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  1. #281
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,217

    Post

    >Other than weight of the hive do you see a down side to using thick lumber as I do not plan on moving the hives?

    If the sides of the hive are more than 3/4" then you will have to build the tops to fit. I use migratory covers side by side on my long hives and they butt up against each other. If the hive were wider then the cleats on the migratory covers wouldn't fit.

    >Will the added thickness give more insulation in winter?

    Of course.

    >How hard will it be cutting the angles needed to make a sloping sided TBH with just a skill saw and hand saws but no table saw?

    How straight can you cut? I do this all the time with just a skill saw, but I once free formed an electric guitar body with a skill saw, cut a new round lid for my extractor with a skill saw etc. If you are good with a skill saw, it will be easy.

    >I may just use TBs for honey storage this year above my long hive.

    Are you sloping the sides on the TB supers? I'd say most of us had the most problems with honey. It's heavier. But then if it collapses it seems like less of a loss.

    If it was me and I was going to use top bars for supers, I'd just cut them to fit a lanstroth box and use a shallow super. That way the weight won't be so much. I'm always torn between trying to get a natural arch to the shape of the comb or limiting the weight of the honey in proportion to the attachment to the bar (shallow vs deep). Whatever you decide, good luck. There is a beekeeper around here who for years has used just top bars in shallow supers with starter strips.

  2. #282
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,992

    Post

    >Will the added thickness give more insulation in winter?

    My brother is a carpenter. He tells me that 1" of fiberglass insulation =
    3" of wood
    18" of brick
    21" of average soil
    39" of concrete
    44" of stone masonry

    Kind of makes your head shake. Wood is a good insulator, compared to concreet

    Ian

  3. #283
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    McMinnville, TN, USA
    Posts
    716

    Post

    I am going to make my own tops as well so the extra thickness will not be a problem there. I only got one good arm. My other is usable but is numb so it is hard to do alot with because I am constantly over or under gripping what I want to pick up with it. I guess I will give it a try. I have not used any of my saws since the accident. My plans for a TBH is a 2 X 12 with the angles cut for the sloped side and level the top. I am thinking this would be close to 10 inches deep. Most of you that had the TBHs had deeper hives to my memory. I will be unable to make a fancy top bar. I plan on ripping some 2xs to get the 1 1/2 inch wide bars. I am thinking that I will make these 1 inch thich for added suport partly because of a theory earlier in the thread that suggest the slightest bowing of the top bars may add to comb failer. I will have my TBHs where my colonies are now as I am going to move my hives in the spring. This location is easier to get to and has mid day/ early afternoon shade. The tree that gives them shade is a mighty white oak and I am thinking if I get acouple TBHs made I may suspend one from the lower limb on the south side to see if it makes a better hive to work. Plants that are grown with no wind will not build a thick stalk like those that have had wind blowing on them. This is why trees in the woods are more slender than trees out in the open. Maybe if bee feel a stress like the wind blowing the hive back and forth they will built the comb thicker and help keep the comb from failing. I got this idea from a site given on this board where they made a hive with solid top bar frames(no space for the bees to go up) and made them long and hung them in trees.

  4. #284
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,217

    Post

    I've thought a lot about the slope. I can't say there is more or less attachments, but the more I think about it, I think the corner of the comb was what would sway first and start the failure. I think without that corner sticking out the comb is much stronger and less prone to failure.

    I think I will try two versions this spring.

    1) a 48 3/4" long (three Lanstroth boxes) medium box with top bars to see if a shalower comb will hold up better because of more attachment to the top for the amount of comb.
    2) a 16" wide 11" deep slope sided box to see if the narrower comb with sloped sides will hold up better. This seems to be the more common arrangment for a TBH.

