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Author Topic: Langstroth for Honey; TBH for Wax?  (Read 2307 times)
fivecats
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« on: May 31, 2013, 09:08:36 PM »

I'm interested in keeping bees to harvest honey.  My wife is interested in having me keep bees partially for the honey, but also for the wax.  I want to brew mead; she wants to make soaps, lip balms, and lotions.

From what I've read it seems that the Langstroths are strong honey producers with relatively little wax harvested.  The TBHs look like they will produce less honey but considerably more wax.

Money is an issue in terms of getting hives set up.  I already have a four-box Langstroth (2 deeps; 2 mediums) with frames -- but no bees.  I've looked at the plans for a TBH and feel confident I can build one myself.

Do any of you have opinions on whether I'm right/wrong with my honey-to-wax thinking?  And do any of you have both Langstroths and TBHs that you tend?  What have your experiences with them been?

Many thanks!
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S.Rummings
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« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2013, 10:14:45 PM »

TBH is supposed to be cheap to build because you can make it from scrap. If you already have a Langstroth why don't you just start with that if money is an issue? Hard to beat the price in both time & money with something you already have. I am assuming you have a bottom board and cover too? If not you could certainly build those cheaper and easier than an entire TBH.

I think you will have considerably more support with a Langstroth. I've seen old guys at the bee meeting just turn & walk away when someone mentions top bar. Support & advice is important when starting out and TBH experts are few & far between.

It is said TBH comb has to be crushed to get the honey out but I have seen it extracted in a custom built extractor with minimal damage. If money is an issue you will be crushing it. Every pound of comb you destroy this harvest is 8 pounds of honey you won't have next harvest. You can just as easily crush & strain combs from a Langstroth & lots of people do. You will too if you don't have access to an extractor. So you get more wax from a TBH because you generally don't have a choice. With Langstroth you can take the wax too or optionally extract and get more honey faster so you have a choice.

I say go with what you have now and fiddle with building a TBH as you get time and materials. Yes, many people run both types and they post on here. You can always do a split to populate your TBH when you get it built.

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HomeSteadDreamer
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« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2013, 06:56:01 AM »

If there is a flow on and you aren't producing honey for sale either will give you enough honey.  Like the above poster said you can get wax from either.  I run one of each (special newbie not here, this is my first year).  So far I like the TBH better but I haven't pulled honey on purpose yet. This is a building year for me.  The above poster is right about support though.  You'll find a lot more support from langs with foundation. 

I'd recommend reading some from Michael Bush's website.  He runs langs without frames the info is really good.

If you do build your own anything I'd like to recommend spending the time and money to put in some windows.  We have a TBH with an observation window that runs the length of the hive on both sides.  I love it.  I can peek in on my bees without disturbing them and newbie have a tendency to want to peek.  The glass or plexiglass will cost you a little moeny but well worth it.

I think your best bet it to read some of the literature available and the forums to determine what are your goals. That kind of depends on what kind of hive you run.  For instance,  I run a TBH partly because I want to be able to tend my bees without help and lifting a 50 lb super everytime I want to go in my hive isn't an option.  I'm a girl and capable of lifting 50 lbs but not delicately and I'd prefer the 50 lbs not be full of bees.  I also like not exposing more bees than necessary when looking in the hive.  On the other hand if you want to sell Nucs or swap equipment with others langs are universal and way more accepted.
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TNTBEES
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« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2013, 09:29:52 AM »

I also have 2 -TBH, 2- warre's,  and 4- Long Langs. I started out with 2 TBH's and like the other posters have mentioned I had no help. It's like you have a disease when you mention top bars. I relied on the internet and books and managed quite well. I enjoy both types of hives, frames and no frames. There are unique lessons to be learned from each. Honey is a nice bonus, but I am not commercial so it isn't a priority. We get plenty to use, and give away. We also get plenty of wax as we use foundationless frames. The most important advice I can give is whatever you do start with at least two hives. Something is bound to happen when you have bee's and you don't want to get off to a good start and end up losing your one and only hive.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2013, 09:57:57 AM »

You can run you Langstroth for wax by doing crush and strain for harvest (use foundationless or wax foundation).  You can run a top bar hive for honey by extracting (You may want to plan what size top bars and what extractor).  If you want both, you may as well just do crush and strain.  You really won't get that much wax anyway even if you harvest it all this way.

The object of a Top Bar Hive (TBH) is to be easy and cheap to construct, easy to work (less lifting) and having natural sized cells.   You can get the natural sized cells with a Langstroth as well.

 Why a top bar hive? Why not a top bar hive?

It seems a lot of people get into top bar hives with a lot of misconceptions. They seem to think that a top bar hive is ďnaturalĒ and there is no other way to have a natural hive of bees. Iím not exactly sure where this comes from, but I suppose part of it is that a typical top bar hive has natural comb and a typical Langstroth hive has foundation. But I have seen top bar hives done with foundation, and I have thousands of foundationless frames in Langstroth hives. So if your only reason for going with a top bar hive is to get natural comb, you have other alternatives.

Another is the belief that the shape is more natural. Iíd have to say any shape is natural. Iíve seen bees in soffits, gas tanks, walls of houses, floors of housesÖ bees arenít particular about the shape. I see nothing more or less natural about a top bar hive.

Another is that you want a horizontal hive. But you can build a horizontal Langstroth hive. I have a few and they do just as well as the top bar hives.

