View Full Version : Honey Production in TBHs
Scot Mc Pherson
04-02-2005, 05:31 PM
Last year I started with 4 TBHs from packages, and increased to 30 by catching swarms all spring summer and fall. I lost 4 hives total over the course of that year. 1 swarm absonded when I didn't leave it alone. Another got taken advantage of by Wax moths when the weather was poor for a whole week right after I caught the swarm. 2 hives I lost when my family moved 1 town over. The hive had a modicum of beetles in it, but I had no choice but to move the hives anyway. The move destroyed the damaged combs and subsequently the whole hive crashed from the the neglect the hive got for 1 week after the move which the whole situation was unavoidable. In the end I had 30 hives going into winter (which here in florida is REALLY mild and the bees work all winter when temps aren't too low. There is always something blooming her).
Anyway, to get to the point. I haven't looked inside my hives since the start of this years citrus bloom, which started a month late because of the new and strange weather patterns and the hurricanes we got last year. No biggy, so I hadn't checked my hives for about 4-6 weeks. The hives were mostly empty except a bar or two of honey left over from winter. Well I just checked my hives this after noon because I wanted to move them from one side of my house to the other. I figured I could just pick them up and carry them myself because I could pick up the ends no problem. I was VERY wrong. So I opened up the back of that first hive. I was looking at half filled honey comb on the 2nd to last bar. OK!! Next hive, same thing, but a fuller comb. Contiue on down the line all the same.
I have got to say, that although it took ALL year for the newly installed bees to almost fill a hive. The hives that overwintered are all full after a 5-6 flow. I am amazed, utterly amazed.
Anyone who tells you TBHs have mediocre honey production is full of it.
For the record my hives are 35 bars long, roughly the size of 3 deeps in volume. I have roughly 1.5 - 2 deeps worth of honey in every hive for a 5-6 week season. That's roughly more than 4000 lbs of honey by rough reckoning.
I wasn't expecting that kind of production at all this early. Tomorrow I begin harvest by removing only enough honey to give them a week's worth of room, and then go back and harvest the rest afterwards. Its going to take me a week to prepare and harvest it all.
04-03-2005, 07:09 AM
Good to hear from you again. Are you going to crush and strain it all? I hate to crush all that good comb. I am trying to get my family and friends into the comb honey.
Maybe the first year they spend so much time making the wax that it reduces their honey manufacture, although i have to say I was really surprised how full of honey my tbh's were when I checked this spring.
Are you doing anything to prevent swarming? Or just harvesting the honey?
04-03-2005, 05:47 PM
I have compared Lang and Tbh production. When I checker board a Lang hive, I can get almost double the average of a regular lang. That's 1 1/2 deeps versus 3 full deeps. With a regularlong hive managed the same way, I can get another 1 to 1 1/2 deeps for a total of about 5 deeps. All this is surplus honey as I run a heavy 3 deep hive with a total overwintering weight at about 200 lbs. I don't do any supplimental feeding.
In comparison, my tbhs produce about the average at 1 to 1 1/2 deeps worth of surplus. That's 30 to 50 percent less than one of my langs. That's not mediocre, but it's doesn't compete on a per hive basis with a lang. I think think you could have almost doubled your production with langs, but then it would have cost you almost 6 times as much.
My top bar hives definately produce less than my langs on a per hive basis. But I know they are better producers on a capital cost/lb basis. And for a sideline operation where labor is free, cash flow is everything :>)
It's interesting to note that our major flow lasts about 3 to 4 weeks. And that's almost 4 months away.
Having left the high volume production necessary when keeping bees commercially, meaning semi-loads of honey, a few tbhs supply all the honey I and my friends can use. For a few years, I kept a dozen hives and ran them for maximum production. That resulted in alot of unused surplus honey. My garage was full of it. I tried to give it to charity but they wanted money instead of honey.