  5. #285

    Post

    I'm new to beekeeping. I'm planning on making some top bar hives this winter out of clear Rubbermaid containers. They seem to be about the right size and I thought it would be cool to see the bees at work. I'm wondering how the bees are affected by a clear hive as opposed to an opaque hive? Should I cover the hive to restrict light into it?

    thanks,
    Daniel

  6. #286
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,217

    Post

    >I'm new to beekeeping. I'm planning on making some top bar hives this winter out of clear Rubbermaid containers. They seem to be about the right size and I thought it would be cool to see the bees at work. I'm wondering how the bees are affected by a clear hive as opposed to an opaque hive? Should I cover the hive to restrict light into it?

    Can you say "Solar wax melter"? Yes you need to restrict the light just to let the bees control the heat. Not to mention allowing the shy queen to get around.

    I just put a sheet of plexiglass on one wall and drill holes in it to screw a frame of 1 x 2's on and then make a board to cover that. I remove the board to peek in. I don't know how the rubber maid plastic will work. I would think you'd get a lot of condensation.

  7. #287
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
    Posts
    804

    Post

    Hi Daniel,

    I don't think a clear plastic container would work very well. The bees, and especially the queen, are sensitive to light and the retreat away from it.

    Also the bees nest in a cavity which helps moderate conditions, from both the summer heat and the winter cold. The plastic container wouldn't provide much moderation.

    I had thought about using a cheap plastic cooler. They can be purchased on sale cheaper than the plastic container. A window could be constructed in one side for viewing and then closed during normal hive operations.

    Most of the cheap coolers are just a little too small for a large colony to overwinter in up North.

    For me, a wooden tbh was cheaper. It was also easier to work with.

    Regards and Happy Beekeeping
    Dennis

  8. #288
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,217

    Post

    I drew up the plans for my slope sided TBH. It is simply a 4' 1 x 6 for the bottom (3/4" x 5 1/2") and two 4' 1 x 12s for the sides (3/4" x 11 1/4") and two 15" long 1 x 12s for the ends. I want to design something anyone can build so I will leave all the ends square and nail through the bottom of the 1 x 6 into the 1 x 12s and then spread the 1 x 12s to 15" at the top and nail the 15" long ends into the sloped sides I think I'll make the entrance in the center of the end. I have those disks for nucs I could use to control the entrance, or I could make it a slot and use a piece of wood for the reducer. I think I'll skip the SBB etc. I figure the comb on this will yeild three 4" x 4" cut comb chunks. I'm afraid of comb collapse if the comb is bigger and afraid of ineffecient laying if it's smaller.

    I'm going to rip 1 bys to 1 5/16" wide to make the top bars and rip the edges of a 1 by at 45 degrees to make a "centerer" that makes a strip I will nail and glue on the bottom of the bars to keep the combs centered. Then I'll wax the lower edge of the "centerer".

    I'm still contemplating going to 1 1/2" or 1 5/8" wide bars for the super portion of the hive.

    I bought the materials last night.

  9. #289
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    McMinnville, TN, USA
    Posts
    716

    Post

    On the same thinking as you, I plan on making my TBH out of 2"X12"s( i have the material from job sites) as sides but I am going to use plywood for a bottom. I want the top the widthbeing the width of the narrow side of the lang and 2 times as long so that I can supper the hive.

  10. #290
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    15

    Post

    I was thinking of doing a TBH this spring, but heres what I was thinking of doing.
    I was going to make my bars so that they fit into a regular medium langstroth. However I was thinking instead of leaving them at that, I could make sides on the top bar that are wider at the top so that the bees attach the comb to the sides too. That would give the comb some extra support and I would not have to worry about comb being attached to the sides of the hive. Im still not sure wether or not to put a bottom bar on it to make it a complete frame. I plan on using my TBH exclusively for comb honey production.

    What do you all think?

