>I had the hives leveled well. I rechecked them about 3 weeks after setting the hives and releveled before my installs. I mounted the TBH's each on a sawhorse type set up since I have dogs and they rough house and I didn't want to just set them on blocks because I was afraid the dogs would topple them. I leveled when I set the hives out and again a couple of weeks later but today, looking at the comb, it's clear they seem to be continuing to settle.
In Wyoming I would not put them up high as the wind will catch them. I would put them down low. I don't know where you are in Wyoming but everywhere I ever was (I lived in Laramie and traveled the state a bit) the wind never stopped howling...
>I started a brand new pair of top bar hives on April 26th. I placed the packages in the space from bars 1-8 or 9. I have end entrances. I placed a follower board type syrup feeder at the back in the space 9 position and since it was super cold here in Wyoming I made candy boards that hung like combs and hung them in space 1. They were a little shorter than full height so the bees could come in the front entrance and then go under the candy boards to the cluster/soon to be brood nest area. I released the queens directly as per M. Bush's advice. I checked on day 4 or 5 and everything looked ok. I checked at 7 days and they had 3-4 nice combs per hive built. There was still considerable syrup and considerable candy on the boards. The combs were toward the middle space of the bars from when thinking from side to side (they weren't full width yet) so, at that point, everything looked GREAT.
So far so good.
>Fast forward to today and I have a cross comb mess going on in there. I forgot, in my newbee way, to consider the candy boards in their empty state. I accounted for "bee space" with them considering them full. Well, once the girls ate their way through them, which they did nicely, they built into them. Needless to say my first bar is INCREDIBLY deep. My first real bar was hanging just behind this candy board and they built it out like double deep. It's massive!!!! Next issue seems to be some continued settling.
The main thing is the the last comb from which they gauge the next comb they build is withing the bar width and straight. If you do that then they will build the next one parallel to that one. To get more straight comb you can also insert (one at a time until they are drawn) bars between straight combs. You can leave the massive one if you leave it on the end where it isn't contributing to another bad comb. Then when you get ready to harvest take that one.
>So, I know I have to figure out the leveling thing. That's a given. My questions are these...
Level is always a good thing and more so with foundationless, but if they are off some it's not so bad. A top bar hive is better than a foundationless as being too far off with foundationless you end up with the bottom of the comb attached to the frame next door...
>1. What to do with frame #1. There's brood and capped stores in this bar. I want to move it to the back of the brood nest and eventually out entirely but I wonder about the sacrifice in new bees for these new packages.
If you put it at the back they will use it as a guide for the next one which will make it wrong. Better to have it all the way in the front where it does not mislead a comb.
> For right now I moved it to the back of the brood nest but I know they'll just keep building messy until I can get it sorted out of there.
They build parallel combs. The last comb before the empty space they will build in is the most essential to have straight and perfect.
>2. How do I prompt them to build me a couple of really nice frames so I can checker them in to promote straight combs from here on out.
Put empty bars between straight combs. Just do it one at a time and do then next when the first is drawn.
> I don't want to split the cluster too much since there are still some cold nights happening here (in the high 20's to low 30's). They have to keep themselves as well as the brood warm. I know that tough if they are scattered.
Wow! Still in the 20s? You must be in a pretty high altitude. If they are strong enough to fill the gap with festooning bees they will probably do ok, but you might want to wait to open the brood nest up. Just make sure the last comb (where they are going to build the next comb) is as perfect as you have, and if none are, build a frame and cut a comb out and tie it in the frame so it's perfectly straight.
>I am pretty much alone in this endeavor. No mentors here since Wyoming is apparently not really beekeeping territory. Smiley I don't have any foundation to give them. I can get some if that would be best but I am trying to stay totally clean and chemical free. I want to get them off to a good start. I know what to do. I have to get them some straight combs to insert into the brood nest to filter out the crappy ones I let them build.
Anytime you tie a brood comb in a frame you can get a straight comb.
>Right now they have bars 2-3-4 pushed forward. I put bar 1 further back but it's so proud on the front side that I know that will negatively impact the bars now in front of it. I tried to straighten out the cross comb by freeing in and for lack of a better word "squishing" the top edge back to the bar it should be on. I used a zip tie on one of them to see if that helps hold it straight while the bees rework it.
In theory a good plan. In practice it takes a bit of finesse and you need to do it carefully. If it didn't fall and it's now in line with the bar, you did fine.http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm#superior