So with tbhs I can keep a few more hives and produce enough but not enough so that I am full of it. :>)
And congrats on the great crop. Are you going to market it through the mail. I would like to order some from you if it's available.
Scot Mc Pherson
04-03-2005, 10:01 PM
Well I am not sure what I am going to do with it. I filled two 5 gallon pails today. I am going to try and keep it local. Not that I won't sell to all the folks here, but I mean I am not selling to packers. Lets see, $5 per lb local non-labeled organic, chem and smoke free or $0.75 per lb to the packers. I don't care how accurate that number is, no matter what the number is the point remains the same. smile.gif
How much do you want really if you have tons o honey already ??
04-04-2005, 09:03 AM
Just a quart or there abouts.
04-05-2005, 05:28 AM
Congrays on the successful year. I started last year with two top bar hives and two packages with Russian hyrid queens. I finished the year with three strong hives (I made a split)that made it through the winter and 6 gallons of honey. I thought I was doing well smile.gif . I left each hive in the fall with at least 18 full bars of brood and honey. They still have at least 4 bars each full of honey. One hive seems weaker than the rest, still has lots of honey, but hardly any brood. I am requeening that one this week.
Scot Mc Pherson
04-07-2005, 10:13 PM
I'll gladly send you a quart, do you have an account with UPS so I can bill to receiver's account?
I am not exactly setup for credit cards yet.
05-06-2005, 05:19 PM
"I have compared Lang and Tbh production. When I checker board a Lang hive, I can get almost double the average of a regular lang. That's 1 1/2 deeps versus 3 full deeps. With a regularlong hive managed the same way, I can get another 1 to 1 1/2 deeps for a total of about 5 deeps. All this is surplus honey as I run a heavy 3 deep hive with a total overwintering weight at about 200 lbs. I don't do any supplimental feeding."
Hi Dennis -
What do you mean to "checker board" a hive?
05-06-2005, 06:52 PM
Do a word search here at beesource. There has been some discussion about it here. You can check my web page at:
www.bwrangler.com/bee (http://bwrangler.farvista.net/qmar.htm)/gche.htm (http://bwrangler.farvista.net/gche.htm)
[ December 31, 2006, 12:32 AM: Message edited by: D. Murrell ]
Scot Mc Pherson
05-07-2005, 06:46 PM
I did splits after harvesting the honey.
Its been over a month now and all my honey from the citrus is gone now and I don't have any left even for myself which really sucks. I yanked a comb out of the hive this week just to get me through a bit. I will gladly send you some palmetto honey when that harvest is complete. We are doing clover right now, but around here that's a minor flow. There isn't much clover around, but I want to develop that crop a little bit. Already have collected. I might get 4 partial frames of clover from each of the queenright hives, the splits just started laying about 3 or 4 days ago.
05-08-2005, 08:10 PM
AlpineJean: please explain a bit more on your checker boarding procedure. It sounds like one of those management tricks that only small scale folks can afford. Or do commercial guys do it ?
05-09-2005, 07:03 AM
guatebee: I don't know about checker boarding - I had asked Dennid about it.
Scot Mc Pherson
05-09-2005, 07:13 PM
Checkerboarding is a method of increasing a brood nest. Its normally done in a two story hive, and you quite simply lift up half (every other frames) of the combs from the bottom and place them in the 2nd story. Its called checkerboarding because it emmulates the rows on a checker board. If old comb is black, and empty combs are red. Old combs start on bottom, you take every other frame and lift them up, replacing them with new red combs.
I use the term in doing TBH splits because its similar if you place two TBHs diagramatically side by side. For doing brood nest increase you can do the same thing also, but by spreading the brood nest out like an accordian. I am not sure what I am calling that yet, just still calling it checkerboarding.
05-10-2005, 05:56 AM
Thanks Scott... how about instead of using the term "accordian" you could say that you are making it into a squeeze box smile.gif
Scot Mc Pherson
05-17-2005, 07:07 AM
I guess, but it just doesn't sound right.