    Jon

  11. #291
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    McMinnville, TN, USA
    Posts
    716

    Post

    If you are going to the trouble of adding sides and maybe a bottom bar why not just use frames with a starter strip instead of foundation. The reason I want to try TBHs is to get away from ordering boxes and frames. If I had the money for a table saw and a jointer I would make everything I need. I have a few beekeepers say I am crazy for using 2Xs for the bottom boards I made this year. Yes they are much heavier than the ones made out of plywood but the wood was free and I do not move my hives around. The other reason for TBHs is to watch the bees as close to nature as possible but yet manage them. I have a piece of plexy glass that is going to become the side of my deep long hive. In the back I am planning on using frames with just a starter strip at the top. This way I can actually watch the hive exspand. But we will see if I can get these done while my wife is out of college for winter break. Since my back injury I have become Mr. Mom. What little time she is home she has to study and spend a little with the kids and me. I can not wait for Dec. 19th.

  12. #292

    Post

    I had a question about a post Steve made a while back.

    I belive he said he used bars with no starter strip just the blank bar and that worked just fine. In all the reading I've done about top bar hives I have never heard of this. I'm I reading that correctly and if so it seems like a pretty radical idea. Does anyone have a comment on that idea?

    thanks,
    Daniel

  13. #293
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    McMinnville, TN, USA
    Posts
    716

    Post

    There is a way of cutting your tob bar that makes a V on the bottom of the bars. With these type of bars all you need to do is rub this ridge with wax for a starter. It is said the combs will be straighter and that they are less likely to cross comb.

  14. #294
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,217

    Post

    >I belive he said he used bars with no starter strip just the blank bar and that worked just fine. In all the reading I've done about top bar hives I have never heard of this. I'm I reading that correctly and if so it seems like a pretty radical idea. Does anyone have a comment on that idea?

    I have cut a slope on the bottom of the bar with no starter strip. I have done starter strips. I am experimenting more on what angle to do, but I'm going to do a 45 degree from each side (a 90 degree with the verticie pointing down) this time. The slope works as well or maybe a bit better than the starter strip. But bees will be bees and nothing is gauranteed. I think getting the spacing of the bars right helps keep them in line.

    I tried a longer top bar (standard Lanstroth size) with with straight sides and standard depth (9 5/8") and the combs failed.

    The one I'm building now, the bars are 15" (meaning the combs are only a little over 12") and the sides are sloped. The comb will be about the same depth (9 1/2" or so) but is only about 4" wide at the bottom. This seems to be closer to the TBH's I know of that are succeeding. The acual comb will be half the size (and weight) of what my last failure was.

    I may also try one in a standard medium box to see if just shortening the comb will help with failures. The square comb will be easier to cut with less waste.

  15. #295
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Brandon, Ms, USA
    Posts
    20

    Post

    Hello All:

    Daniel, you did read correctly but I also stated I had originally used a starter strip. In my first year I used 3 or 4 starter strips and once the bees had started building on them I inserted blank bars and the bees lined up and took care of the rest. My bars are flat no v cut. I know that method may not appeal to some but it has worked for me. When I have started new hives since, I just take two bars that have been started or bars that have been harvested and place them in the new hive put a blank between them and the bees have done the rest.
    I had thought I might try a sloped hive but after reading of the difficulty folks had this past summer I have decided to stay with my straight sided design. I have not lost a bar or comb for 2 summers. I did reduce the size of my hives I believe that is what has helped. The inside depth I now use is right at 12 inches, on one box my top bars are 19" long and on the other 17". This summer I collected 60 lbs of surplus honey out of my small hive that can hold only 15 bars. I used the last four bars in the hive for harvest - multiple harvest of that section kept it from becoming honey bound and it did not swarm (the bees filled the bars again in the fall, for winter).

    Happy Hiving,
    Steve

  16. #296
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Near Manhattan, KS
    Posts
    20

    Post

    I've been reading and re-reading the discussion of the tbh and would like some advice. In fact I'll take all I can get. I want to build a top bar hive. I've corresponded with a few of the folks regularly posting here, and have gotten some good tips.

    Now, it's time to pull it all together and start building. I'm figuring on making a Kenyan tbh that would be 16-inches wide and 12-inches deep (inside measurment) and long enough to set about 20 to 24 bars.

