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  1. #1

    Big Grin

    Thought I'd just drop a quick note giving the status of my (now) populated TBH.

    I don't have any photos yet but I'll take some as soon as the hive is a little more established and the temps warm up a little more.

    Basically, cutting to the chase: the girls seem to love it! Since the swarming impluse is so strong this time of year, here in north Texas and swarms are "famous" for festuning (sp?) and drawing out comb like crazy, I decided a swarm was the best way to get my TBH up and running. And it appears to be working very well.

    I got a swarm call on Friday and that evening I stopped by after work and picked them up. I got the queen and marked her and put her in a cage and hung it between two of the top bars. I did this just to "force" the swarm to stay put and of couse keep track of the marked queen (for the future). I put on a half-gallon of heavy sugar syrup (via an entrance feeder) and thought I'd release the queen the following Sunday evening.

    Late Sunday afternoon, I went out to check on the hive. The bees had taken down a little sugar syrup (but not as much as I would have expected). But the big surprise was the amount of comb that had been drawn out from my starter strips. They were going like gangbusters! I'll post some pics before too long.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
    Posts
    804

    Post

    Hello Mark,

    Can't wait to see those pictures. Could you keep track of the comb orientation, structure and order drawn? Photos might be a very good way to do this.

    Thanks
    Dennis
    I know it's more fun in Texas than Wyoming. Won't have any bees in my tbh until June.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Bowling Green, KY USA
    Posts
    52

    Post

    When you take pictures, if possible, would you take some measurements of the cell size as well. I set two packages of Russian in two weeks ago on 4.9mm and as an experiment, left one frame in with only a starter strip. They have built onto the strip like wild fire and the size seems to be an even 5.0! I'm definately excited where this may lead over the next two years with my plans for regression to 4.9 and eliminating chemicals.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,403

    Post

    My guess is that orientation will be the same as the starter strip unless it's a blank starter srip with no embossing. I want to start one on the blank stater strips and see what happens.

    I think it would be useful to mark the bars so you know what position they were in and then check cell sizes for each position. I think I'll number mine forward and backward from the center of the cluster when they start out, figuring the center of the cluster is the center of the brood nest. I'll just number them F1, F2, F3... for forward from there and B1, B2... for back from there. Then I can check orientation and cell size for each position in the hive.

    Also, anyone taking and sharing measurments, please share the size, position and use (brood, honey, pollen etc.) of the comb.

  5. #5

    Post

    Michael, I'm sure you're correct. I did use regular wax foundation as my 'starter strips' so I'm sure the bees have simply drawn them out in accordance with the pattern given them. The other problem you mention, about locating the "center" of the brood nest is a problem also (at least, for me). Right now, I have a 'follower board' in place, giving them a total of 15 top bars to work. As soon as they get a good start on that, I'm planning to put the follower board at the back of the hive, thus allowing them access to all 30 frames (err...I mean, top bars). In fact, to help "encourage" them to draw out the "new" top bars, I may even change their location towards the front of the hive.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Post

    If you want to use the bars for honey, I'd leave them at the back and leave the brood nest in the front. It's sort of an "add on" in the back. Just like a super. If you put it in the front they may use it as brood space and enlarge the brood nest that direction.

  7. #7

    Post

    I don't have strong plans to take honey from this top bar hive. Of more concern to me is that they draw out enough comb this Spring so that they have a place to store honey to over-winter. As I'm sure you know, there is really only a limited amount of time the bees will be inclined to draw out comb and I want to take full advantage of this time so that the hive will have enough comb space (and thus, honey stores) to sustain the hive next winter. The max this hive will have is thirty "frames" (i.e., top bars) which will be roughly equivalent to three deep supers which is about what I have to leave on a two-brood hive to over-winter; that is, two brood boxes and a third one full of honey.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,403

    Post

    I'm just saying the bees tend to think of the brood nest as one place and everything else as a add on. I'd just add on in the back. They naturally seem to want the brood nest in the front.


  9. #9

    Post

    Good. If they want the brood nest toward the front (close to the entrance), then when I move the already drawn comb back further into the hive and put two or three new starter strips close to the front entrance, then that should "encourage" them to draw out this comb a little faster. I figure if I keep doing this until all 30 top bars are drawn out, then they'll have plenty of comb space for winter stores.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,403

    Post

    It's a nice idea, but I think you'll just keep moving the brood nest to the back of the hive. I guess you'll find out.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    parker county, tx
    Posts
    7,923

    Post

    I don't think they necessarily draw out comb in accordance with the size of the starter strips. I haven't measured different cells in my top bar hive, mostly because I don't know how to do it correctly, but I have noticed that different combs have different size cells. There was one comb this year that was almost entirely drone cell size, others that appear to be for worker cells, and it seems to me, that storage cells tend to be somewhere in between.
    As for making sure they will draw enough comb to survive the winter, I bought my package for my tbh in middle summer last year, and they built plenty to get them through winter. In fact, they had more stores than my Lang hives. If someone would tell me how to measure, I will try to do so next week and let you all know the cell size variations.
    BTW, my top bar hive is the one that I feared was either queenless or had a laying worker a couple of weeks ago. It had one queen cell with the bottom torn, so I had hoped that they had made their own queen. I checked the hive yesterday, and there appears to be a laying queen. The mood of the hive was also better, so I am relieved that I don't have a lost cause on my hands.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    To measure cell size you need a metric ruler. Measure from the left side of the wall of the first cell to the left side of the wall of the 10th cell and divide the measurement by 10. So if you measure across 10 cells and get 5.1cm then it's 5.1mm per cell.

  13. #13
    Additional TBH photos posted Sunday, April 27th in my Yahoo profile. The bees can readily been seen festooning and drawing out wax. On this check, I didn't spot the queen since I was trying to not distrub the hive too much (but I had marked her earlier so she should be easy to spot when needed). I did move the top bars back and rotated three new top bars (i.e., starter strips) closer to the front entrance. I noted two interesting things: 1) the bees had only been hived for one week but they had 'capped over' some honey [no doubt from the sugar syrup I'm feeding them] and 2) in this one week, they also had started backing in pollen supplies for the not-to-distant brood rearing which will take place.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    Posts
    5,159

    Question

    To measure cell size you need a metric ruler. Measure from the left side of the wall of the first cell to the left side of the wall of the 10th cell and divide the measurement by 10.

    Michael, Isn't this only measuring nine cells?

    I thought that you measure from the left outside of the first cell to the right inside of the tenth?

    IOOOOOOOOOOI Or, outside to outside and subtract one wall thickness.

    Bill

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Post

    I'm not talking about which wall, but which side of the wall. That leaves out the thickness of the last wall, otherwise you'd be measuring 10 cells plus one wall thickness.

    As you just said, you need to measure across 10 cells but not the thickness of the last wall.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,403

    Post

    I installed a package on top bars with blank starter strips. I'm hoping to observe the size and positioning of the cells. I'd love to find this mythical center comb. I have them in a 10 frame langstroth box with a plexiglass window. They are all in this hemispherical cluster in the center of the box.

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