Although illegal, when I returned to Arkansas in 1978, there were some folks still using Bee Gums. I was asked if I could rob them by a friend.
What a joy to work. The rear of the box was hinged. I probably could have completed the task without using smoke.
It was a simple matter to raise the door, cut a comb, put it in a bowl and go back for another.
This is the reason for my fascination with the KTBH. It is essentially a Bee Gum with movable frames.
Those who would rather not heft heavy honey supers need not.
I have tasked my son with constructing a honey press based on James SatterfieldÂ’s design posted on his website. If I had seen this before, I would have already built one. ItÂ’s the perfect solution to drying the cappings from the extractor operation.
Surely you jest....... Why would bee gums be illegal??
Because most states have laws specifing that bees must be kept in hives with movable combs so they can be inspected for disease.
Ahhhhhhhh. Thanks Michael.... That is a good reason.
As Michael explained, states passed laws early in the 20th century to require movable frames so the brood combs could be inspected for AFB and EFB.
At one time, there were enough inspectors to enforce these rules and the beekeepers themselves followed them. EFB and AFB were the only diseases feared by beekeepers.
After working those few bee gums, I can see why the practice continued. I anticipate the top bar hives will be the same environment.
As bait hives, a shortened version would remove some of the problems I've encountered in the past. In a Langstroth hive, wax moths will wipe out drawn comb. Foundation can be used, but not being drawn out and sitting in the heat, it will change shape. I won't recount other problems.
Here is what I expect with the top bar bait hives. Since there is a starter strip, the bees should draw straight combs. If I don't get to the bait hive in a timely manner, they can carry on without any loss of resources. When I transfer them, I can put the comb in a regular frame or place them in a longer, top bar hive directly.
When not being used as bait hives, I can use them the same as nucs.
I am looking forward to next spring with great anticipation. Ain't beekeeping fun!
Jon, how about some pics?
Sorry I wasn't clear. I want to see what a bee gum looks like.
Ohhh! I don't have a picture of one.
It is about a 6 foot long box about 12" on a side. One end has an opening for the bees and the other end has a hinged door. This is the only design I've seen first hand. I have seen pictures of other types that were made from the cross section of a bee tree with a lid. These stood on the end just like a tree would in the wild.
They are called gums locally because of the many uses hollow gum trees are used for. When I was in high school here, I used the same design, called a rabbit gum, to make rabbit traps. I would run these after milking and before school every day. This was not meant to be sporting, it was food on the table.
Typically a bee gum was a cut off piece of a gum treee with a board on the top for a lid and sat on a board for a bottom. You could pick it up and flip it over and get to the combs from the bottom.
Then box hives came along. I don't think there was a standard, but they were built from boards (usually one bys) and had a glass box on top for a super. Some of these had various methods for getting into them. You could have a door or you could flip them upside down or you can just use strips of one by's for the lid so you can remove some to get access from the top. Of course since the combs ran every which way, you'd break a lot of comb and drown some bees in the process.
You couldn't find a queen or inspect for brood diseases. They weren't so hard to rob with the glass boxes for supers, but without a super of some kind they were difficult to rob without making a huge mess of things.
I've built a few for fun to see how hard it was to work. It's probably better than some would think and worse than some would think. You don't have to kill all the bees to rob them, but it's not at all easy to rob them either. You flip it upside down and you have a lot more access than you would think. If you have a solid wood lid then you can sometimes flip it over, cut around the edges and remove the box and then get even better access to removing the honey comb.
I agree the top bar hive has all of the advantages of a box hive without the disadvantage of not being able to inspect it.
The box hives and gums I've seen tended to be pretty small (about the equivelant of a Langstroth deep or smaller) and increase was made by swarms caught from them. They swarmed a lot.
I've seen the logs, caught rabbits in gums, and seen strips nailed in square hives, but the one I wanted a pic of was one with a hinged door. That one I've never seen.
It's not that big a deal. Instead of making the end of the box fixed, a couple of nails were used for the hinge and two more nails made the latch. You pulled the latch nails, which were a loose fit, and opened it up. The comb was right there in a strong hive.
I robbed several as far in as I could reach and left the rest for them. This was in the early summer.
Was the door on the end, or on the top?
If on the end, why wasn't there brood all the way to the end. If on top, wasn't the comb attached to the top?
The box sat horizontal on a fence post. It was very much like a Tanzanian Top Bar Hive (TTBH) except you had to open the door in the rear instead of taking frames off the top.
Here is a link to James Satterfield's site:
The brood was in the front, the stores in the rear, again very much like all TBHs.
The comb was attached to the top. You had to push the hive tool into the comb at the top until it was severed and before doing that, you had to cut the comb loose from the sides, too.
I guess a drawing would save the proverbial thousand words :). I'll let you know when it is there.