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Author Topic: Why are top bar hives perceived as inferior?  (Read 15000 times)
wff
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« on: January 03, 2007, 04:47:31 PM »

Is it just because they're different than the norm?
Is it lack of gadgets and accessories? (easily overcome)
Is it because they don't use foundation?
Is it just because "lower tech" is associated with "lower quality"?
Is it because they move horizontally instead of vertically?
Is it just because we know how to manage vertially better than we know how to manage horizontally?
Is it just fear of change after 100 years of success with langs?

Lots of people have told me they're just inferior to langs.  Most people who tell me that have never used them.  I'm a long way from being an expert at managing bees in anything, but I've used both and I don't see any inherent reason that a colony can't be just as productive in a TBH as in a lang.  Is it just perception and fear of change, or is there a real, tangible limitation that I'm not seeing?
« Last Edit: January 03, 2007, 08:14:41 PM by wff » Logged
Michael Bush
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« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2007, 07:51:59 PM »

>Is it just because they're different than the norm?

Yes.

>Is it lack of gadgets and accessories? (easily overcome)

Maybe.

>Is it because they don't use foundation?

Probably.

>Is it just because "lower tech" is associated with "lower quality"?

Yes.

>Is it because they move horizontally instead of vertically?

I don't know but there does seem to be a lot of prejudice against that (ask Finsky, he hates long hives).

>Is it just because we know how to manage vertially better than we know how to manage horizontally?

Yes.

>Is it just fear of change after 100 years of success with langs?

Not so much that as every bee book since the late 1800s has praised the Langstroth hive and cursed everything else as unscientific and unhygienic.  That's a lot of propaganda to overcome.

The main disadvantage is they require more FREQUENT work to keep them from swarming and keep them productive.  Those manipulations require less lifting, but if your hives are in an outyard 60 miles away (not uncommon) they are not very practical.  On the other hand if they are in your backyard, you'll work less and lift less.

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wff
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« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2007, 08:33:55 PM »

Not so much that as every bee book since the late 1800s has praised the Langstroth hive and cursed everything else as unscientific and unhygienic.  That's a lot of propaganda to overcome.

The main disadvantage is they require more FREQUENT work to keep them from swarming and keep them productive.  Those manipulations require less lifting, but if your hives are in an outyard 60 miles away (not uncommon) they are not very practical.  On the other hand if they are in your backyard, you'll work less and lift less.

Propaganda is a powerful tool.  I've always thought it interesting that most of the equipment supply houses sell "how to" beekeeping guides that make it sound like you need every gadget they sell.

I can see where more frequent work could be a draw back, especially for someone with several spread out bee yards.  But that's a disadvantage to the beekeeper, not to the bees, and it can be overcome by management decisions.  Lay out your beeyards like a trapline and you should have no problem hitting 5 or six different yards each weekend, even if the nodes are 60 miles from home.
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Finsky
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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2007, 05:16:18 AM »

.
In your case you may play without foundations but it does not help bees beyond the edge of bees' natural area.

Foundation has 100 g wax ( 0,2 lbs). When bees draw the foundation they exrevere wax same measure.

For one Langstroth comb they need  200 g wax. Whole box need 2 kg wax.  1 kg wax needs  6-8 kg honey + pollen.  To draw combs without foundations needs  15 kg honey (30 lbs). So half is saved if you use foundation.

Feeding larvae strains young bees most. Second big  effort is to exrecete wax and build combs.

Natural beekeeping is a exertion to bees, it is more expencive than "commercial", and gives a lot smaller honey yield.  I se no advantage in beekeeping without foundations.  But if you feel better when you have "natural beekeeping" in Alaska, it is good for your soul.

No beekeping is natural in Finland or Alaska because bees cannot live here in nature as feral bees. They survive short time and die off. Varroa destroyed all our "natural" bees. But they were merely escaped swarms.

.   
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empilolo
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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2007, 06:00:15 AM »


In all fairness, I would say both hive types have their differences and, in consequence, their uses (and fan clubs).

Unless I eventually succeed breeding a gentler African Bee (or somebody else hands them to me on a platter), I won't ever consider using a Langstroth.

Now a lot depends on perspective. Finsky is looking at Honey in a capital way. Well, my wife is going organic local cosmetics, using the TBH "excess" wax as a raw material. Just look at what women are prepared to spend on cosmetics and you will agree with me that honey is of little consequence (to most).

Using appropriate management techniques, according to the type of hive, they "probably" produce on a par. Here, I am in full agreement with Finsky that production depends on the quantity and quality of forage for the bees, but not on the type of hive you use.

If you have a negative preconception, the results will be negative if you ever try. Sorry Finsky, but if you ever try a TBH, the api-bards will sing epic songs about it for decades.
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Finsky
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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2007, 07:21:34 AM »


 Sorry Finsky, but if you ever try a TBH, the api-bards will sing epic songs about it for decades.

