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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Porter, Ok USA
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    491

    Post

    Hot Diggety **** !

    Neighboring cattleman came by today and told me where to find a big swarm in his pasture. Hot footed it over there and sure 'nuf there it was. Put it in a Crowder-design hive, left it until dusk and brought it home. Had to sqush only one bee (caught between bars and I did not see her until too late) and did not leave a single bee behind. I now have both a Hardison and a Crowder-style hive filled and working.

    Now; all this talk about comb collapse: There are two proven designs--the Hardison hive and the Crowder--both work.

    In a post yesterday Limulus mentioned a beekeeper, Wyatt Mangum, who like Crowder is a professional using TBH's. If we knew what kind of hive Mangum used we would be pretty sure that we knew of three designs that would not fail.

    Limulus; if you are listening why don't you see what you can find out for us?

    I see no reason to re-invent the wheel. If we know what works, lets start there and experiment later.
    Ox

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,419

    Post

    When I designed my latest I had not seen plans to any of these, but I had seen a lot of KTBH that were being used successfully in Africa and I'm sure it get's hotter there. So I decided to just go with what they were doing and see how it worked.

    I agree, experimenting with a TBH can be very frustrating. It would be nice to start with a successful design and go from there.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Boynton Beach, Florida, USA
    Posts
    278

    Post

    Hi Guys,

    You can see Wyatt Mangum's tbhs in the cover shot aove most of his articles in the Bee Culture Magazine. His hives are shallow, narrow and short. They are adequate for his purposes in a warmer climate.

    But they lack enough volume to be self sufficient in food stores or to prevent swarming for my conditions in Wyoming. I need the equilavent of about 3 deep supers.

    I think the jury still out on the comb collapse issue. Comb weight is a factor, but I have seen 6" comb collapse in a tbh. And I've seen pictures of feral comb 6'tall stand with very little reinforcement in a hot, poorly ventilated space.

    I'm leaning toward different management techniques. When the bees start firmly attaching new comb to the sidewalls, it's time to be done with moving/inspecting comb unless it's to be harvasted. Once the comb toughens up these restrictions might not be needed. If I don't try it who will? I don't mind experimenting.

    Congrats on the bees. I know you are going to be having fun and sharing lots of new ideas/observations.

    Happy Tbhing
    Dennis



    [This message has been edited by topbarguy (edited May 23, 2004).]

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Boonsboro, MD, USA
    Posts
    67

    Post

    Oxankle, sorry for the delay, I sent you an e-mail hopefully I can get you the info you need. Wyatt's hives are small, I believe some of the ones he uses for pollination are only 14 bars deep. they are 19" wide, to be compatible with a Lang' hive, but I believe he has reservations regarding his dimentions. He does not harvest honey, but does inspect brood nests regularly, although he does not remove side attachments prior to migration. As far as swarm prevention, I believe that his spring method is to shake out packages (yes he shakes the bees off of tob bar combs, old hard combs to be sure ) and sell his excess bees.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Porter, Ok USA
    Posts
    491

    Post

    Limulus:
    Thanks for the Email. I got some ideas from the citations you gave me. Mangum's hive is shaped like the Hardison hive, but at l9" his top bars are 3 inches longer. One of his articles said that he makes his hives 60cm long, much shorter than we use. I had planned to make a short hive for a "Garden Hive" and put a peaked roof on it just for show. I may do that yet.

    Topbarguy: I think your are correct in that management technique is going to be a big factor in success with the TBH. I think that until the hives have run a full cycle of brood rearing they probably should be left alone. Constant handling can only weaken new comb.

    One of the citations Limulus gave me contained a design for a frame feeder. The article specified that the feeder held a litre of syrup. I don't know anyone who wants to fiddle with a quart feeder. I plan to make a triple-wide that should hold almost a gallon in my hives.

    It also becomes clear that any one beeman must settle pretty quickly on a design and then stick with it. It would be an awful aggravation to have odd sizes and designs of equipment that could not be interchanged.

