View Full Version : Screen board bottoms on TBH's?
09-16-2004, 07:46 PM
I don't see any screen bottoms on any the photos posted by the various participants of this board or the weblinks I can easily find from you guys.
Does no one incorporate a screen bottom in their design so that varroa fall down and out of the colony, as we have been doing with Langstroth hive bodies for some years now?
And about wintering, do you guys reduce the interior volume of the TBH to make it easier for the bees to handle cold weather? As I may have mentioned in a previous post, I lost several colonies last winter were the winter cluster didn't move over two frames to get available food. I am assuming that was due to the extended cold weather we experienced. In each colony I found half of the honey stores I had seen in the fall still available, Wouldn't moving over to stores be a problem for Top Bar Hives, too?
Thanks for all the interesting discussions. This really seems like more what I would like to be doing with my own bees.
You can make a SBB for your topbar its all in your imagination and wood working skills. I have seen pictures of SSBs with clean out draws to use with sticky paper on the internet. I dont use them because I like the idea of breeding bees that are mite resistant this involves simulating as close to natural conditions as you can get and breeding survivors.
This is how a few of the breeders here in Germany have done it. There were big losses at first but the end results were bees that have not been treated with anything in two years. I have a package of those bees and I have not treated at all. During my inspections I see one or two bees with mites on them so I know they are there, but no bees with deformed wings or any of the other signs that there is a problem The most interesting thing about this hive is that it is weak from a late start (late June) . We will see in the spring if they are true survivors
Procrastination is the assination of inspiration.
09-17-2004, 04:54 AM
I had the same question when I started. you are correct no one uses them that I know of. I never found a good plan for them. I think there are a number of reasons.
1st, doesn't appear to be much of a need for it. Most of the guys have not complained about mites, although it is early yet to know for sure. Top Bar Guy says he will be using the oxalic acid to treat, and I plan to do the same soon, using his "crack pipe" homemade vaporizer.
The first design I came up with would reduce the hive size/volume and make a simple design unduly complex. It had a screen with a sliding tray underneath to keep the hive bottom closed.
The second design I came up with had an open bottom. You just build it without the floor and put a screen on. Then in the winter you can screw on the bottom right over the screen. I was afraid this might be too drafty, especially at first. You could just screw it on partially, or make a little clip to hold it, then move it open or closed as needed.
Since it is an experiment, you can try anything you want and if it works great! If not, well that is helpful too!
If you look at my pictures you will see I made the legs so that I could take off the floor and make the slider. The floor is just screwed on with drywall screws to the sides, it is not really structural, although of course it does add some strength.
If I do have mite trouble I might just unscrew the floor and replace with a screen.
I did notice that my one hive that did not fill up with comb all the way had holes drilled in the bottom where they didn't build comb (entrance end). Could be that they would not like the open bottom.
You also asked about reducing hive volume. I think that you need to eyeball each hive individually. If a hive has not drawn out comb throughout then it would be a good idea.
I too am worried how they will move through the hive as the winter progresses. They will have to move laterally rather than vertically.
Maybe the Hardison article that Miki posted has some ideas about this?
[This message has been edited by BerkeyDavid (edited September 17, 2004).]
09-17-2004, 06:26 AM
I have one that is just a three box long medium Lanstroth hive with top bars in it. It has a SBB. The KTBH does not. They are both doing fine. The SBB is closed in though. I worry about too much ventilation since we had comb collapses in the early attempts.
09-17-2004, 08:32 AM
I have 3 TBHs all with screened bottoms and removable solid floors. 2 are set to make it easy to use a sticky board (all 3 were supposed to, but a slight measurement error leaves one scraped clean when it is removed). The largest weekly mite fall I have had is 8 mites. I am in Boonsboro MD. just up the road from you. I left the bottoms closed until the hives were strong (>15 fully built bars) then pulled out the bottom boards. I built the hives solid, then used a jig saw to cut out the bottom, stapled in a screen and put supports underneath to hold the bottoms on. they slide in and out, and are custom fit for a decent seal if needed.
I built my TBH's with no bottoms then I set it on the corner of a piece of plywood and left enough room to surround it with five quarter I made it six inches longer than the hive to make a landing board, cut it screwed the five quarter in, now
I have a hive and a bottom board, then I made a flat cover basically the same way. I ended up with three main pieces and the bars. I found it easier to transport and set up this way. If I ever have a need for a SBB I can just cut one with a jig saw and staple the screen on in about ten min. with out handling the whole hive.
Procrastination is the assination of inspiration.
[This message has been edited by MIKI (edited September 17, 2004).]
09-19-2004, 06:12 PM
Limulus, Miki and those with SBB's. Do you plan on closing them up this winter? How did they do? Did you compare them with any that were left closed? I am very interested in this discussion, thanks!
09-19-2004, 08:26 PM
I have a plastic "cardboard" bottom on mine like the Brushy Mt. SBB have. It's still in, but I pulled it back about two inches when they where bearding a bit in the summer. I may leave it that way for the winter. But it will be mostly closed.
09-20-2004, 04:50 AM
I plan on closing mine up for the winter. I am not sure if it is necessary, but I know a hive can make it through the winter with a closed bottom so why take a chance.
When I started the 2 origional hives one had a removable bottom board that I left in, the other was open. Thge open one got off to a slower start, and built comb all to the souther side tight in the upper corner (the hives face east) the closed hive built centered comb, side to side, as they started then filled out to the sides. Both hives centered their combs on the bars really well, for the most part, and did so well that I harvested about 30 lbs of honey and used 14 filled bars 7 of mostly brood and eggs and 7 of mostly honey and pollen to make a split and start another hive. The new split raised their own queen and have built and filled 6 new bars of comb.
09-20-2004, 10:32 AM
I think Limulus shows more wisdom than I did over the last two winters. One of the older, most experienced beekeepers in my acquaintance lives several counties farther west than I do, so his USDA climate zone up there on the Alleghany Front is identical to your town. He had told me that he left the SBB's open all winter there on his mountaintop beeyard, and the bees all came through more vigorous than before!!! One of our master beekeepers has been preaching for years that moisture build-up in winter is a bad thing. So, considering that the older gentleman I referred is TWO full climate zones colder than Harpers Ferry, I figured I might see more vigorous colonies as well, and I divided my beeyard in half -- 50% I covered the SBB's, and 50% I left uncovered. Sure enough, the uncovered hives in my yard (all Langs, as I have said in other posts, I am just now discovering and thinking about TBH) DID -- for that winter of 2002-03 -- come out better. I thought to myself ' This is amazing.'
So for the winter of 2003-04 I went whole hog and left ALL the SBB's open. But January & February 2004 around here were record-breakers, and all my colonies perished, with plenty of stores on the frames left and right of the clusters, much to my shame.
So I won't go down that road again, personally. TBH or Langstroth, I will close the bottoms in future winters.
09-20-2004, 11:25 AM
I think a strong hive in a moderate climate will come out well with them open. But the weaker they are and the colder it is, the more it works against them.
09-20-2004, 03:14 PM
Another factor to consider when using SBs is upward ventilation. The amount of draft through the hive is determined by how the hive is set up on the bottom and top of the chimney.
A hive doesn't have to be drafty when using a SBB.