In reading the "book" about TBH's, the author mentions that the best results he has seen in a TBH for straight comb was where a full sheet of beeswax foundation was used as a starter strip. Has anyone else used this? If so, how do you keep it attached? Or do the bees just work to attach it better?
I am just starting to build 3 TBH's for my April 1 delivery date of 3# packages. Using 10" pine for ends and side, 2x4's ripped for Top bars and for legs. I will take some pics and post if there is someplace to do that...
I cut a groove in the bar and use a wax tube fastener to wax the foundation into the groove. It will probably work fine, but one problem with full sheets is with it warping if it gets too hot and doesn't get drawn soon enough. Also, sometimes even the melted wax lets go, so if a lot of bees are hanging on the foundation it is possible it may detach before the bees get it built to the bar.
FYI When I did this in a TBH I was using DuraComb (Dadant) which is embossed wax on smooth sheets of thin plastic. It doesn't warp so much and is much stronger than plain wax.
I see no reason to use a whole sheet of wax foundation. Beside the warping problem, I don't think the bees would be as successful at attaching it to the top bar.
What I used was some old strips of "thin surplus" foundation and this seemed to work fine. I also just grooved the top bar and hot wax melted a not so wide strip into place (perhaps 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch wide strip and as long as I could make this old, brittle foundation). I filled the rest of the groove with the melted wax so the bees would have a "straight" pattern to follow (and they did). The bees took off with it and drew out the rest of the comb and attached it very strongly to the top bar. Photos are in my Yahoo profile.
I have found a minimalist approach worked just as well as using strips. I saw a shallow kerf down the center of each top bar and fill it with melted beeswax. The bees centered on it as well as they did on my strips.
Leaving a slight ridge in the center of the top bar appears to have some advantages. It may be easier to get the bees to attach comb to the ridge when making comb corrections. The ridge could be primed by rubbing it with beeswax.
I would like to see your photos. But beesource wasn't really setup to handle photos. Barry has to hand code an html page to include them. And he's very busy with other things.
Let me see what I can come up with. I think an tbh album would be a benefit.
[This message has been edited by topbarguy (edited February 28, 2004).]
What I am doing is cutting the top bars at 10<sup>o</sup> angles leaving a 1/16" or so ridge at the center. To this I am generously rubbing beeswax.
Using foundation or starter strips has some disadvantages already noted. Another disadvatage seems to be that the bees simply don't seem to attach the whole comb to the top bar, but start building comb below the top bar. This provides a much weaker attachment at the top since its only the foundation that is holding the entire comb.
Thanks for advice. Appreciate it!
This time, I cut the corner off of a 3/4" (one by) board and glued and nailed this on the bottom of the bar with the 90 degree point down. This makes a 45 degree on each side. I will let you know how this works.
Previously I've usually done either a strip of foundation or blank foundation or I cut an angle of 15 degrees on the bottom of the bar. All of these worked somewhat. But sometimes they try to cheat especially on the ends of the bars. That's one of the reasons I wanted to go to 1 1/4" in the brood and 1 1/2" in the honey area. Seems like in spite of the centering devices the bees try to space them further in the honey area and narrower in the brood area.