Yes, I have had many kind of epic songs. I searches always something new but not only on the are of beekeping.

I begun my beekeeping 45 years ago at the age of 15. I have seen many things.  I started when beekeeping was in Finland near level of TBH.  My very good teacher has worked in Canada and brought American way to nurse bees. 

Most wjat I hate now that adult beekeeprs cannot read and cannot find knowledge what is in this wold. They just like to find their own mehtod and explane them with their imagination. Eglish people I wonder because they have knowledge in internet in their own langusage and still they are able to search and learn.

I have all my life kept nature as my hobby. I have had all kinds of animals, and I have had orchids and many difficult flowers.

I am master in science in biology and studied in university.  I have  researches education and it teach how to play with facts.  I have worked in envinronmental protection.  It was awfull. Half of work was dig out information but still you should speakt where you do not believe.

I cannot se nothing funny or interesting in TBH hives.  They do not satify my need of knowledge. It is just between ears in imagination.

If I want to play imagination play I have had hobby 30 years stock investing. Now I have studied it and by the way in the year 2006  my brutto earning rate was 49%.


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wff
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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2007, 11:58:41 AM »

.
In your case you may play without foundations but it does not help bees beyond the edge of bees' natural area.

Foundation has 100 g wax ( 0,2 lbs). When bees draw the foundation they exrevere wax same measure.

For one Langstroth comb they need  200 g wax. Whole box need 2 kg wax.  1 kg wax needs  6-8 kg honey + pollen.  To draw combs without foundations needs  15 kg honey (30 lbs). So half is saved if you use foundation.

Feeding larvae strains young bees most. Second big  effort is to exrecete wax and build combs.

So it sounds like the foundationless aspect is what you object to.  I can understand that as a concern.  I'm not sure I buy the claim that it takes twice as much honey and pollen to draw comb from scratch, because I don't think there's an equal amount of wax in the foundation as in the cell walls.

If that is the primary weakness, what do you think of Michael Bush's horizontal hives with frames?  Are they equal to a lang?

Quote
Natural beekeeping is a exertion to bees, it is more expencive than "commercial",

This is the same argument I hear about farming anything in Alaska. They say "we have 6 inch walls in our barns in Wyoming so you'll have to have 14" walls in Fairbanks to make it easy on the animals, and that will be very expensive."  They say "our livestock doesn't go outside when it's 0F so you'll have to keep yours inside all winter long, and that will be very expensive."  They say "you can't have angora goats kid when it's colder than 40F or they won't survive, so you'll have to schedule your kidding to be in the summer, then you'll be weaning in the winter and won't be able to sell kids until the next year."  When I say you can get around some of those things by using different methods, they say "Oh, you'll fail if you don't use state-of-the-art modern agri-industrial methods."  They are always wrong.

Intensive management using industrially proven methods is very expensive in the sub-arctic, no matter what you're producing.  Extensive management, with intensive focus on some key aspects (exactly what TBHs were designed for) is almost always as successful, less resource-intensive (though sometimes more labor intensive), and less expensive in the long run.  It is certainly possible that bees will be the species that are an exception to that, but it seems unlikely to me.

Quote
and gives a lot smaller honey yield.

I've heard this claimed many times, but I've never seen it tested in a controlled experiment.  Even if it is true, though, consider that honey is not the only product of a hive.  There is a huge exchange in beeswax in my area, and it's virtually all brought in from outside.  Also, it's not hard in the summer time to find jars of locally produced honey at the farmers' market.  However, there's a huge market base of people interested in organic/animal-friendly/naturally produced foods here.  If I can produce cut comb honey in "more bee-friendly hives" then I can double the price and draw the same income from half as many hives.  Again, it's no different than other things I produce.  Most angora goat keepers say if you're not making money on mohair, you're not making money on your goats.  I sell all the mohair I can produce, but I make more selling meat goats and goat kids.

Quote
  I se no advantage in beekeeping without foundations.  But if you feel better when you have "natural beekeeping" in Alaska, it is good for your soul.

Good for your soul is the most important commodity of all.  Otherwise I wouldn't live where I do, I wouldn't be farming, and I wouldn't be an artist.

Quote
No beekeping is natural in Finland or Alaska because bees cannot live here in nature as feral bees. They survive short time and die off. Varroa destroyed all our "natural" bees. But they were merely escaped swarms.

I won't disagree with that.  As I've said before, very little on my farm is natural in Alaska.  Firewood and lingonberries, yes, everything else wouldn't survive one winter here without my help.  The biggest organic farmer in the area grows most of his produce in greenhouses or heated raised beds.  Nothing natural about that.  I'm not the one who said the TBH it was natural.  However  I am convinced it's more "bee friendly," and (besides being good for my soul) I'm positive I can turn that into a marketing advantage.


