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Author Topic: a top bar train of thought ride to the wrong station?  (Read 4566 times)
snowdog
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« on: April 08, 2012, 06:14:09 AM »

It all seems so simple. Get blueprints and material before building the hives.

The plans i started with were english. 48 inches long, 15 wide and 11 deep. Leaning sides in typical kenyan style. Entrance holes on the side and two false backs (or dividers).

The problem was if the design would winter well in my climate. The winter is long and cold here in Lapland. What others find in christmas stories, like reindeer, we find in nature here. We still have snow.

To answer the question i went agoogling and found some answers here and some there. Most of the answers were found at the bushfarm. The design of the hive there was only slightly different to the one i already knew. More sketchy than the english design, but more detailed on how to winter it. To be on the safe side i registered here and asked Michael. He said the hive design would do fine here.

Back to google to find some place that could sell the twelve inch wide planks. Should be an easy thing. ...not. The widest planks i could find were 220 millimeter (roughly 8 2/3"). Building from glued planks is an obvious solution, but i have no workshop and just a small apartment. But maybe the hive could be built from the narrower planks? The backyard hive seemed to be built like that, with three equally wide planks.

With my trusty calculator i soon got some results. If the hive was built 120 cm (48") long then the inner volume of it would be roughly 72 liters.

Yet again back to the site of the big search engine company, this time to compare volumes and sizes. An inside volume of at least 40-60 liters seemed fine. Happiness.

Then I found the plans at Dennis Murrell's site. ...and the explanations to the measures of a top bar hive. A hive for northern climate should have big comb and be quite short. A short and chubby hive. Mine is long and slim which seems perfect for ... California or Arizona.

Is the 220 triple plank design all wrong for Lapland or do i have to go back to the drawing board again?
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SEEYA
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« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2012, 08:23:43 AM »

My OPINION: Build it YOUR way and insulate. Have fun and good luck.
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« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2012, 09:45:19 AM »

The nice thing about TBH's is that you can adjust the volume to fit the size of the colony by moving the dividers.
I build mine with an entrance on the end rather than the middle but that is just my way.
I cannot buy planks the right size either so I have to make them out of thin strips and edge glue them together.  Just make sure the edges are straight and square to each other.  Use exterior glue and clamp well.  You can do it in a closet if you have to, it just takes more time.
The bees will cluster around the brood frames so keep the dividers close to the group.  Keep supplemental food over the center of the  cluster and Insulate.  I would suggest foam 100 mm thick.
Hope this helps.
Joe
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snowdog
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« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2012, 11:46:26 AM »

The important question has to be... "What is the size of the winter cluster?" If the diameter is more than 8 inches then my design is too shallow.
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luvin honey
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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2012, 02:32:27 PM »

Keep supplemental food over the center of the  cluster and Insulate. 
How do you do this? Aren't your bars tight together? Any gaps in mine are propylized.
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luvin honey
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« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2012, 02:33:18 PM »

The important question has to be... "What is the size of the winter cluster?" If the diameter is more than 8 inches then my design is too shallow.
I could be wrong on this, but I assume the bees would just spread out horizontally (depth wise) if they don't have enough room in height or width.
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snowdog
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« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2012, 04:52:23 PM »

Luvin honey, it's that spreading that i hope to avoid. The smaller the surface area of the cluster is, the better. ...or rather i hope it is. ...and the cluster seems to be roughly 10-12 inches.

So i went back to the drawing board. Instead of using one board per side there will be two (at 22x145mm each). The bottom is single board of the same dimension. By adding some vertical pieces i hope the design will hold together anyway. There will be no glues involved, just screws.

The size of this hive design is very close to the Bush TBH.
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Robo
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« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2012, 05:13:04 PM »

Another thing to think about, and the reason I don't like horizontal TBH in my climate, is that it is much easier for a cluster of bees to move vertically up comb to new stores as a cluster,  than it is for them to move horizontally across combs.  Heat naturally rises and the bees can follow.  Think of how feral bees in a tree build a nest.   If you get long periods of cold, without any warm spells,  the bees can easily starve right next to stores, because they can't break cluster to get to it.

Have you considered a vertical TBH (Warre)?   Your ~8" boards are perfect for a Warre hive.
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snowdog
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« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2012, 05:12:27 AM »

I did consider Warrť hives. The book about the people's hive was the first bee book added to my portable archive and i can very much imagine having that type of hive somewhere in the future. But using horizontal hives will (hopefully) make my beekeeping better in two ways:

1. Less heavy lifting.

2. A more hands on approach.

One of the advantages of the people's hive is the ability to leave the bees alone to do their stuff. But to learn about how they do it, i have to be more intrusive. It's possible to look inside a hTBH through a very small opening, making the process easier for the bees.


Quote from: Michael Bush
Question: Top Bar Hives were developed in Africa right? So it's a tropical hive?

Answer: Actually they were developed in Greece thousands of years ago, and then used in many other places. But the real concern seems to be that there is a belief that bees won't move horizontally. Obviously this is not true. I've seen hives in hollow horizontal branches, I've seen them in floors, and I've overwintered them in Horizontal hives, both TBHs and Langstroth frame hives. Bees do tend to only move in one direction when clustered and have trouble changing direction in a cluster in the cold. But they don't seem to care if that direction is horizontal or vertical. Trough hives (chest hives, or whatever else you wish to call a horizontal hive) have been kept in Scandinavian countries for centuries. According to Eva Crane horizontal hives are now and have always been the most popular form of hive from Scandinavia to the tropics.
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Robo
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« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2012, 06:31:00 AM »

It's possible to look inside a hTBH through a very small opening, making the process easier for the bees.

