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  1. #61
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,925

    Post

    >I have a few photos of my first TBH located on my yahoo profile: //profiles.yahoo.com/txbeeguy

    I looked at it. It's interesting. You have a very narrow bottom. I don't think I've seen one that narrow.

    >I used scrap wood so the cost was "free". The cover will be one of those plastic ridged panels (like you see as skylights in some barns or metal shop buildings.

    I wonder how the bees will respond to all the light? Maybe your bars are solid without notches? Then they wouldn't get much, but it will still incite them to do more of sealing the cracks between the bars when they see light.

    >The angled sides are 22 deg off the verticle and the top bars are 19" long (so they will fit in a lang box if needed). It will hold 30 top bars and the 'follower board' in a snug fit (but I still will use the plastic cover for additional protection against the rain and sun).

    All of the early top bar hives I built I went about 22 degrees also. I've given up an decided to just go with perpendicular sides. I haven't had them long enough to know what I think. Partly I wanted interchanability between Langs and the top bars. I agree with making it the same width for that reason.

    Be sure you let us know what you love and hate about it after you get to use it.

  2. #62
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,925

    Post

    Here's how I started with top bar hives:

    Back in the early 70's all the propaganda I'd ever read about hives said anything but a Lanstroth hive was stupid, dangerous, illegal, and backwards.

    I'd read how the Greeks had built sloped walled basket hives with top bars on them. Since the hive was round, the bars weren't interchangable.

    I was too poor to buy all the hives I wanted, and I was a carpenter with access to lots of small scraps of wood for free. So first I built a super that was the size of a Lang on the bottom (16 1/4") and sloped up. I used 1 x 12s for the sides. I used 2 x 2s for the bars. I put a bevel on them and waxed the bevel by just rubbing beeswax on it. Then I cut notched on the ends so the ends would be flat. I also cut grooves in some and put some foundation in it.

    The bees happily worked this super. They drew the foundation a little quicker than the waxed bevel, but they drew them both. I had no extractor so getting comb honey was already the norm.

    My next attempt was to make a bottom box that ended up at the standard Lang size on the top but was smaller on the bottom because of the slope. Then I drilled holes between the bars. I didn't go down the middle, as I see people doing now, I made two rows down a third of the way from the sides because I thought it would weaken it less (2 x 2 bars and I was worried about weakening them. lol) I drilled them with all the frames in the box. It looked a lot like txbeeguy's hive only shorter in length. Really narrow on the bottom. I used this for a brood box (it was really too small) and the super I already had on top of it. It worked ok. I just had to keep the brood nest from getting honey bound or they would swarm. I could use the sloped top bar super or a standard super on it. It was an interesting experiment. I pulled a couple of frames and let them move into the top box and retired the brood nest box, but still used the super on occasion.

    I built another box the same as the first super and put it on top as a super. This made a kind of flare going up and then the next box was set in. I put 1 bys on the outsides to cover the exposed part of the top bars and put holes in the top bars so they could get into the super. This worked pretty wall also.

    Eventually when I got more standard equipment, I moved them into that and just used the boxes for supers.

    A year or two later I saw a Kenya hive in the ABJ and was surprised how much it resembled what I had built. At the time mine was vertical (like I was used to thinking) and theirs was horizontal. That was the first time I has seen an alternative to buying hives presented in a bee journal.

    Recently I got interested again when I read Satterfield's pages and found out the sides could be straight instead of sloped. And now this site.

    I also raised bees in a standard Lang sized box with 1 x 2 bars and no bevel, foundation or anthing else. If you wanted to rob it, you smoked it real heavy and gently set it on it's side and by cutting from the bottom or the top you'd get some honey comb out and free up some space. Sometimes you could get one of the bars off the top so you could see from both sides and cut comb out. It's not as bad as it sounds, but it was only an experiment. Eventually I cut all the brood comb out and put it in frames and robbed all the honey. But if it was the only way I had to raise bees, it would be worth doing.