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wff
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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2007, 12:17:48 PM »


Most wjat I hate now that adult beekeeprs cannot read and cannot find knowledge what is in this wold. They just like to find their own mehtod and explane them with their imagination. Eglish people I wonder because they have knowledge in internet in their own langusage and still they are able to search and learn.

I have all my life kept nature as my hobby. I have had all kinds of animals, and I have had orchids and many difficult flowers.

I am master in science in biology and studied in university.  I have  researches education and it teach how to play with facts.  I have worked in envinronmental protection.  It was awfull. Half of work was dig out information but still you should speakt where you do not believe.

I cannot se nothing funny or interesting in TBH hives.  They do not satify my need of knowledge. It is just between ears in imagination.

If I want to play imagination play I have had hobby 30 years stock investing. Now I have studied it and by the way in the year 2006  my brutto earning rate was 49%.

You and I have much in common, Finsky.  I also hold a Master of Science in Natural Resources Management, and have been trained as a researcher.  I also work in environmental and land management.  I also have kept animals and plants all my life.  I also research things in great depth and strive to make informed decisions.  I also often get frustrated with people who have the same information available to them but come to differnt conclusions than I do.  But I have to remember that that's how science works, and how life works.  There are many different ways to achieve the same end.  I build mathematical models of natural systems, and I know that changing a few apparently insignificant factors can entirely change the outcome of a system.  That can make small mistakes turn into a disaster, but it can also be used to develop innovative managment techniques.

The beekeeper I worked for in the 1970's (I wouldn't call him a mentor) is no longer alive, but if he was he would call me "dumber than a doodle bug" for considering anything other than his methods.  He'd probably call you crazy for using insulated hives and terrarium heaters and for not using queen excluders, too.  He'd probably call Michael Bush a witch, because he makes things work with methods that are totally contrary to what he believed possible.

Which brings me back to my original question.  It sounds as though the foundationless aspect is your primary objection to top bar hives.  If that's the case, what do you think of Michael Bush's horizontal hives with frames and foundation?
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Finsky
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« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2007, 02:13:52 PM »

, what do you think of Michael Bush's horizontal hives with frames and foundation?

When I started my beekeeping, horizontal hives were the most used 50 years ago in Finland. M Brother moved to northern Sweden 1970 and there were no Langstroths. - There is nothing new to.  When I started, I went to library, I looked what is good hive and then I made them 4 hives. They were so called long hives "turn around" hives. Two entrances and you may devide hive room with wall.  They were 2 years and I burned them and I made Langstroth hives.

Now it is difficult to find horizontal hives in Finland. They were very heavy. Beekeepers are old men mostly. Average age is between 70 - 80 years.

Why Lanstroths and 2/3 mediums? - They are easy to handle. There is nothing more mystery. It is easy to get eguipments what you nees.
Many beekeeprs are fond of construct all kind of bottom boards, inner covers and what ever. They like beekeeping as mechanics. Beekeeprs try many kinds of hivesystems and  love them.

What I need is easy handle and easy to myself. I take my hives every year to outer yadrs and I try to find good pastures. It is very importart to me that hiveparst fits to each other.

I have seen that women are not able to lift even full medium box from top of hive. In this case horizontal hives would be coud when that lady does not transfer hives from her home.  Her hives swarmed awfully because she cannot nurse them. But she had not even done good bottom boards or inner covers. It is better to say nothing.

If someone like horizontal hives there is no excuses if he does it.  There is no reason to ban other hive models. In Eastern Erope hive are best to be very heavy that they are not easy to steal. That is great advantage.

My style and opinion is that get a good queen, get big hive and fill them with bees and take hives to best pastures. That is my formula and I have enough to do with that.



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Finsky
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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2007, 02:20:29 PM »


40 years old  horizontal hive from Finland "turn around hive". Now it is decoration of post box.

And second hive is from Russia. The most beautyfull hive what I have seen. Lets hope that it is top bar hive.






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Finsky
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« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2007, 02:24:55 PM »

  I'm not sure I buy the claim that it takes twice as much honey and pollen to draw comb from scratch, because I don't think there's an equal amount of wax in the foundation as in the cell walls.
[/quote]

Never mind. I just know that it is. And there are a lot researches on issue.

I just told what I know and it is not worth religion.
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wff
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« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2007, 02:59:24 PM »


40 years old  horizontal hive from Finland "turn around hive". Now it is decoration of post box.

Interesting. Looking at it, I'm guessing the top 1/3 is a super and it has frames inside?

Quote
And second hive is from Russia. The most beautyfull hive what I have seen. Lets hope that it is top bar hive.

Yes, it is beautiful, and the beekeeper is pretty attractive too!  grin  But I'll bet it's not a top bar hive.  I'd guess it's two deeps and the interior of the roof is not available to the bees.

