View Full Version : Decided to take the plunge
01-01-2005, 03:41 PM
Well this is the end of my first year of beekeeping, and what a blast it has been. Winter set it *eyes the rain outside* and I'm getting a bit restless with nothing bee related to do. So I decided that I wanted to go ahead and build a TBH. I've spend the morning reading through this forum and I've found many interesting and helpful things.
On the main page one of the plans listed by topbarguy is http://www.beesource.com/eob/althive/murrell/index.htm .
Since TBH's seem to be in a constant state of evolution I was wondering if those were still good plans to follow. I've read on topbarguys webpage that he has changed many things (two new versions of the hive) and some new topbars but nonetheless those plans are still posted on the main page.
EDIT: Eh, just incase this is helpful: I live in northern california (Humboldt County). It doesn't snow here and seldom freezes. Didn't want to give you the wrong impression when I said Winter, because we don't really have that here. We have rain and sun. http://www.beesource.com/ubb/smile.gif
Thanks again http://www.beesource.com/ubb/smile.gif
Weekly progress of my hive(s): http://bees.total-x.org
[This message has been edited by Scotty (edited January 01, 2005).]
01-02-2005, 12:06 PM
Tbhs are a very individual matter. And that's one their of the greatest attractions. Since you have to build one anyway, build one that suits your needs. Almost all of the factors involved with tbh design reflect the beekeepers needs. And the bees are very adaptable :> )
So, take a look at the various designs and then build the best tbh ever, one designed for and by you!
Originally, I had planned to just build a single tbh as an observation tool. But the simplicity and elegance of tbh beekeeping changed my thinking. My first tbh was built around a 2' long top bar and sides that sloped at 22.5 degrees.
Since then, I have changed the design somewhat to reflect a more economical use of lumber and easier hive construction as the actual slope doesn't matter that much.
So make a list of the factors that are important to you. Will the hive be migratory? Will it be a garden art form? Will it be used more for instruction or production? What kind of material will be used? My hives would have different dimensions if I were optimizing them for sheet material rather than stick lumber.
Take lots of pictures and share your experience. Most of all have a great time.
Knowing I haven't seen a tbh yet that I didn't learn something from.
01-08-2005, 05:12 PM
I also live in Northern California. Last year I built three top bar hives based on Topbarguy's specifications. For our climate, I have decided that his hives are a bit too roomy. The length is good but my bees have built their comb to half the depth. This year I will build three more based on the Crowder design. Good luck.
01-08-2005, 10:16 PM
So I guess I should have asked this question before I did it, but on Dennis' webpage it shows (I think it does anyway) that he painted the inside of his TBH with a white paint. Now, I know we're not supposed to paint the inside of hives but as Dennis knows more about TBH'ing than I, I just went ahead and did it. Now, do I need to get a sander out and rid myself of the inside paint?
01-09-2005, 06:45 AM
I've got both kinds of tbhs, some are painted inside and some aren't. One of the advantages of a tbh is that all the equipment is with the hive and not in the garage.
But that can be a disadvantage also, as all of the equipment is exposed to weather for the full year. And with bees in the top bar hive, the only replaceable element is the lid. There's no switching out bottom boards, supers, etc with a top bar hive. So I painted the inside to extend the life of the hive.
That has touched off some debate as to whether painting all the wood surfaces actually extend their lifespan or decrease it. My own personal experience with bottom boards indicate a fully painted one does last longer than one just painted on the exterior. And I started to just paint the bottom board in the tbh and then painted the whole interior.
Some beekeepers paint all surfaces of their supers. Some paint all the surfaces on just the lids and bottom boards. But most just paint the exterior as it is easier and cheaper.
A top bar hive has a very large bottom board which could hold a lot of water. But that hasn't been my experience. In fact, my tbhs stay much drier than my Langs. So, there might not be much of an advantage to painting the inside.
Some worry about honey contaimination but the bees coat everything with a thin layer of propolis. Some specialty paints are available that would be toxic but the common paints aren't when they're dry.
I'd leave the paint alone. Anyone have other thoughts?
01-09-2005, 08:00 AM
Hi Scotty and all
Since you already painted it don't worry. But if you want to make another one, you could leave it bare and then give us a report. I just painted the outside of mine. But the main attraction for these hives for me is the freedom to experiment. To do that you need something to compare it with. Of course it may take 20 years to find out if it really matters!
I would spend your time making some extra top bars or another hive rather than sand off good paint!
01-09-2005, 09:23 AM
I didn't paint anything on any of mine. smile.gif So far they are doing fine.
01-09-2005, 12:14 PM
Thanks for all the info guys! I'll go ahead and just leave the paint inside the hive. I've finished uploading all of the pictures I took to my webpage so you can check out the process of my putting it together if you want.
Here's a direct link: http://www.total-x.org/index.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=1
Or click on the link in my signature and then click on 'My First TopBar Hive' in the navigation.
Please do excuse some of the color schemes that don't exactly match atm, it's still a work in progress (mostly just the photo gallery).
01-09-2005, 05:34 PM
Great pictures. I like the tbh plex window and will be installing one this next season. I've watched Lang hives through a plex inner cover for along time and am quite curious about winter behavior in a tbh. A side window is the only way to observe them at that time of year. Thanks for the idea and for sharing the photos.
01-09-2005, 05:43 PM
I am curious about your comb observations. All my bees have built comb from the top bars to the bottom board and occupied about 20 frames the first season. Only a couple of partially built frames were left at the rear of the honey storage area at the end of the season. See:
Did your bees use all the top bars and build comb half way down. I wonder if the amount of comb was about the same or ?
I would be quite interested to see what they do this next season.
01-09-2005, 08:55 PM
I started three TBH's this spring but only one survived. It was from a feral swarm & is doing really well. I think
the hives I made have 30 top bars and by fall about 12 were built out but only about half the depth and about
2/3 of the bar length. The surviver hive built remarkably straight comb - very little correction needed. I am planning on photographing the comb & measuring cell size the next time I work the hive (it's been really rainy) & will post at that time. I haven't gone into the hive since last September. I really love the top bar hives and plan on increasing the colonies in top bar hives.
01-10-2005, 09:53 AM
Great work, nice pics. Are you going to cover up the plexiglass when not observing? Is that necessary?
What design do you plan on using for your top bars?
Keep us posted!
01-10-2005, 11:02 AM
Yes I plan to cover up the plexiglas when I'm not observing (you can see the latches I put on for this) because I don't want to sun to shine in there and cause a comb failure. I used the plans that Dennis has on his webpage using the mold to pour the wax.