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  1. #1

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    It is really getting hot now and I am starting to wonder about the depthof my hives. I have two Kenya top bar hives with bees in them. I have one standing by for the next swarm. I made these 23 by 48 inches and am wondering about the length of my comb.

    I can move my floor up in the one hive, what do you think about the depth of my hives?
    Thank you
    Nathaniel

    ------------------
    Old, forgetful and a slow learner

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    23 inches wide or deep? I started out with standard Langstroth deep 19 inches wide (with straight sides) and a standard lanstroth deep (9 5/8" + 3/4" = 10 3/8") decided it was too wide or too deep or both (after a complete comb collapse) and went down to 15 inches wide and sloped sides. My other experiment is a standard medium Lang with top bars so it is 19" bars with it 7 1/4" (counting the bottom board space) deep. Both of these are doing well so far.

    From my experience, if you are 23 inches wide, I would go down to just 7 or 8" deep or a little less if you can.

  3. #3

    Post

    I made them 21" wide, 48" long, 23" deep and I dont really know the degree of the last ones slope. I use 4" of the bottom for the screen floor.
    Nathaniel

  4. #4

    Sad

    Based on my own personal experience last year, I'd say the 23 inches is going to be too deep (too much suspended weight on new comb) and you run the very real risk of comb failure once the summer temperatures take hold. Maybe the temps in GA won't get as high as our TX temps and you'll be okay (but I wouldn't count on it!).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    I decided 10" was too deep and that it contributed to the complete collapse of ALL the comb in the hive.

    That's a long ways from 23".

  6. #6

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    Before I put the sides togather I drilled holes 4 inches apart on the ends, thus I can move the bottom up 4" at a time until you are only 4" deep. I did this out of cocern about all the comb collapse last year. I also built a fold down frame holder on the bacck of the hive, it will hold up to 4 frames at a time and I put hinges on my top, with a prop, like a car hood.
    Im lazy.

    ------------------
    Old, forgetful and a slow learner

  7. #7

    Post

    I moved my floor up (had to cut more of the flooring materal for it had to be wider) but it is now 8" deep. I will keep an eye on the first 2 and hope they do not collapse, but yesterday was really hot.
    I wish to thank everyone for thier replies
    thank you
    Nathaniel

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Knoxville, TN, USA
    Posts
    16

    Post

    Michael,
    The first hive that I built is very similar to the one that you have described above. It has a 19" bar and its about 9.5" deep and 44" long with straight sides. I have not been able to pick up a swarm to put in there yet, but wanted to ask you a few questions before I do:
    1. Was the hive in the direct sunlight when the comb collapsed? How hot was it?
    2. Did the roof of the hive sit directly on the bars? What color was the roof painted? What was it made of?

    My hive is white and the roof sits off of it around 3.5" at top center and 1/2" at the sides. The location will be shaded throughout the heat of the day. Here in East TN, it sometimes gets up around 95 degrees or so. I just wanted to know if I should even get this hive started or tear it down and make something smaller? The reason I made the hive this large is so if I am not able to come up with a swarm by the middle of June or so, I will get a nuc to get it started. I have another hive on standby that I can use until I make up my mind about starting a colony in this hive or not..
    Thanks,
    Doug

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,740

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    >Before I put the sides togather I drilled holes 4 inches apart on the ends, thus I can move the bottom up 4" at a time until you are only 4" deep. I did this out of cocern about all the comb collapse last year. I also built a fold down frame holder on the bacck of the hive, it will hold up to 4 frames at a time and I put hinges on my top, with a prop, like a car hood.
    Im lazy.

    If you shorten it as much as possible without tearing up your comb and let them build them all shallow and wait for the comb to mature, it will be much stronger after some time has elapsed. New comb is very mallable and flexible. Old comb is much stronger. Then you MIGHT get away with making it deeper one step at a time.

    >1. Was the hive in the direct sunlight when the comb collapsed?

    No it was not. It was in complete shade all day.

    >How hot was it?

    It was summer and hot but not extraordinarily hot. I'd say about 90 degrees was the high at the time.

    >2. Did the roof of the hive sit directly on the bars?

    No there was a 3/8" "beespace" between the bars and the roof and the bees could access that from either end by the gap at the end of the bars.

    >What color was the roof painted?

    It wasn't. It was two unpainted pine migratory covers. I had the bars in a double wide deep at the time. (32 1/2" wide).

