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Author Topic: Kenya Top Bar Hives  (Read 1273 times)
Moonshae
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« on: June 04, 2007, 07:33:52 AM »

I was on Michael Bush's site, and was curious about the top Kenya bar hives. I'd like to try this at some point, but I want to understand what's involved in management beyond the points on the site.

How do you start a hive in what seems to be a very large box? Presumably, it would take quite a while for a swarm or a package to be able to handle the full volume of the box, so couldn't pests be an issue with that much extra space?

Since honey space needs to be kept open during the season, how do you remove the bees from each bar? A bee brush? Methods for a Lang hive don't seem likely to work with this.

To make space for brood in the spring (empty bars), do you just remove empty combs from the bars (and any excess honey you think will not be needed) and replace them? Do you move the remaining honey near the cluster and let the bees build new comb and move it away, or do you leave empty bars between the current brood space and the first bar of honey?

How do you reduce the entrance in the winter to keep out mice, etc, especially if the cluster is working from one end to the other?

Thanks!
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annette
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« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2007, 08:43:42 PM »

I would like to know about this also.  Someone please reply

Annette
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« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2007, 12:38:20 AM »

KTBH
These are very neat hives. I will be building one later this year.
You build a large body to hold lots of frames. However you have a divider or end board that you use to limit the size of the hive at the early stages. You simply add more bars and move the endboard further down the body.

In KTBH hives you end up with a honey frames on the ends of the hive. Just like in a normal  feral hive. Although I am sure that good beekeepers have ways to manipulate them for optimal honey stores.

When you add a top bar you have a starter run of comb on the top bar. This way the bees follow the starter strip.

You drill a few 5/8" holes on the front of the hive. If you have concerns about robbing or mice place a mesh screen over the holes. Use a slightly larger screen size than you would use on a screened bottom board.

Be paitent. Michael will eventually post here. But he has almost 100 hives to maintain, a few horses, a job, a house, and somewhere in there his family would like 30 seconds of his time.

Sincerely,
Brendhan
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2007, 06:27:27 AM »

>Be paitent. Michael will eventually post here. But he has almost 100 hives to maintain, a few horses, a job, a house, and somewhere in there his family would like 30 seconds of his time.

Keeping 100 hives would be easier.  I'm trying to expand to a hundred hives.  I thought I had half the equipment, but then, besides building new equipment, I started dipping the old equipment...

And then there is queen rearing...

Someday I'll get caught up... Smiley

>How do you start a hive in what seems to be a very large box?

I just put them in it.

>Presumably, it would take quite a while for a swarm or a package to be able to handle the full volume of the box, so couldn't pests be an issue with that much extra space?

The extra space is empty.  If the extra space was combs, yes.  It probably would be easier on them if I built a follower board.  I have not.

>Since honey space needs to be kept open during the season, how do you remove the bees from each bar?  A bee brush?

Yes.

> Methods for a Lang hive don't seem likely to work with this.

Shaking doesn't work.

>To make space for brood in the spring (empty bars), do you just remove empty combs from the bars (and any excess honey you think will not be needed) and replace them?

No.  I leave the empty combs for them to fill with brood.

>Do you move the remaining honey near the cluster and let the bees build new comb and move it away, or do you leave empty bars between the current brood space and the first bar of honey?

Spring is usually not a problem.  They want to expand.  The problem is when they start wanting to reduce the brood nest.  That's when I have to intervene.  Then I put empty bars in the brood nest, usually one at a time, unless the hive is really booming then I might put as many as three at a time in.  There are always some empty combs, if if there are not, it's time to harvest some honey.

>How do you reduce the entrance in the winter to keep out mice, etc, especially if the cluster is working from one end to the other?

I have a top entrance and I have not had any problems with mice.  I have not reduced the entrance on the KTBH.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2007, 07:19:39 AM »

How do you start a hive in what seems to be a very large box? Presumably, it would take quite a while for a swarm or a package to be able to handle the full volume of the box, so couldn't pests be an issue with that much extra space?

The first TBHs I built I sized them so that I could hang a Langstroth deep frame from the top bar.  I then took a 5 frame nuc and hung the frames from the top bars with a empty top bar between the frames.  This gave them a good start and as they built new comb I slowly weeded out the hanging Langstroth frames.  Now that I have TBH comb,  I just move some from an existing hive to start another new one.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2007, 06:48:56 AM »

My TTBH is standard Langstroth medium dimensions, so I start them in a nuc, then an eight frame box, then a ten frame box then the long box.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
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« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2007, 09:22:21 AM »


so in your TTBHs, Michael, do you use more complete frames or top bars?

 I built my TTBHs first, but then I decided to use complete frames instead of bars only, at least for this and next season, because I am a quite afraid of comb collapse
my frames have about 1.5 times larger comb area than the standard deep lang frames
so far, the 2 nucs I installed on April 3 are doing very well, since they built about 20 combs up to now, from scratch, but have their nests widely spread, almost on all combs present, despite the comb spacing is partly 32 and partly 35 mm wide

I have no idea why they dont have a more compact broodnest, since the combs are large enough....
 
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