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  1. #1

    Question

    Hello, all.

    I've been curious about beekeeping for a bit, and am seriously considering starting with my first hives in the spring. As part of that, I'm tring to work out how I'd like to keep/manage any bees I get. Top bar hives sound interesting to me, but reading a few things on here have me curious about one thing (well, several, actually, but I'll start here):

    I'm curious to know if there would be any difference between a typical top-bar hive, and a Langstroth filled with only empty frames (no foundation). If the bees will draw the same comb in both the top-bar and in a Langstroth with empty frames, are there advantages to doing it either way? Would you get the same benefits from a top bar hive with the empty frame Lang?

    So...thoughts? Comments? Random corrections? Thanks for any help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,431

    Post

    >I'm curious to know if there would be any difference between a typical top-bar hive, and a Langstroth filled with only empty frames (no foundation).

    Empy frames with no foundation will look something like this:

    http://www.beesource.com/pov/simon/comb.jpg

    Impossible to work and quite a mess.

    >If the bees will draw the same comb in both the top-bar and in a Langstroth with empty frames, are there advantages to doing it either way?

    Assuming you put some kind of comb guide on the Langstroth frames (a wax starter strip, or wood starter strip or triangular piece of wood for a guide) they will build pretty much the same thing in both. If you put an empty frame between two drawn brood combs they will draw it nicely (the drawn combs act like a guide). The same thing if you put an empty top bar with no guide between two drawn top bars.

    >Would you get the same benefits from a top bar hive with the empty frame Lang?

    The frame will give more support, especially if you leave it until the bees get it attached on the sides and the bottom some. Then you could extract the frame, if you wanted.

    The top bar will have the advantage of ease of building and ease of inspection. The bees get less excited with less exposed bees which the solid layer of top bars gives you.

    If you want a comprimise, try a long medium depth box with a mixture of top bars and frames and see what you like.

    There are long top bar hives and long hives with frames and foundationless frames on my site: www.bushfarms.com

    [size="1"][ November 16, 2005, 09:27 AM: Message edited by: Michael Bush ][/size]
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    Posts
    3,598

    Post

    what you need to do is coax the bee's into building their comb within the frames, rather than just every which way
    that picture Michael posted give me the "willies"
    you need to give them some kind of guide
    if you have drawn comb, putting an empty frame between two drawn combs does the trick
    but I'm a beeginer like you and didn't have any drawn comb
    the next easiest trick is a starter strip
    here's a pic

    http://www.drobbins.net/bee's/Dsc00780.jpg

    it's just a strip of foundation to get em going right
    there are other way's to do it
    Michael has pics on his website of frames where he ran the topbar thru a tablesaw and cut a triangle on the bottom
    others take the wedge cleat and nail it in sideways
    some folks suggest taking these wooden guides you produce using either of these methods and rubbing them with beeswax
    you're just trying to get the bee's started straight

    I really like the idea of letting the bee's build what's natural for them
    and I REALLY hope it helps with the mites
    Oh, also, I'm a hopeless cheapskate and don't want to pay for foundation [img]smile.gif[/img]

    It's a long time till spring and you have lot's of time to soak up info here
    There's lot's available

    If you're building your equipment, consider what Michael call's a "long hive"
    here's pic's of two I'm building.

    http://www.drobbins.net/bee's/lh/lh.html

    Dave

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Alpharetta, GA, USA
    Posts
    520

    Post

    "the next easiest trick is a starter strip-
    it's just a strip of foundation to get em going right"

    But does it have to be small cell foundation for the starter strip for them to continue building small cell or will regular foundation work?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    Posts
    3,598

    Post

    "But does it have to be small cell foundation for the starter strip for them to continue building small cell or will regular foundation work?"

    I don't think it really matters
    I used SC for the strips because I had some, but I don't think it's necessary
    I believe I've seen Michael describe taking a wet board and dipping in melted wax so it get's covered with a sheet of wax, peel it off the board after it cools, and cut that up for a "blank" starter strip
    now THATS economy for ya [img]smile.gif[/img]
    the whole idea is to not give them a template, let em build what's natural
    I must admit my bee's didn't draw out "small cell" comb
    it's smaller, some is like 5.1 mm, but I started my first hive in april and didn't start messing with this till mid june
    it'll be interesting to see what they do next spring

    Dave

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,431

    Post

    I don't think it makes that much difference, but I think the concept of natural comb would be that you probably shouldn't coerce them into anything. [img]smile.gif[/img] So, if you want a strip, why not make a blank strip? I guess the appeal of the small cell is that IF you're going to coerce them, at least do it in the right direction. [img]smile.gif[/img]
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    El Dorado County, CA
    Posts
    605

    Post

    your where i was last year at this time! im going into this first winter with 2 tbh 2 langs and one long hive. im glad i did all three because i learned i reeeealy prefer horizontal to vertical beekeeping. youll get excellant advice from above posters and others. you can also search past postings for days. that above photo was from an article about bottomless beekeeping,the author didnt seem to concerned with it. be advized that starter strips are just guides and without supervision they may not keep things as neat as we want them. once a week inspections and a little bit of tasty management keeps combs under control.
    all that is gold does not glitter

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,431

    Post

    >i learned i reeeealy prefer horizontal to vertical beekeeping.

    Me too.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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