You can put observation windows in Warre hives as well


Another quote from Michael Bush:

Bees continue to survive despite our help.


« Last Edit: May 01, 2012, 08:03:06 AM by Robo » Logged

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Michael Bush
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« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2012, 07:21:44 AM »

I don't know that a short fat hive would do better than a long one.  Maybe.  I have one of each right now and they both winter most winters.  I don't know how cold you get but -27 F for a couple of weeks is not unheard of and has not killed mine.
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snowdog
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« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2012, 05:01:27 PM »

I don't know that a short fat hive would do better than a long one.  Maybe.  I have one of each right now and they both winter most winters.  I don't know how cold you get but -27 F for a couple of weeks is not unheard of and has not killed mine.

Thoughts
Each of the combs should be as small as possible while allowing a normal cluster to fit because harvesting whole combs of honey should be easier than cutting parts of bigger comb. Smaller comb fit easier in the harvesting bucket too. A hive with smaller combs should also be easier to "shrink" (with a false back) for the winter.
 
The hive should be as long as possible (for a larger volume) while still being possible to handle by oneself (empty). In my case that would be about 120cm (4 feet). Hives with bee colonies needs to be lifted by two anyway.

Might try making the bottom board 195mm or even 220mm wide instead of 145mm to increase the volume of the hive slightly and change the angles of the side walls to fit catenary curves better. Using boards with only one width has advantages too, though.


-27F means roughly -33C... we had that cold during this winter, but only for a couple of days. My air-to-air heat pump only needs assistance twenty or so days and it heats my humble abode down to -24C/-11F. The air is pretty dry during the winter. So your design for the hive should work here too, even with the minor adjustments for lumber size. How did your medium sized tanzanian top bar hives winter?


Robo
An observation window would be great but i still need to sort out crooked comb when that happens. For simplicity my hives will need to be built without windows.
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2012, 05:57:29 PM »

Var  nŚnstans i Sverige?
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Robo
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« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2012, 05:59:29 PM »

but i still need to sort out crooked comb when that happens.

I don't understand the need to straighten out crooked comb in a Warre hive.   Furthermore at ~8" wide comb curving is not an issue.  I don't see bees curving comb until it gets more than 12" wide.  I have never had any wonky comb with Warre hives.

You have seemed to rule out other options, so I will wish you luck.

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Michael Bush
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« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2012, 01:31:48 AM »

>How did your medium sized tanzanian top bar hives winter?

I didn't have bees in it this last winter, but it went through several winters before that.
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Michael Bush
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snowdog
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« Reply #15 on: May 02, 2012, 02:49:17 PM »

FRAMEshift
I'm located in the south of Lapland, roughly 130 kilometers from UmeŚ.

Robo
I need to have a hive that allows some comb manipulations. Normal use of warrť hives suggests leaving the bees to do their thing. I'm not ruling out anything at this moment, but i have to begin somewhere. ...so thanks. Smiley

Michael Bush
Your TTBH is shallower than your KTBH if i remember correctly. What size is the comb of the TTBH?
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #16 on: May 02, 2012, 03:31:49 PM »

FRAMEshift
I'm located in the south of Lapland, roughly 130 kilometers from UmeŚ.


I lived in UmeŚ for a year, in 1981.  Worked at the University. 

We use horizontal hives with standard deep Lang frames.  My climate is pretty warm and we use screened bottom boards.  Having all the frames (33) in a single box makes manipulations alot easier.
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« Reply #17 on: May 02, 2012, 05:16:55 PM »

Another thing to think about, and the reason I don't like horizontal TBH in my climate, is that it is much easier for a cluster of bees to move vertically up comb to new stores as a cluster,  than it is for them to move horizontally across combs

I guess that you can rule out overwintering nucs and single deeps then.  I am in zone 4 and don't seem to have the problems that you do.

Bob
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« Reply #18 on: May 02, 2012, 06:01:46 PM »

I guess that you can rule out overwintering nucs and single deeps then.  I am in zone 4 and don't seem to have the problems that you do.

Bob

One can validate any conclusion they wish when comparing apples to oranges.
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2012, 06:36:30 PM »

Another thing to think about, and the reason I don't like horizontal TBH in my climate, is that it is much easier for a cluster of bees to move vertically up comb to new stores as a cluster,  than it is for them to move horizontally across combs.  Heat naturally rises and the bees can follow.  Think of how feral bees in a tree build a nest.   If you get long periods of cold, without any warm spells,  the bees can easily starve right next to stores, because they can't break cluster to get to it.

I don't really get the logic of this.  In a stack of Langstroth boxes, if the bees start winter at the bottom, they are far from the heat that rises to the top of the stack.  But in horizontal hives, the cluster is always near the top where the heat is.  If the bees don't move horizontally, maybe it's because they don't need to because they are already warm.

But Michael Bush says that in his Nebraska climate the bees in Langs cluster at the top of the stack and stay there all winter. ... while the bees in his horizontal hives move to the stores.  In our North Carolina climate the cluster stays at one end where it starts.  It's warm enough that they can move stores as needed.

As to the issue of bees dying next to stores, yes I've seen that... in a very warm winter.  It happened because the hive went queenless and the cluster shrank until there were not enough bees to keep warm,  regardless of how much food was available.
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