    Ox


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
    Posts
    930

    Post

    Ox, that's true to some degree, but the beginning stages of TBH development are crucial. If the brood nest isn't developing neatly early on, you need to intervene early so that any damage you cause can be repaired swiftly. Waiting until later discovering you have combs crossing top bars and a nasty brood nest, you almost destroy the colony to fix it later.

    Hampering them early on means a much faster recovery.

    ------------------
    Scot Mc Pherson
    Foundationless Small Cell Top Bar Hives
    BeeWiki: <A HREF="http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/beewiki/" TARGET=_blank>
    http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/beewiki/</A>
    Pics:
    http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Porter, Ok USA
    Posts
    491

    Post

    Scott;

    I finally quit fooling with my top bar hives other than to fog them for mites and to feed them in the fall.

    The Crowder hive is filled wall to wall, the Hardison hive is about 2/3 filled, both are heavy with stores.

    I know that the bees in the Hardison hive are on track, while those in the Crowder hive have tied two bars together toward the back of the hive. I've done enough to know that the rest of the hive is stable.

    Come spring we'll see what a tbh looks like when it is full of brood.
    Ox

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Hirschbach, Bavaria, Germany
    Posts
    643

    Post

    What depths are the Hardison and Crowder. It's great to have a hive that works for you. Why not continue to experiment, keeping in mind that all evidence to date points to depth as a major factor in cell size and cell size a major factor in Varroa control. I would gladly risk comb failure and deal with attachments to have a hive that could survive on its own. Once they are surviving then we can devise a management strategy to deal with the minor problems. Before everyone goes nuts on me I say “minor” because I know that with all the inventive minds here these problems will be solved …eventually it’s a matter of equipment design. IMO we should conquer the big problems first………. Now how about 3 sided frames for a starter suggestion.

    ------------------
    Procrastination is the assination of inspiration.

    Gary

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Berkey, OH, USA
    Posts
    1,487

    Post

    Gary

    Wow I like your thinking. 3 sided frame! that is as strong as it gets!

    should give us something to play with this winter! it will be a challenge

    david

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Wakefield, MA, USA
    Posts
    225

    Post

    Please reiterate: compared to a Tanzanian or KTBH, what are the Crowder and Hardison design particulars? How do they differ? Depths? Advantages to each? Thanks


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Hookstown PA USA
    Posts
    581

    Post

    The hardison and crowder are both Kenyan Top bar designs. Each has a different angle however.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Hirschbach, Bavaria, Germany
    Posts
    643
    I think a top bar and two sides with the bottom left open would solve the problem of attachment and comb failure. You still cut out the comb for harvest and leave a little as a guide. If you also left the corners behind you may even solve the problem of crooked comb. Who knows the fun part is the experiment so far I'm having a blast.

    Scot,
    The less interference the better. I would rathar have equipment that did the job for me. Then I have more time for other experiments.

    Here are some of the ideas I have been toying with:

    Internal and external 5 Liter or better fast delivery feeders.

    Top bars with a wire mesh cage as thick as comb that can be filled with fondant.

    Stackable hives (hard one)

    starter strips and half moon foundation.

    Think about this we get to be involved in the development stage, I know topbars have been around for a long time, but we are setting some kind of standards. Mabey I'm just being a dreamer but I think its cool!

    ------------------
    Procrastination is the assination of inspiration.

    Gary

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Wakefield, MA, USA
    Posts
    225

    Post

    An idea I have yet to try out is a "frame" made by attaching a regular metal coat hanger upside-down along the top bar. If it could be secured easily to the bar (not sure the best way, yet), and made to hang straight, a foundation strip could be laid across it for a starter. The "hook" could be cut off or left on. Could make for an easy TBH frame. The comb could extend down past the hanger but the overall reinforcement would be substantial.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Berkey, OH, USA
    Posts
    1,487

    Post

    Hi Guys
    I was thinking of a standard top bar with two frames extending to a single point, a triangle, which would be very strong. Although there would be more than just bee space between, you could make the hive more ofa triangle, make it deeper with a narrower bottom board. Maybe leave the bottom board off completely and screen it in.

