bar hive out of a barrel like the one Robo has pictured on his blog and on his avatar. I've got a few questions for him or anyone who knows the answer.

I *think* that the space inside will be wide/deep enough to hold a modified medium langstroth frame. At least it seems to be true if my calculations are correct. I am asking because I am looking to populate my hive next spring with a nuc colony and boy would it be convenient if I could screw a longer bar on top of the medium frames and drop them into the hive until the bee's have built some more comb on other frameless bars.

I'm also wondering if it might be a good idea to try and put a screen on the bottom running the length of the barrel. Still not sure exactly how I would go about that. Perhaps melting/fusing the plastic in the barrel into the screen material on the outside. I am in North Florida so I am concerned about ventilation and condensation not so much about cold. We seldom get below 15°F here in the winter.
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CapnChkn
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« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2011, 02:32:04 PM »

I'm not sure what you're asking, but I think a top bar hive is just fine as a long box with straight sides.  Here's an "instructable" that gives all the details on building one out of a plastic barrel.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-your-own-Honey-Cow-Top-Bar-Bee-Hive/
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evilbee
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« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2011, 08:44:05 AM »

one question why modify a lang frame ?


i used a large barrel a few years ago to make a hands off hive with dadant frames and forgot about the joys of bees knowing best

and ended up with a hive which i couldn't get any of the frames out off Sad


you would be better to just cut some top bars to cross the complete gap and rest on the lip of the barrel

Smiley
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nietssemaj
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« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2011, 11:19:00 AM »

The goal is to not have any frames in the hive in the long run.

What I would like to do though is not 'cut' the frames that I get from the Nuc. Put those in the hive, and transition the bees off them as they build out the top bars. Once that is done I'll have a nuc box with medium frames with comb to use as a bait hive.

Plan
Get nuc...(medium)
add longer top bar on top of frame to allow it to sit in the barrel.
place frames in barrel along with fresh guided top bars.
Work frames towards the outside of the hive over time.
Pull frames out completely at honey harvest time and not put them back in.

I'd prefer to get a wintered-over nuc than a box of bees. I'd prefer to not mangle the comb on the frames and tie/clip/sew 'cutouts' onto the new tbh. The main question was for anyone who might have a barrel hive and a medium frame on hand (at this point I have neither) who could tell me if the frame would fit un-modified into the barrel.

I *think* it will and will operate on that assumption until I discover otherwise.
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Robo
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« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2011, 02:52:41 PM »

The funny thing about the "Honey Cow", other than it looks very similar to mine, is that it is all staged pictures and no bees in it. rolleyes

nietssemaj -  I know exactly what you want to do with the modified frames.  I started my first TBHs the same way, only with deeps.  I'm pretty sure a medium frame will fit in the half barrel but can verify it tonight for you.    As far as screen in the bottom,   I'm not much for adding excess ventilation, but then again my climate is mush different than yours.  I spend a lot of time observing feral colonies,  and at least in my area,  they do everything they can to seal up everything but the entrance.

However,  if you want to add ventilation in the bottom,  I would suggest cutting a series of large holes with a hole saw and them gluing or screwing #8 hardware cloth over them.  This way the structural integrity of the barrel will not be too compromised. 

Rob...

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Robo
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« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2011, 06:04:49 PM »

nietssemaj - Medium frames WILL fit into the half barrel hive.   You can just screw one of you top bars to the top of the frame and hang them in there.

rob...
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bulldog
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« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2011, 01:10:44 AM »

robo, i'm assuming that you are aware ( but maybe you're not ) that you and your hive are famous. i saw it mentioned in an article in the backwoodsman magazine. i forget what issue, maybe about a year ago.
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Robo
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« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2011, 07:57:19 AM »

robo, i'm assuming that you are aware ( but maybe you're not ) that you and your hive are famous. i saw it mentioned in an article in the backwoodsman magazine. i forget what issue, maybe about a year ago.

Yup, it was Jan/Feb 2011 issue....but thanks for checking with me.  Not sure how "famous" that makes it though  rolleyes
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nietssemaj
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« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2011, 10:03:52 AM »

nietssemaj - Medium frames WILL fit into the half barrel hive.   You can just screw one of you top bars to the top of the frame and hang them in there.

rob...

Awesome Robo. Thanks for checking. I love it when a plan comes together. Now to just secure some local non-chemical hygenic bees.....
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SEEYA
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« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2011, 05:18:29 PM »

Great idea. how does the capacity compare to other hives? On a different post there was some concern that a regular(?) 48 in. TBH was undersize for the job and maybe should be stretched to 5 ft. How about splicing the barrels, to increase the length to 48 in.or more? Robo posts show a comb about 22inches by 11 inches ( just a guess!).  How big is too big? Undecided I am just starting out (next spring) and planing to build at least two TBHs and I am trying to minimize my mistakes. Sad Thanks in advance Smiley
« Last Edit: October 26, 2011, 09:38:37 PM by ray » Logged

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nietssemaj
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« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2011, 09:25:54 AM »

Great idea. how does the capacity compare to other hives? On a different post there was some concern that a regular(?) 48 in. TBH was undersize for the job and maybe should be stretched to 5 ft. How about splicing the barrels, to increase the length to 48 in.or more? Robo posts show a comb about 22inches by 11 inches ( just a guess!).  How big is too big? Undecided I am just starting out (next spring) and planing to build at least two TBHs and I am trying to minimize my mistakes. Sad Thanks in advance Smiley


That is a pretty good guess. A standard 55 gallon barrel/drum will be about 24" in diameter and 34.5" long (tall). Using this nifty calculator we can see that 1/2 of this cylinder holds a volume of roughly 7804 cu/in.

Using a similar calculator we can take the dimensions of a trapazoid TBH (the plans from the book we apparent aren't allowed to mention here). 11" H, 5" Bottom, 15.25" top (I'm estimating here, the plans aren't 100% clear).

48" (4ft) long would have a volume of roughly 5346 cu/in
60" (5ft) long would have a volume of roughly 6682.5 cu/in

So a drum TBH would have the volume of a 70" (5ft 10") TBH using the dimensions above.

Just for fun, a 48" (4ft) long drum would have a volume around 10,857 cu/in
A 60" (5ft) would have a volume around 13,572 cu/in

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Robo
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« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2011, 10:19:35 AM »

James,

Some good calculations.  I don't think the volume of the 1/2 barrel hive is too small that it will cause any issues.  I have seen many smaller volume TBHs being used and sold.

Rob...
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nietssemaj
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« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2011, 12:50:13 PM »

Actually depending on how wide/tall your traditional TBH is, the barrel is larger than even a 5ft one. It really depends on the size of the end boards.
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sugarplum
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« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2014, 04:07:31 PM »

Does anyone know if these drums are any good for the colder climates. I would say the coldest minus 15 clecius... I have seen wood TBH s in this area but dont know about the 55 gallon plastic barrel type.. Any help here please
ty dl
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ugcheleuce
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« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2014, 10:39:02 AM »

I *think* that the space inside [a half barrel] will be wide/deep enough to hold a modified medium langstroth frame. At least it seems to be true if my calculations are correct.


How does one calculate that?

I can't calculate, but I can use MS Paint and reach a conclusion with a bit of trial and error -- if my measurements are correct, then your barrel must have a diameter of at least 27 inches.  You can use a 55 gal drum, but you'd have to raise the edges by 2 inches, or don't cut the barrel exactly in half.



I'm sure one must be able to calculate this mathematically.  The question is: how?

« Last Edit: January 05, 2014, 10:54:55 AM by ugcheleuce » Logged

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