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Author Topic: first year top bar hives going into the winter  (Read 1683 times)
urbanbe
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Location: New York


« on: September 14, 2013, 09:46:46 AM »

What is the minimum combs of brood, pollen and honey do you need to go into the winter? My bars are 16" long.
Trying to figure out weather it is necessary to combine.
Did anybody winter nuc size colonies sucessfuly in Top Bar hive?
I am in North East.
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Oblio13
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Location: Central New Hampshire


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« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2013, 07:15:57 AM »

I've never been able to get my top-bar hive through a winter, but I keep trying. I'm interested in what people will say about this, too.

And if the opinion of an abject failure is worth anything, here goes:

Mike Palmer and Kirk Webster overwinter nucs in Vermont on four deep frames, so I feel like that's the viable minimum. Right now my TBH has bees covering eight frames. There's open and sealed brood scattered around on about half of them. At this point I'm going to pretty much leave them alone to arrange things to their liking.
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JasonERD
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« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2013, 06:01:58 PM »

urbanbe, I have also been looking for an answer to this question.  The best answer that I have found is to have a bar of honey for each bar of clustered bees.  I haven't found a minimum hive size, but one of my books says at least 12 bars (a New Mexico author).  I have 2 first year top bar hives, one with 24 drawn bars and one with about 20.  I also have a warre hive with one box full, they don't seem to want to move to the second box.

Oblio13, I am curious why your hives haven't made it in the past.  I have a top bar hive in southern NH, and am trying to figure out what the major obstacles are In this area.  Do you think they aren't making it because of condensation, starving, freezing, or something else?
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Oblio13
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« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2013, 06:57:47 PM »

The first couple years I installed packages with southern queens, and they just don't do well up here, so I can't blame the hive for that.

The next couple years I installed packages and queens from Sam Comfort in New York. One of them really boomed, then swarmed and left hardly any bees behind. They never built back up and went into winter with a tiny cluster. Last year they starved with honey a couple inches away.

This year I split one of my Langstroth hives and put bees on medium frames in the TBH. I've already cycled all the medium frames back out, and now despite some problems with yellow jackets they're on eight top bar combs about the size of Langstroth deeps. I'm hoping that's enough. I've cut some wood out of the sides of the top bars so that the bees can come up through them if they like. I cover the top bars with a heavy rubber roofing membrane, and I figure that if the bees won't move sideways this winter, I'll put sugar bricks on top of them between the top bars and the rubber membrane.

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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2013, 09:50:52 AM »

I'd try to have between one and two capped combs of honey for every comb of bees going into winter.
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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
TNTBEES
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Location: Manhattan, Montana


« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2013, 11:58:00 AM »

I over wintered one tbh successfully last winter. And I lost one. The one that overwintered was about half as strong as the one that didn't. Can never figure out bee's. I left both hives with 10 bars of honey. The hive that overwintered only used 4 bars. They are carniolans and we are at 5,000 ft. elevation. We have long cold winters. The overwintered hive produced almost 200lbs of honey this year.
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