  3. #63

    Big Grin

    About the light: I decided to not put a notch in my top bars so the light won't be a problem. Also, between the plastic cover and the top bars, can be placed an old blanket if desired - Russian technique. The plastic cover is mainly for protection against rain and general "weathering" of the top bars from the sun and such.
    To add a super on top of the hive, I will remove a single top bar and cover that area of the top bars with a sheet of black plastic (fairly thick, not garbage bag variety) with a narrow elongated hole cut in it. As I understand, the bees will not try to build comb in that area due to the flexing plastic sheet but will have access to the lang super on top.
    I've read about the "debate" as to whether sloped side are necessary. I thought I'd run my own little "experiment" and use this TBH and also use a standard Lang deep box with my top bars and see which colony tends to attach more brace comb to the sides. Maybe there will be a difference and maybe not.
    As you saw, yes it's deep with a screened bottom - I figured it couldn't hurt with varroa mite control and it might just help (a little). Also the added 'air flow' from the screened bottom should help during the summers with our Texas heat. And as you saw, I also have a 'false bottom' board I can put in during winter to block out some of that air flow during the winter. I'll post again later with pros and cons...

  4. #64
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
    Posts
    804

    Post

    Hello Everyone,

    After looking at all the various designs for tbhs, I thought I would build the plainest one possible. The sides consist of three 1"x6"s about 3feet long. The bottom consists of two 1"x6"s and the top bars are 24" long.
    I am considering using them in a non-migratory sideline operation.

    Guess what? The slope off vertical is 22 degrees. No kidding. Have we discovered the Golden Ratio for Tbh's? :> )

    It is most interesting to see the different desings and implementations of this idea.

    Are we having fun yet?
    Dennis


  5. #65

    Post

    About the slope off verticle [BWrangler]:
    ha! ha! maybe...
    However, there certainly wasn't anything "scientific" about my decision. I had actually started off with 30 deg and due to the {scrap} plywood I was using for the sides of my TBH, that much of an angle made the plywood too wide and didn't allow for an opening at the bottom. So I backed it off until the results you see and then I measured the angle and it turned out to be 22 deg off verticle. (So you can see, it certainly wasn't "planned"...just turned out that way). The hinged back door of the hive will make it easy to vacuum debris off the inside of the bottom screen (if necessary) and will allow me to place the temporary "bottom board" in during the winter months.

  6. #66
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,925

    Post

    It's been so long since I arrived at the number, it's hard to remember exactly, but I either measured it from a photograph of the Greek basket hives (which they still use) or the article I read describe the angle of the baskets.

  7. #67
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,396
    Dennis Murrell now has his TBH design online.
    http://www.beesource.com/eob/althive/murrell/index.htm

    Thanks Dennis. He kept it simple and the cost low to where anyone should be able to make it. Can you explain more about the bar supports you designed?

    Regards,
    Barry

  8. #68
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
    Posts
    804

    Post

    Hello Barry and Everyone,

    The "T" shaped frames are not a original idea of mine. I first started thinking about tbhs in the late '70s and sometime since I've read about them. I can't remember where though.

    The vertical piece is designed to provide some support for any inadvertant rotation of the comb when the topbars are worked. It reaches almost to the bottom of the hive.

    I will run a bead of beeswax down the center of the topbar and down each side of the vertical support. Hopefully the bees will attach the comb to both points and the comb will be stronger and resist breaking off the topbar. I might have to move this hive twice a year and would hate to hit the breaks and dislodge the comb.

    In addition I will cut a couple of small communication holes in the drawn comb on each side of the vertical support.

    I toyed with the idea of using 2 shorter pieces toward the outside edges of the frame rather than the single center one. I have prepared several topbars this way also.

    Best Wishes
    Dennis


  9. #69

    Big Grin

    TBH completed and ready for the bees. Last of my photos are at: http://profiles.yahoo.com/txbeeguy

    Starter strips are in place and just waiting for my first Spring split!
    Total cost of the hive was under $20 (and most of that was for the cover and bunge straps)

  10. #70
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
    Posts
    804

    Post

    Hi TxBeeGuy,

    I looked at the tbh pictures in your briefcase. Neat!

    Dennis

  11. #71
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Sapulpa,OK USA
    Posts
    174

    Exclamation

    Hello TBH users I like both of these designs recently posted. One question what is the purpose of the solid frame (follower board)?

