The "genetics" of my bees is unknown, thus you could not make an assumption that it gives me any advantage in keeping these particular bees. I am quite sure that any other bees will do the same in my hands simply because I studied the subject for many months before I felt I could handle it. I am a scientist and I am a good learner. I prefer to learn from others mistakes (this is why I am here)...
As for KTBs - again, I disagree with you. In my opinion, it is actually easier to start from KTBs rather than to convert from the Lang. You could find on this forum my personal sad story how I was trying to convert Lang into KTB...
I am a member of numerous bee-clubs, here in LA and I have to tell you, that all "novice" beekeepers are very serious about bees. We have bee-classes and I am sure that these "beginners" know more about bees than many "traditionalists"... also, there are a lot of volunteers, who will help "beginners" with bees if there is any problem. Amateur beekeeping is very strong these days. It looks like many commercial bee-professionals are living in the past... disconnected from reality... Remember Thomas Edison? He was amateur in most fields and nevertheless brings to us a telegraph, a light-bulb and many other inventions - more than 1500. If he would follow "traditional" way, we'll still live in the houses illuminated by candles... Irresponsible "beekeeping" by "experienced" professional beekeepers contributed a lot to bees problems in US. I apologize for generalization - I am sure, there are lot of professional beekeepers who DO care about bees - my comments are withing the discussion in this particular thread.
I think we need to return back to thread's original content - Top Bars "Pros and Cons" Presentation . Very good, balanced presentation! If you read it - you could see that it was stated from the very beginning that KTB is not compared to commercial Lang. It is about KTB. Thus, all Skinner's emotions are useless... He did not present any single argument for or against KTB. He effectively distracts us from the subject of this discussion. Such behavior has a name in i-net community. Do you know the name?
He's trolling and you're all biting?? Survivor stock implies good genetics, at least that's what Darwin thought. Don't get me wrong Sergey, I'm not bashing top bars. And about the amateurs, look at all the posts here... perhaps I worded it wrong, many do try hard and take it seriously, but react too much and cannot appropriately apply what they've learned which is what I saw in school.... many people are great at memorizing theories, equations, concepts, but cannot successfully apply them to solve the problem at hand.
Looking at the presentation though, the exact same thing can be said about langs..... A box costs what... $15 on average? 10 frames for under $15, bottom board $12, Top board $12.... Buy your boxes pre assembled, doesn't come easier than that... No heavy boxes to lift??? who says you have to pull the whole box off at once?? You can move single frames just as easily into a holding box sitting next to you... all natural, go foundationless. And just because comb is new does not mean it has no residues or that your honey isn't laced with whatever systemics/pesticides that have been used around your area. A lot of assumptions are being made on both sides here.
No, I am not biting. It is not my style. I just feel that people need to understand how serious bees problem is.
As for amateurs - Russian say "learning from mistakes". Beekeeping has its own learning curve. Many students in my lab have very long "curve" and what, should I treat them as Skinner did? Would you be happy, if your kid will be treated this way just because s/he is inexperienced? KBT is actually great way to learn. It typically has an observation window and management is very simple, no "deeps", mediums etc... no stuck frames, no struggle with cell-size etc...
It is actually an irony, because historically I got my bees in Langs and I hate it! My attempt to convert Lang into KTB pathetically fails - bees dictated what they wanted. So, I am working on Lang modification for now: I already removed all normal frames and replaced them on truncated version - top bars only. Next step - entirely different design of the top bars.
I think, the problem is that "traditional" beekeeping instructions are so controversial and unclear - this is what confuses the beginners. I read enough on beekeeping to conclude that this is most controversial area of knowledge I ever saw. Reading this forum just supports my conclusion.
Since, I am complete novice in traditional beekeeping, I could present my unbiased opinion on Langs.
- traditional, people familiar with this.
- standard dimensions, interchangeable, famous Dadant-style frame.
- adding/removing supers for(with) honey is easy
- relatively small footprint
- transportation is easy for small hives.
- "gold standard" for pollination business.
- centrifugal extraction is possible.
- easy scalable.
- too many parts, confusing sizes and terminology - deeps, mediums, supers, bottom board, screened board, telescopic cover, transportation cover... inner cover!
- deeps and mediums in the nest are not interchangeable, which eliminates the advantage of unified sizes.
- Most important to me - to inspect the nest - hive needs to be break apart, which is a stress to the bees.
- Moving boxes is inconvenient (heavy, stick together etc).
- traditional frames are difficult to manage - they are often cemented by propolis. Beehive-tool damaged the wooden parts of the frame and the hive.
- Building a traditional frame is time-consuming. Somebody reported on this forum that they used 20(!) staples per frame.
- boxes are difficult to make without proper tools; pre-assembled boxes are expensive; shipping is expensive. Free shipping is not available all the time.
- ventilation in hot climate may be a problem.
- screened bottom may cause too much ventilation - large open area is difficult to manage by bees. May not be used if treatments.
- classical finger joints on the boxes may be damaged by weather and needs to be properly sealed and painted.
All these pros and cons are debatable and this is my personal non-professional hobbyist opinion. I intentionally did not compare the Lang to KTB since it is two entirely different approaches.
