MB, I'm wondering about something....
"Sorry about the simplicity and redundancy of this message...."
MB, What if I put on my honey supers this spring with just top bars for honey making? Leaving the hive bodies as they are, what could I expect? I would harvest by crushing or storing the honey in the comb.... using the wax for my magical skin products...
What what what do I do???
If you want multiple supers, you will need to put in top bars that are no more than 1 1/8" wide or so. Like the top bars on a frame. Or if you only want one super you can do solid bars (no gaps) and make them 1 1/2" wide. Assuming you have some sort of centering device (starter strips or sloped bars or a strip of wood that sticks down a little) they will build comb in the middle of the bar down to the bars below and connect it to them. They will also connect some on the sides. If you cut between the boxes and slide it a little sideways (every other box the other way if you have several) and let the bees clean up the honey that spills and then put a triangular bee escape on to get most of the bees out (under all the supers) and then blow out the rest or take it somewhere where you don't mind some bees but the rest of the bees can't get to it and cut the combs out of the boxes and off the top bars. It will work fine. There is a man around here who does all his comb honey that way.
For me, I think it's easier to harvest and get all the bees out with frames. Because I don't have a blower, I use the bee escape and then brush the straglers and I can't do that with the combs attached in the box, as they will be. Of course some of this is also how full you let them get it. If you catch them before they have built it all the way to the bottom and connected it on the sides but after it's capped, you might get to take each frame out and brush it off. But that is extremely good timing.
I guess I should summerize. If you have a blower and handle it right it's very doable. Without a bee blower it's not very practicle.
I will read this a few more times to understand it. This may be more complicated then I first thought..
Using one super at a time on just one hive this spring might be doable to learn if this is practical for me to do. I might like it.
But those tops..... I'll have to think on them too. Can I use wooden ruler? The yard sticks are pretty stout.
I'd buy 3/8" laths at the lumber yard and use them as they are if you want to do solid bars. Rip them to 1" if you want to do open bars (mulitple supers) I suppose you could do solid bars with a minimum 1/4" gap at the sides and they will get into the next super. Then you have to rip a groove down the middle to put in a starter strip. Why not buy just top bars for frames? You can buy them from some suppliers as repair parts. Then the groove is already there for the starter strip. You just have to space them. You can buy spacers, make a comb or just use a dowel to space them. In supers for comb honey I still go 10 frames because the combs get too thick to fit in some of the boxes if I go with 9. But if you're doing chunk comb or you're crushing and straining I'd go with 9 bars.
If you are having trouble picturing the disadvatages. Try this. You pull off a super and it's full of bees. You need the bees out and the only method you have is a brush, so you cut a comb of honey and and honey runs all over. You try to brush off the bees and you now have honey on the brush, honey on the bees and honey all over where you are working which is attracting bees to clean up the honey. Then you cut out the next comb...
I would buy a real "frame" from a bee supply company like "Western" and put either Plasticell (for extracted) or "Thin Surplus" for cut comb. Everything will work out beautiful with time proven, repeatable outcomes.
I knew an old beekeeper who would pull out the center comb in the first super above the queen excluder as soon as the honeyflow started.He would put in a new frame without wire or foundation.The bees would quickly fill it with new comb and honey.He had customers who would buy the whole frame each year.Pure comb honey on a small scale.The frame has to be between 2 drawn combs otherwise a big mess.I know this isnt what you were asking ,it just reminded me of it.
I often do starter strips of surplus on shallow or medium frames. I've had no big problems. Of course, now and again the bees do something funky, but that is an exception rather than the rule and they sometimes do something funky even with full sheets of foundation.
As I mentioned, though, I do know of a man who sells cut comb that does use just the top bars from frames in his supers with starter strips, but I don't know how he clears his supers, which is where it all gets too cumbersome and messy for me.
I would just buy some frames from Western either commercial or budget. (I've had some of their budget frames and the ones I got were fine). The budget shallow or medium frames are 52 1/2 cents each. Either use surplus or surplus starter strips and you can cut it out and mash it to strain it as you're planning. If you used plastic foundation you could probably scrape it off and put the frames back in and let them redraw it.
BTW I also think the yardstick is too flimsy. The 3/8 lath is pushing it a bit, but the yardstick is going to bend even more in the middle.