    I'm wondering a lot about the smaller details, like openings, ventilation and such. Also, should I put in a wire mesh bottom? What about using some sort of false floor over the wire mesh bottom, if I go that way, like the plastic grids used in the CalKenyan hives? Or, would a solid bottom be better?

    I have a big pile of nice scrap lumber, and the tools and skills needed to build a hive. It can be as simple or detailed as seems approriate. So, tell me, if you were building the tbh of your dreams, what would it look like? Or, if you had to do it all over agian, what would you do differently? Am I on the right track?

    David S.

  17. #297
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,217

    Post

    I will preface this with my experience so far. I built a top bar hive back in the 70's but it was small and temporary. I did not maintain a TBH nor did I attempt another one until last year. I built the bars and simply started them in a standard Lanstroth deep and then moved them to a double wide Lanstroth deep (32 1/2 x 19 7/8") with a screened bottom board. The combs collapsed and I tied them into wooden frames and move them into a Lanstroth hive. From listening to other failures and successes (but this is no from my sucess yet) I decided the combs definitely needed to be smaller and perhaps the open screened bottom board interfered with natural ventilation of the bees and caused the combs to get too hot. So this time I decided to keep it simple and not bother with the screened bottom. I also shortened the bars and sloped the sides. The one I built in the 70's was slope sided so I decided that may have to do with it's sucess. Perhaps it's not about connections to the sides (I tried both sloped and straight now and don't see that much difference) but about the strength of the shape. The one I just built is made from three four foot 1 x 12's a four foot 1 x 6 and two 15" 1 x 12's. I set the 1 x 12's up with the 1 x 6 on top and naile down through the 1 x 6 into the 1 x 12. I marked the center of the 15" boards and the center of the 1 x 6 and nailed the 15" 1 x 12s to the 1 x 6. Then I spread the 1 x 12 sides out to the ends of the 15" ends and nailed them. I'm making my bars out of 1 x ripped to 1 1/4" for the brood chamber (I have small cell bees) and 1 1/2" for the back portion which will be the honey. I was thinking of leaving the gap at the front between the edge and the first bar for the entrance. I have an old piece of 3/4 plywood I'm putting on top for a lid so that would leave a gap about 5/16" at top between the lid and the box.

    >Now, it's time to pull it all together and start building. I'm figuring on making a Kenyan tbh that would be 16-inches wide and 12-inches deep (inside measurment) and long enough to set about 20 to 24 bars.

    Sounds reasonable. I would probably make it a little longer. The size I did and the method I used required no ripping of the sides and all cuts are square. 16 inches wide will reqire something wider than a 1 x 12 to do the sides and have it 12" deep. Mine ended up closer to 10 1/2" deep.

    >I'm wondering a lot about the smaller details, like openings, ventilation and such.

    Play it by ear. Leave an opening. See if they seem too hot and all hanging outside and decide if you need more ventilation. If so, I'd try to have the door and the vent at opposite ends at opposite heights. In other words, if the entrance is on the top, put the vent in the back at the bottom. If the entrance is on the front at the top, put the vent in the back at the bottom. Put some screen wire on the vent in the back and make a cover that lets the air in but blocks the direct light so they don't propolize it so much.

    >Also, should I put in a wire mesh bottom?

    That's up to you. I skipped it this time, but I came to the conclusion that I'm building an experiment, not a permenant hive. I think the open SBB may have contributed to failure of the comb.

    >What about using some sort of false floor over the wire mesh bottom, if I go that way, like the plastic grids used in the CalKenyan hives? Or, would a solid bottom be better?

    I like slatted racks in my hives and that was what the CalKenyan was trying to emulate. I like the idea. As I said, I concluded that this was just an experimental and after I work out the details of comb size and shape I'll polish up the design.

    >I have a big pile of nice scrap lumber, and the tools and skills needed to build a hive. It can be as simple or detailed as seems approriate. So, tell me, if you were building the tbh of your dreams, what would it look like? Or, if you had to do it all over agian, what would you do differently? Am I on the right track?