    > What was it made of?

    3/4 pine.

    >My hive is white and the roof sits off of it around 3.5" at top center and 1/2" at the sides. The location will be shaded throughout the heat of the day. Here in East TN, it sometimes gets up around 95 degrees or so. I just wanted to know if I should even get this hive started or tear it down and make something smaller?

    If it was me, I'd cut some 1" x 3/4" boards and make a slatted rack on the bottom to take up about 3" of the bottom. That will give you cluster space and shorten the comb. If you make the racks "freestadning, then you can just take them out after the comb matures, if you want to try it deeper. Or just cut it down to 7 1/4" deep or so. But that's me.

    >The reason I made the hive this large is so if I am not able to come up with a swarm by the middle of June or so, I will get a nuc to get it started. I have another hive on standby that I can use until I make up my mind about starting a colony in this hive or not..

    It's your call. I only know mine was almost identical and it collapsed. I'm just starting one that is a standard lanstroth medium and it's hard to say how it will work yet, but it seems to do well so far and it's just like yours only 7 1/4" deep (from floor to ceiling) so you could put medium frames in it if you wanted to and have 3/8" bee space underneath. You could go as big as 7 5/8" and still have a 3/4" space on the bottom with a medium frame.

    I admit the idea of making it deeper as the comb matures is tempting, but it does occur to me that harvest puts you back a NEW comb full of HONEY which I think was the main cause of the collapse in the first place. The new comb was soft and the honey was heavy and the when one comb went it fell against the next and it went like a slow row of dominoes.


  10. #10

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    I think the KISS idea is a great one and I would like to make one that way. All my TBH roof is 6"tall with an agjustable vent ( real simple to make) and the one thing that is constant is that heat rises but when all the covieniences are added, it starts to become a little complicated, but once done it is real nice and the hive is usable for a long time ( I hope ).

  11. #11

    Post

    Michael, I am very curious about the comb collapse. I have never gotten straight where the cone tore apart at, was it at the first four inches or was it futher down. if I could get this straight in my mind, it would help me a lot in any future design.

    I don't know if I will be building anymore soon for I am Bee poor at this time. Also I tend to build only as material becomes available. I am on a fixed income. AlsoI feel that I must get more experienced before I stick my neck out any futher, I want to be a good beekeeper and that means don't get ahead of yourself .

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    I would agree, it's a bad idea to build a bunch of experimental hives only to find out you wished you'd done them differently.

    I'm trying to remember now exacly where they broke. I'm sure I posted it and I should look it up, but I don't remember it being right at the attachments. Seems like it tore on a arch shaped tear (curved) but as they went down like dominoes after that, I don't remember how all of them went.

  13. #13

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    Michael, I really do appreciate your comeback. I have priorly done a search on cone collapse and I got eight results, none of them gave the point of collapse.

    When I built my first one I had several criterias in mind, I wanted something an old man could maintain with simplicity and convenience, I also wanted something simple to build, I also wanted it simple to maintain the hive itself in case something rotted or needed to be replaced. I had cone collapse in my mind and really did not know how to handle it except through depth and ventilation.

    After going over everything in my mind and on paper, it became clear that I was going to have to compromise on some of my criteria. the first criteria that had to go was simplicity of building. What do you do with the first two or three bars, while inspecting a hive? I had to come up with a way to put them somewhere while inspecting the hive, thus, the fold down frame holder on the rear of the hive (turned out to be quite simple, that is, if you have a couple of sheets of Plexiglas laying around). Also what do you do with the Lid, so I put a 2x4, with one side cut at an angle, on the side of the hive and attached hinges, I did not know what to do about the depth, so I made it adjustable. Thatis where I am at now.
    Thank you
    Nathaniel

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
    Posts
    930

    Post

    Nathaniel,
    Comb collapse is cause by a combination of two things generally. Heat and weight. Long Deep top bar combs are very heavy, and the wax at the top of the comb bears a GREAT DEAL of weight when a comb is full of honey.

    I make my top bars hive internal dimensions to be 15-16 inches at the top, 6-8 inches at the bottom, and 9-10 inches deep. This provides nice sized combs that still can bear the weight of being full with honey.

    ------------------
    Scot Mc Pherson
    Foundationless Small Cell Top Bar Hives
    BeeWiki: http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/beewiki/

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Sounds like Scott's ended up about the same as mine. I did it for the same reason. So far, I'm liking them a lot.


