Hi Beth & Finman,
Thanks for your kind suggestions. I started with Top Bar Hives but the size I followed from African top bar keepers are too big for asian Apis Cerana which I am dealing with here. Also they just have a greater affinity to set up residence in a coconut trunk hollowed out log which their ancestors has been doing for countless years. I am just trying to get them into movable frame hives so I can make splits, raise queens, see the hive activity etc that I can only read about from your postings.
Money is not a problem with me since I am a doctor by profession & beekeeping is a new hobby which I already have excess equipment waiting to be put to good use. I have at least 10 brood size boxes with frames for 8. I can't get foundation like in US so I layer a 3 inch strip of wax below the top bar of the frame for the bees to start comb building. I also beed them regularly to stimulate hive brood raising. I even have a 15 frame observation hive waiting to be used. The drawback in Malaysia is I can't but selected commercial bred queens to have good bees so I barve whatever turns up in my bait hives. 6 always waiting to catch them in my Durian farm.
I still have 4 hives not three. I had 2 new swarms in bait hives and I lost 2.
Here are more pictures from past postings.
My observation hive capable of 15 frames.
My senion log hive. The other 2 swarms are in similar size enlarged bait hives.
My normal bait hive. Smaller. I presume they prefer the larger ones because they were lived in by bees before I cut them and transfer them to langstroth.
Beth, you may just have hit the nail on the head. They may just be more at home in the more primitive top bar hives. I have one also with wax strips laid in 20 top bars and I shall install them in there when I cut the combs next time. It just seems more difficult to tie a comb to one top bar compared to a frame.