    I like the wire idea too. You could drill a hole in either end of the top bar, run the wire down around the side bars, back up through the top bar, and twist, to give it strength. Not sure what the bees woould do with it, but it might even keep their comb a little straighter. Not sure if you need to put a groove in the side bar.

    david

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Hirschbach, Bavaria, Germany
    Posts
    643

    Post

    Hey All,
    Let's brainstorm the ideas, I mean photos and all. My site is not up yet but the bee blog site would be a good place to post (if I can figure it out). I am going to make some open bottom frames over the winter I want to get them in a hive this spring and try them out.

    I will need someone in a hot climate to also try.

    Anyone else want to participate in a word wide experiment?

    ------------------
    Procrastination is the assination of inspiration.

    Gary

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Wakefield, MA, USA
    Posts
    225

    Post

    As I recall, when I was back at Cornell, Roger Morse was not a big fan of top bar hives, and figured it was not a whole lot more work to make a frame (even a simple straight sided frame)than to make a top bar. This talk of three sided frames reminds me of that, and at some point it seems you might as well make a regular frame, with bee space around it. ? And then we're back where we started.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,419

    Post

    If I were going to make a "TBH" with frames (that's a oxymoron) I'd just build a long Dadant deep (11 1/4" frames) with an 1 1/4" wide top bar and a triangular comb guide. You'd get the nice demenor that the solid top bars give you, the natural comb that a top bar gives you and a frame to support your comb.

    Those are three of the four advantages of a top bar hive. As I see it the four advantages of a TBH are:

    It's horizontal so there are no supers to lift.

    The comb is natural built with no interference by us.

    The top bars make a solid top that keeps the bees calm during maniuplation.

    It's easy to build with simple hand tools and scrap lumber. Much easier than Hoffman frames.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Hirschbach, Bavaria, Germany
    Posts
    643

    Post

    The idea is to brain storm it's an old concept that usually leads to very innovative ideas&gt; I for one refuse to give up before I start.

    The idea with three sided frames is to not limit the depth. If you look at all the pics of the feral nests you will find they are very deep. They did not get that way over night. All the comments I read say that they must have been there for years, or something to that effect. All of Dennis' hard work and the Lusbys point to cell size as a major factor in Varroa control.

    Michael,
    I agree thats why I made both I want to compare and contrast. However I think that it will boil to doing whatever you need to do to allow them to build comb to thier own specs.

    ------------------
    Procrastination is the assination of inspiration.

    Gary

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Wakefield, MA, USA
    Posts
    225

    Post

    Hoffman frames are not necessary for a frame hive. Free-hanging frames were used extensively before and after the design of the Hoffman side bars (called "bee-mashers" by some, back in the day).

    Free-hanging frames have no "shoulders" and require only simple cuts (simpler, I might add, than some TB designs). They are staple or hand-spaced. Morse mentioned them with favor and included illustrations of them in some of his books.

    Natural combs can be built in them, and for that matter, they can be made to any depth desired. They can be wired, and provide the ultimate support, while obviating the comb attachment problem and allowing for ready and safe transport of colonies.

    The practical advantages to a long hive (vs. vertical, storified) are many, as mentioned. As far as the top bars forming a cover, that makes for quieter and easier manipulations, I agree. (Full frames can be built with wide top bars to accomplish the same thing.)

    One of the problems with horizontal hives is (again, according to Morse's experience and opinion) that the colonies do not develop as rapidly and don't thrive as well. I have had vertical (supered) catenary top bar hives that developed and produced pretty much the same as frame hives, although many the honey storage combs (in regular supers) were already drawn, so the bees were saved that work.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Berkey, OH, USA
    Posts
    1,487

    Post

    JWG
    I'm not familiar with the Hoffman frames you describe. Any pics or sketches on line? I will look in my ABC book tonight

    david

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