Most important to me - to inspect the nest - hive needs to be break apart, which is a stress to the bees.
Well put a window on your lang and be done with it!
Since I'm a nooob....how can we deal with these con's and be successful? I dont need pounds of honey, I live alone, they are fun to keep, and if they dont swarm I'll be happy....if I can figure out how to overwinter them....estatic. Just came in from making sawdust on a third hive....measure 5 times cut once I'm still off LOL! Time for some sleep.
Never say, "if they dont swarm" They will always swarm. Its depressing. Requeening can cut it down, but they still swarm. And if you cant super they swarm even more, wait.. you cant super a top bar hive? Ill let the trolls eat that one up whilst I go work.
Never needed to super a top bar hive and never had a swarm. If the TBH gets too full, then it is time to take honey and/or make a split. No problem, no swarm, and no supers.
Skinner: Besides overcrowding, doesn't swarming usually occur because the hive is strong and healthy? Again, a real difference in attitude here. I hope my hives are strong and healthy, and if they swarm, wouldn't it mean they were doing well, TBH and all?
SantaFeBeek: How long have your hives been established, and how much of the living area have the bees built out? My TBHs are so roomy that it would probably take a few years for the girls to completely fill it. If the girls are that jammin', fantastic!!! You go, girls!
I've had a couple for 3-years, one that I started this year and split about a month ago, but I also took an April through Sept class at a local place called Ecoversity my first year where they keep about 15-20 hives at their location about a mile from me that the students basically manage each year. There are quite a few TBH enthusiasts in NM. Maybe they work better here than in other locations.
My hives, as well as the ones at Ecoversity, are all 44 inches long and hold about 30 top bars (Les Crowder design). In my location (high desert, ~6800 ft elev.) we need a minimum of about 13 bars to make it through the winter. So, I've let the bees build out to about 20-25 bars before making splits. At Ecoversity, there were quite a few hives that were built out completely, and those were usually harvested for honey (both to supplement weaker hives and for eating) and very often split. Many of their hives have been established for 10-years now, and most all newer ones are splits. They do a couple of packages a year, as well, for demos for the class.
The TBH that I started this year with Beeweaver package began with maybe 8 bars of previously drawn comb from my other hives, and quite a few bars that had an inch or so of comb on them from honey harvest, so they went like gangbusters and I was up to 20 bars in a month to maybe 6 weeks with feeding and inserting empty bars between brood combs once the weather was warmer.
I also started two langs this year just to experiment, both with beeweaver packages, as well. One of the queens absconded, so that set one back a bit, but I just added the first super above two deeps to the stronger one, so not doing all that bad considering the drought we are in. We're just starting to get into the monsoon rains, so flows should be picking up soon.
Very impressive. I am jealous! Our city permits only 2 beehives on the property. I inherited two Langs. I was trying to convert one into KTBH, it fails - girls did not cooperate at all! So, I still have two Langs, but my dream is to switch to KTBH as soon as possible. I think Langs especially inconvenient in urban situation.
See, one just need to learn how to run TBHs from experts!
By the way, speaking about "supers" on KTBH. It is just indication that some people just completely unaware how TBH works. TBH experts, forgive me my simplified explanation:
TBH has two "ends", entrance and "exit" (in the sense that it is exit for ready product, honey), opposite to entrance. At the entrance we have the nest, at the "exit" we have honey. Bees are expanding the honey storage towards the "exit". Once honey storage approaching the "exit" (end) - you just remove bars with honey and add a few more empty bars. It is good idea always to have a few empty bars at the "exit" (end). It is like conveyer: at the entrance you have a supply and materials, than - assembly line and at the "exit" (end) - a final product, honey. You do not wait for "super" to be full, you just remove honey at the "exit" when it is ready. This way, TBH always has extra space. If nest is too big - you just split it. SantaFe explains everything very clearly, but it looks like some people still did not get it.
As for swarming. Swarming is a part of bees reproductive cycle. More good/strong bees reproduced (natural selection), less problem we shall have. If you limit reproduction, you break the process of the natural selection (it works only when cycle is completed) and therefore have weaker bees - as a result, people re-queen artificially literally every year (and very proud...) - bad - selection did not work, 50% bees in US gone! If you will continue to do so, you will have more and more weaker bees. It is just mother Nature law.
yea, no. Swarm management is about proper hive space and queen age. I think the amount of pesticide, specifically fungicide exposure has more to do with queen life expectancy, thus bi annual requeens are bigger now. Seriously, you want a healthy hive, knock her off and requeen her every fall. Did I mention she wont swarm during the initial flow, even IF she's honeybound? And by then you can super throw a cell in a protector and say see ya.
Dang! I go on vacation and miss all the fun! I love the presentation. It is pretty cool way that it moves from point to point. I would like to add one more point on TBH's, and it is the reason that I got one. You can have a window on the side of the hive that makes it easy to view the workings on the hive, either for yourself, you kids, or people interested in honey bees. If you put a window on a Lang you get a nice view of some lumber. Yes, you can build an observation hive, but I wouldn't call an observation hive a working hive. The ones I've seen seem understaffed, and you certainly are not going to get production out of an observation hive!
I would agree that Langs produce more honey, but probably isn't what it is about for TBH operators.