I think the real reason for a top bar hive is that you can build it from scraps for next to nothing AND you get the above benefits, to wit: natural comb, (with both natural cell size and clean chemical free wax) no boxes to lift (horizontal). If you want all of these in one combination, then a top bar hive is for you.

Reasons you might not want a top bar hive.

A top bar hive, because it has a limited and fairly constant space, requires more frequent interventions to manage it well. This is not a problem when itís in your back yard and you canít wait to get into the hive. But itís very inconvenient if itís somewhere further away where you have to drive there.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
edward
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« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2013, 07:10:37 PM »

You can run you Langstroth for wax by doing crush and strain for harvest (use foundationless or wax foundation).  You can run a top bar hive for honey by extracting (You may want to plan what size top bars and what extractor).  If you want both, you may as well just do crush and strain.  You really won't get that much wax anyway even if you harvest it all this way.

The object of a Top Bar Hive (TBH) is to be easy and cheap to construct, easy to work (less lifting) and having natural sized cells.   You can get the natural sized cells with a Langstroth as well.

 Why a top bar hive? Why not a top bar hive?

It seems a lot of people get into top bar hives with a lot of misconceptions. They seem to think that a top bar hive is ďnaturalĒ and there is no other way to have a natural hive of bees. Iím not exactly sure where this comes from, but I suppose part of it is that a typical top bar hive has natural comb and a typical Langstroth hive has foundation. But I have seen top bar hives done with foundation, and I have thousands of foundationless frames in Langstroth hives. So if your only reason for going with a top bar hive is to get natural comb, you have other alternatives.

Another is the belief that the shape is more natural. Iíd have to say any shape is natural. Iíve seen bees in soffits, gas tanks, walls of houses, floors of housesÖ bees arenít particular about the shape. I see nothing more or less natural about a top bar hive.

Another is that you want a horizontal hive. But you can build a horizontal Langstroth hive. I have a few and they do just as well as the top bar hives.

I think the real reason for a top bar hive is that you can build it from scraps for next to nothing AND you get the above benefits, to wit: natural comb, (with both natural cell size and clean chemical free wax) no boxes to lift (horizontal). If you want all of these in one combination, then a top bar hive is for you.

Reasons you might not want a top bar hive.

A top bar hive, because it has a limited and fairly constant space, requires more frequent interventions to manage it well. This is not a problem when itís in your back yard and you canít wait to get into the hive. But itís very inconvenient if itís somewhere further away where you have to drive there.

Thank-you I couldn't agree more  applause


mvh Edward  tongue
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Col Collyer
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« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2013, 06:49:08 AM »

Michael will ba able to answer this... maybe you can get the best of both worlds. I built what could best be discribed as a "Horizontal Lang", 4 foot long. The lida I made as 2 the same as langs, and a smaller one to fill the gap. Now, during a floe, I can put a lang on top, and the girls will fill it with honey, and nice new comb.
 I have only done it once, and it seemed to work OK
 Cheers
 Col
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byathread
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« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2013, 11:28:55 PM »

I am a fellow mead maker and new TBH beekeeper. Two points that may be of interest (though they are purely my inexperienced impressions):

1) I think one advantage to a mead maker in using TBHs (using the crush and strain method for harvest) is that it is very simple and efficient to harvest just one or two combs at a time in order to capture a varietal honey flow. I enjoy having a variety of honey with which to work.

2) I have been surprised at the high ratio of honey/wax. By weight, I'm getting at least 90% honey yield. And that last bit of honey clinging to thr wax can easily be rinsed in warm water to form the basis for your must.

That being said, as others have pointed out, its still cheaper to use the equipment you already have. And drawing wax is more energy-intensive for the bees than putting up honey stores, so Langstroth (with traditional foundation) will be more efficient in that regard.

Cheers,
Kirk
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alfred
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« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2013, 01:41:00 PM »

I do crush and strain with my Lang hives. I use mostly foundationless frames. I pull a few frames now and then and simply cut the comb out of them and crush away!

 
Quote
I have been surprised at the high ratio of honey/wax. By weight, I'm getting at least 90% honey yield.
This isn't a function of it being a TBH you would get the same with a lang doing foundationless, or even a Warre.

Quote
And that last bit of honey clinging to thr wax can easily be rinsed in warm water to form the basis for your must.
Do you mean that you rinse off the comb before you put it back into the hive? Why not just put it back in and let the bees clean it? Or if you are rinsing out the crushed wax before using it as candles why not heat it all and allow the layers to settle and then be able to pour off the last of the honey?

If I was you I would use the gear that I already have to get started and do a lang maybe go foundationless or not. Then also do a THB if you want. This way you have both to play with. It is always better to have more than one hive anyway.
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byathread
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« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2013, 11:46:27 PM »

Quote
I have been surprised at the high ratio of honey/wax. By weight, I'm getting at least 90% honey yield.
This isn't a function of it being a TBH you would get the same with a lang doing foundationless, or even a Warre.

Right, any foundationless approach. I am just new to beekeeping and marveling at the engineering wonder that is honey comb!

Quote
Do you mean that you rinse off the comb before you put it back into the hive? Why not just put it back in and let the bees clean it? Or if you are rinsing out the crushed wax before using it as candles why not heat it all and allow the layers to settle and then be able to pour off the last of the honey?

I don't want to heat the honey and I'm making mead regardless. If not, I'd just let the bees clean up the crushed wax.

Cheers,
Kirk
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