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Finsky
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« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2007, 03:20:22 PM »

, I'm guessing the top 1/3 is a super and it has frames inside?


The the outer cover is deeply telescopic. The line in the middle of hive is bottom edge of cover.

Frames were  feet x feet .  (30 cm x 30 cm)
The lowest chest was for 20 frames.
Supers were what ever woden box and frames useally lower.

Now queen lays so much there is not enough room for big colony.

What is important it has thick insulation gap inside walls and saw dust there.

In boath ends there was similar entrance. In pic it is closed.



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Jorn Johanesson
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« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2007, 04:09:15 PM »

In Denmark we still have horizontal hives like this shown by fin sky. You can also by drawings to such hives. But they are only in use by old timers and those with a bad back. Limitation is 18-22 frames in the hive and one or to magazines of 10 frames on top.

As easy to work with (Handling is frame by frame) as difficult to move around with. Two men are needed, because not alone the weight of bees and wax but dimensions is unhandy handling, and then water accumulated in the insulation of newspaper, wool or whatever was used. I stated out with four hives of this type, bought from an old-timer beekeeper that gave beekeeping up. It took me two years to realize that this was not the type for me. I wanted to move my bees around to get Carnolian and heather honey, plus benefit from the gardens around, so vertical hives with boxes of ten frames each was the solution, later Lang troth size. If I as bee inspector had meet top bar hives with not changeable frames or frameless combs I had ordered those burnt, because they could not be easily examined for diseases.
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wff
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« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2007, 04:18:40 PM »

If I as bee inspector had meet top bar hives with not changeable frames or frameless combs I had ordered those burnt, because they could not be easily examined for diseases.

I'm not sure I understand.  A top bar hive, by definition, has combs attached to bars that can be removed one at a time.  If they can be individually lifted and examined, what does it matter whether they have frames around them or not?
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Mici
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« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2007, 04:33:30 PM »

If I as bee inspector had meet top bar hives with not changeable frames or frameless combs I had ordered those burnt, because they could not be easily examined for diseases.


the old way of actually beeKEEPING and not beefarming, what it is today
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wff
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« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2007, 04:34:19 PM »

, I'm guessing the top 1/3 is a super and it has frames inside?


The the outer cover is deeply telescopic. The line in the middle of hive is bottom edge of cover.

Frames were  feet x feet .  (30 cm x 30 cm)
The lowest chest was for 20 frames.
Supers were what ever woden box and frames useally lower.

Did they use foundation in the 1'x1' frames?  If so, was it cut from sheets, or molded, or did someone manufacture foundation in that size? 

Quote
Now queen lays so much there is not enough room for big colony.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean here.  20 12x12 frames would be approximately the same volume as two deeps on a lang.  That should house a large colony if there's some way to super, shouldn't it?  As Michael pointed out above, it would take more frequent work than stacking 5 or 6 boxes high.  But if you could visit weekly, isn't it enough?

Quote
What is important it has thick insulation gap inside walls and saw dust there.

That is similar to the TBH I am working on building, except I'm using polystyrene insulation boards.  It's much lighter than sawdust, much better insulator, and doesn't hold moisture.

It goes to show, though, that horizontal hives are not new, and not just African TBHs.  Langstroth hives certainly have some advantages for the beekeeper, and especially for migratory beekeepers.  I'm still not convinced they are inherently better or more productive, though.
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« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2007, 04:47:20 PM »

if it doesn't hold moist it also doesn't breathe. try imagine living in a cealed of house?

Off course horizontal hives aren't new, in fact, they are the oldest manmade wodden hives.

http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php?topic=6211.0
http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php?topic=6172.0
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Jorn Johanesson
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« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2007, 05:07:15 PM »

I'm not sure I understand.  A top bar hive, by definition, has combs attached to bars that can be removed one at a time.  If they can be individually lifted and examined, what does it matter whether they have frames around them or not?

A frame around is stabilizing the comb so that it can be turned up down and a around making it possible to examine the comb in its entirely. Try to turn a new wireless frameless comb up down when there is brood and homey in it. And I am not sure that you can lift all those out if the combs are build directly on the bars, that serves as roof. I would not waste my time examining this hive, just demand it burned. When I say this, you must be aware of that we have very strict rules about keeping bees here in Denmark. I am not sure it will serve the american way of doing things.
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Jorn Johanesson
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« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2007, 05:21:04 PM »

if it doesn't hold moist it also doesn't breathe. try imagine living in a cealed of house?

Off course horizontal hives aren't new, in fact, they are the oldest manmade wodden hives.

http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php?topic=6211.0
http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php?topic=6172.0


Available polystyrene hives in Denmark:



LN -DK12x10 - NM - LS - DA.
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