    I have thought of some thing I'm thinking about trying. Tell me what you guys think of useing old ice chest/coolers to some as a TBH. I was thinking about cutting the bottoms out with my skill saw and installing a screen for a bottom board. I was thinking about attaching a thin ledge on both sides to support the frames, plus it would already have a hinged lid.

  12. #72
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,925

    Post

    >Hello TBH users I like both of these designs recently posted. One question what is the purpose of the solid frame (follower board)?

    With a conventional Lanstroth hive the size of the hive is adjusted by adding or subtracting supers. This way you can start with a small enough area the bees can keep the atmosphere correct for raising brood when there aren't that many bees yet, and then you can increase the size so there is enough room when the population increases and you need lots of honey storage area.

    With a top bar hive you do this with a follower board. You can make the cavity larger or smaller by moving the board.

    If you keep a small top bar hive you could get by without the follower board, but you have to rob out honey more often so it doesn't get too crowded and still the population may reach a point where they don't all fit inside to cluster at night.

    If you run a large top bar hive, you will have better luck using the follower.

    >I have thought of some thing I'm thinking about trying. Tell me what you guys think of useing old ice chest/coolers to some as a TBH. I was thinking about cutting the bottoms out with my skill saw and installing a screen for a bottom board. I was thinking about attaching a thin ledge on both sides to support the frames, plus it would already have a hinged lid.

    I you have an old cooler around and don't care about ruining it, it should work, but what will the bars hang on? You'd have to put in rails or somthing for the rests and then you've increased the space to the wall under the rest and then the bees will be more likely to attach the combs to the frame rest or run the combs under the rest. If you put a one by all the way down the side for the bar rest it would solve this, but now you've built a wall anyway, so why ruin a good cooler?

    I would suppose with a syromfoam one that has some thickness to the foam you might be able to cut a frame rest in the foam, but the styrofoam coolers are pretty fragile.

    Advantages: Should be well insulated in the winter.

    Disadvantages: You ruin a good cooler.

    Unless you just want to get rid of an old cooler, I'd just make it out of scrap wood.

  13. #73
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
    Posts
    804

    Post

    Hello Everyone,

    >Tell me what you guys think of useing old ice chest/coolers to some as a TBH.

    I had the same thoughts and checked out the stock at Walmart. Most of the coolers under $20 were too small. A cooler of the right size was about $50 which is more than it cost to build one from wood.

    I had planned to cut a rabbit along the sides of the cooler and insert a wooden frame rest there. It should work quite well.

    But it's so easy to build one. I think a very simple and cheap design, even cheaper than mine, could be built along Barry's design if the plywood ends could be scrounged. Pallet lumber could be used for the sides and a simple top bar could suffice. I bet it could be done for less than $10.

    I still looking for a very neat scroungable alternative. Anyone have any ideas? I would like to get a sideline size operation up and running using tbh type hives.

    Best Wishes
    Dennis


  14. #74

    Thumbs down

    I had actually thought about using an old cooler too (the styrofoam type) but was faced with how to make it more durable - fiberglasing it came to mind but with all that trouble, quickly came the decision that wood would be easier to work with. I did see on the 'net that some guy in eastern europe (Romania, if memory serves me correctly), made a couple of TBH's out of old, discarded refrigerators (the small european type - more like our small wet bar or office type of refrigerators).

  15. #75
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,925

    Post

    One of the nice things about a top bar hive, is you can work with what you have. If you have to buy all new materials or buy something that really isn't made for it, I'm not sure how practical it is.

    I'm not sure what's in a typical dumpster at a home job site now, but I would guess you could easily find enough materials for several hives in a typical one. You'd just have to plan for the materials you have.


  16. #76

    Smile

    Michael, now I'm really laughing! That's exactly where I DID find my "construction materials"! I used to live 'out in the country' but now they're building houses all around me. So natually, that became a great source of TBH material. I found enough 1x4's to make about 100 top bars (which is what you see in one of my photos). The best part is: they were just going to trash this leftover material; same goes for plywood too. In fact, it's why I said my hive was built for less than twenty bucks. I used a quart of paint which I paid $1 for at Home Depot (on their return shelf) and it was good quality 'exterior' paint! The fact it matches the colour of the top cover was purely accidental! So pretty good sized hives (thirty "frames" or equal to three deeps) can be built for little or nothing.