    I decided the main appeal of a TBH was simplicity. So I went for simple this time.

  18. #298
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
    Posts
    804

    Post

    Hi Guys,

    Ok. Now you have done it. You/ve got me thinking about my tbh. :> )I had the lumber cut for my next tbh and was waiting for a really nasty spell of winter weather to assemble it.

    I continue to have questions concerning entrances and ventilation. I have found that the bees do best when my hives approximate what they want if left to themselves. But I have my drill handy and can modify my understanding anytime their behavior dictates. :> )

    I would add a cleat across each end of my tbh. I move my hives and the tbh is easy to move with a cart but hard to position without the cleats.

    I will make my next top bars 1 3/8"s wide rather than the 1 1/4"s prevously used. The narrower bar worked perfect in the broodnest but the bees over-ran it in the honey storage area. I'm not sure if the wider bar will work any better there.

    My top bars will be thicker at 1" rather than 3/4"s.

    I will cut attached comb using an L or J shaped device like the one mentioned earlier on this forum. The hive tool will stay in the truck.

    Any starter strip used won't extend farther than about a cell width beyond the top bar.

    One of the neatest aspects of a tbh is that they are designed, built and run according to the beekeepers needs. I've found them most rewarding so far.

    Regards
    Dennis


  19. #299
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,217

    Post

    I am cutting the corner off of a 1 by and using it glued and nailed (and clinched) on to the top bar. This keeps the bar from sliding back and forth, sidways, and elimimates the starter strips altogehter.

    So the end of the bar looks like this:
    _
    V

  20. #300
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Near Manhattan, KS
    Posts
    20

    Post

    Michael and Wrangler, I have quite a bit of 3/4 plywood, so I can make my hive 12 inches deep easily enough. All the other dimensions can be varied as well. I've deduced from my reading that the folks having problems with comb breakage, for the most part, have top bars longer than 16 inches, so I settled on that figure for my inside width. Not all the breaking combs have been in deep hives, but most seem to have been, so I figured 10 to 12 inches would make a good compromise.

    I was reading at the Steve Cushman site, I believe I've got it right, about the catenary hive desing. There's mention there of putting a baffle just inside the entrance, allowing a bee space, to stop wind from blowing in. So, here's what I'm wondering: If I make a tbh with a 1.25-inch round hole for an opening, as there seems to be an argument for that, if I placed a larger disk, say 2-inches, one bee space away, on the inside of the hive, centered over the opening, would it help any, or would it hurt? Also, would it be worthwhile to leave the equivalent of one bar's space at the front of the hive for a lobby area for the bees to move through?

    Here's my next "issue." You can read on-line at http://www.beedata.com/data3/hollow_tree.htm about an interesting experiment. The guy decided that combs should be kept six inches above the floor, and likewise the entrance should be that high, or higher, for mite control. Would it be worthwile to put some sort of slatted bottom in a tbh, stopping combs from extending below six inches above the floor, in accordance with the hollow tree theory? If it is, would having a solid bottom, or a wire mesh bottom make any difference?

    In this case, how about putting a vent hole near the bottom, back and the opening up high? It would make for a natural draw, to some extent. I think someone here wrote about natural ventilation in hives. This would make sort of a combination tbh and hollow tree hive.

    Here's a theory I shared with one of the other tbh guys on the side: if the top bars were made in a boomerang shape, viewed from the side, when placed in the hive, they would rise from the supported ends to form a ridge down the top of the hive, like many of the house-roof-like covers put on hives. Comb built from these top bars would be somewhat stiffer and less likely to break away from the bar due to movement (although maybe not due to heat) it certainly adds a level of complication to the tbh, but would it perhaps help enough with comb breakage to be worth while?

    One final question. I've seen a mention here somewhere of an optimum hive capacity, or volume, the way I understood it. Does anyone know what that is?


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