  16. #16

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    I find myself really interested in this topic, and sense it is up to 90 and 95 degrees here in Georgia at this time, I have decided to cut my throat in order to spite my face. I measured my comb in the two hives I have and they averaged 19 inches wide and 21 inches long. So far the cone is looking good, I closed the two vents that I have in the top of one of the hives. If it fails, my question will have been answered.

    The next top bar that I build will be along the dimensions that all of you have given. I do value your advice and opinions, but I am also inquisitive, and I am wondering if its ventilation that is causing the collapse. The reason that I state that, I was talking to an old beekeeper and he stated that in the wild, the cone was made to the size of the hive and to the size of the material it is attached to. He stated he had seen Cone as long as 6 feet and as wide as four feet in Ferrell hives, He has never purchased any foundation while keeping bees. now if they can make cone this big in the wild, and did not collapse, why is our cone collapsing?

    Questions after questions, but that is the fun part, trying to figure it out, especially when you have a wonderful group of really smart people, who have already been there and done that and are kind enough to share their knowledge and their expertise. Makes this place kind of special.
    Nathaniel

    ------------------
    Old, forgetful and a slow learner

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
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    930

    Post

    Michael,
    Mine ended up how what where? I must have missed something. I haven't had any failures yet.

    Oh wait, you mean dimensions? I guess so. Its the dimensions I have been talking about using since last year.

    [This message has been edited by Scot Mc Pherson (edited May 24, 2004).]

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
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    930

    Post

    Nathaniel,
    One of the reasons why combs can be so large in a feral colony is because the combs can and WILL be attached to the sides and bottom, and with a comb THAT BIG, I am willing to bet therer was a great deal of burr comb supporting the comb laterally from the surface of the comb and not just the edges (i.e. I bet it was attached to the wall it was built next to in several places of the plane). Since we have to be able, and do remove our combs, they can only be supported from the top. Although the combs will be fine in a larger hive, once it gets warm and you detach the combs from the walls and bottom of the hive, the comb isn't able to support itself. This isn't really just a possibility its a near certainty. It is very quite possible why the Crowder hive, the hardison hive and the Bush hive and the Mc Pherson hive have all reached similar dimensions. Its a matter of engineering.

    With a frame, the combs can be MUCH larger such as in teh dadant hive and even much larger than that if wired at smart and regular intervals. But here we are talking about freely hanging combs.

    ALSO understand that the 4x6 ft comb you spoke of was VERY VERY likely mostly brood. Brood is MUCH MUCH lighter than honey. When you have bars full of brood and bars full of honey, compare the difference just by picking them up. The brood combs will feel like nothing, since they are essentialy empty even when full =)


  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Not only will there be a lot of bridge comb on a comb that size, but there is no beekeeper pulling it out and looking at it, moving it around and putting it back.

  20. #20

    Post

    Comb Collapse -- I just lost half my comb in the hive that I blocked the vents, what a mess. The first thing that I noticed was bees flying around the bottom of the 1 hive, I knew I was in trouble. The identical hive setting right next to it is perfectly all right and its cone is looking good.
    Let me explain that I am on a fixed income so I must be frugal with my money, the reason I do not have a full bee suit and a extractor. I made my top bars out of scrap lumber, some of it was a little sappy and bowed after a little while, leaving gaps in the bars, I put all of these in the rear of the hive.

    When I opened the Lid, bees were lined up along these gaps and were fanning. All of my tops are rounded and have five to six inches in the center, with two four inch square vents, that can be closed off by slipping a thin square piece of plywood in from the side.
    I was given some material yesterday that they make cabinets out of and it is supposed to be waterproof and I have cut my sides out and they are twelve inches wide, and after the floor is in I will be left with 8 1/2 inch depth (see I do listen ), it will be 48 inches long and 16 inches wide at the top.

    I am very convinced, but only time will tell, that a lot of the comb collapse is due to ventilation. Yes, I know that weight is the other critical factor, but it will take three of the hives that I'm now building to make one of the ones I have now. I also know that you can go to far with size and mass, but I really would like to make my first hives work. I think they would be ideal, with the proper ventilation.
    I have another question, how do you pour the melted wax into the saw kerf of your top bars? please explain in detail, for I can be kind of dence on these matters .
    thank you
    Nathaniel

    ------------------
    Old, forgetful and a slow learner

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