  17. #77
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,925

    Post

    I know it was considered "wrong" when I did it and it was probably illegal when I did it, but I raised bees in just a box with miscellaeous one bys for a lid just to see what the bees would do. I got them out of a house so I didn't think I was risking much at the time (at least not money) The bees were free. The box didn't cost anything because it was scrap and I was a carpenter so I never bought nails. I was surprised to discover how orderly the hive was.

    Then I went on to try the top bar thing based on a reference to the greek baskets. I'd never heard of anyone doing such a thing at the time. I did it because I enjoyed bees and frankly I was dirt poor.

    The top bar hives I built didn't cost anything either.

    Some of my favorite covers for Langstroth hives were the cut outs from formica counter tops for the kitchen sink. It has some weight to it so it stayed on resonably well and the formica would last forever.

    I built my first trough hive (not a top bar hive) as an attempt to help an old lady who loved bees but couldn't lift any boxes. It was built out of scrap also. I only bought the frames. It took 30 deep frames. I'd never seen a trough hive, nor did I have a name for it, then.

    This was all in the early '70s.

  18. #78

    Post

    >Some of my favorite covers for Langstroth hives were the cut outs from formica counter tops for the kitchen sink.

    It's exactly what I made my 'follower board' out of on my TBH.

    My grandparents kept bees when I was growing up in Kentucky and they kept bees in wooden boxes too (called bee gums). But then, as you say, moveable frames became the mandate and the bee gums slowly were replaced with Langstroth hives.

  19. #79
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Richmond, VA, USA
    Posts
    24

    Post

    Thanks to everyone for this informative and useful thread. I'm getting ready to build a tbh modeled on this one built by Steve:
    http://www.xscd.com/tbh/

    I was inclined against putting in the extra top entrance. With the attic, it's not needed for ventilation, and I'm not planning on installing supers. Anyone have any thoughts about the advantages and disadvantages of the extra entrance?

    Also, is there any reason, with a tbh, that I can't screw the bottom board to the hive body to help prevent racking and warping?

    Finally, do I understand correctly that some of you are painting the exterior of the hive and "finishing" the interior with FGMO? Do you finish the entire interior surface, except for the top bars, with FGMO? Does it have any effect on the willingness of mail order bees to accept the hive?

    Thanks for any assistance.

  20. #80
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,925

    Post

    >Thanks to everyone for this informative and useful thread. I'm getting ready to build a tbh modeled on this one built by Steve: http://www.xscd.com/tbh/

    This looks like a well thought out design.

    >I was inclined against putting in the extra top entrance. With the attic, it's not needed for ventilation, and I'm not planning on installing supers. Anyone have any thoughts about the advantages and disadvantages of the extra entrance?

    I think the ventilation will greatly increase production. I like the top entrance too. Also you can smoke the bees through the top, like a traditional inner cover, before opening it up.

    If you want to simplify things, you can skip all of that. Simple top bars with a piece of wood for a lid work.

    >Also, is there any reason, with a tbh, that I can't screw the bottom board to the hive body to help prevent racking and warping?

    None at all. The only reasons for not screwing it together are so you can clean the debris off the bottom easily.

    >Finally, do I understand correctly that some of you are painting the exterior of the hive and "finishing" the interior with FGMO?

    I often paint the walls and the top of the bars with FGMO. Of course if you don't have the top entrance and the notches then the bees can't get to the top of the bars anyway.

    >Do you finish the entire interior surface, except for the top bars, with FGMO?

    Not really a finish, it's for the mites and to keep things from getting as connected to the walls.

    >Does it have any effect on the willingness of mail order bees to accept the hive?

    The FGMO has no smell. The package shouldn't care. You could try Axtmans recipe for propolis shellac and then put the FGMO on top of that.

    Personally I like most everything about the hive you refer to. I like the ventilation. I like the top entrance. I like the screened bottom board.

    What I'm not so sure about:

    I don't care for the little holes myself. Maybe it breaks up the draft and maybe it's a good thing, but I'm used to being able to really open up and entrace during a heavy flow and shut it down in spring and fall, so I prefer something with an slot for an entrace reducer.

    I'm not so sure I like the notch in the very middle of the frame because it weakens it. But the bars look sturdy enough.

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