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  1. #41
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,320

    Post

    It does look like a beveled top bar.

    I posted a picture of my Dadant Deep foundationless frames on my web site:
    http://incolor.inetnebr.com/bush/images/DadantDeep1.jpg

  2. #42
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Guatemala
    Posts
    244

    Post

    Top bar hives are fascinating. I enjoy reading all your ideas and innovations.
    Apparently all of you guys keep only a few hives for fun, since I have not read ANY notes on crop size (honey, wax).
    Please share some of your data on harvesting and honey processing.

    I believe that using simple, triangular or elyptical frames with comb attached to more than the top bar will be an advantage if one chooses to use extractors (the tangential type) instead of having to crush and squeeze the combs.

    I live in Guatemala, Central America, and most beekeeping is stationary, so moving hives is hardly done. Depending on the site and weather conditions, folks are getting from 40 to 100 lbs of honey per hive, but very little wax. Does anyone know of bee projects being very profitable using TBHs ?
    Has anyone tried putting in small cell foundation to frames in a TBH ?
    Evidently one of the advantages of the TBH is the lower initial cost as compared to Langstroth style.

    I invite you all to share crop figures and not only design concepts. I am sure money is important to some of you.

    How about pollen traps fitted to TBHs ? Anyone come up with that kind of innovation ?

  3. #43
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Hirschbach, Bavaria, Germany
    Posts
    643

    Lightbulb

    It's all in your imagination; design the hive around what you want to do. If it's pollen you want design the entrance to accommodate your pollen trap.

    Topbars produce much more wax than Langs do but Langs produce more honey. As far as pollination and crops go I cannot comment I don't have any experience. I don't think there are any keepers on the site using topbars for pollination. I wouldn’t want to try to move them with fragile comb.

    If you search the site for designs you will find many posts and links to sites with different plans. A big advantage is that you can build them out of almost anything.

    A press can be made from a scissor jack and I have read somewhere that the quality of pressed honey is better than that of honey flung through the air...don't really know if it's true.


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

    Gary

  4. #44
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Guatemala
    Posts
    244

    Post

    I agree that creativity has no limit.
    Some have said that if we seek to have full frames on top bar hives, we might just use Langs. I agree there too. The point I was trying to make was that reinforced combs will improve on top bar hive management; besides, making a three sided frame (triangle) WITHOUT the precision cuts and notches has to be a lot cheaper than state- of-the-art-Hoffman-self-spacing-bees-couldn´t-care-less frames.

    A basic question here arises: since top bars yield more wax BECAUSE combs are crushed to extract whatever honey there is,
    could beekeepers switch to making equivalent money return from the extra wax and less honey ?
    The reinforcement of combs by means of making full frames does not necessarilly mean you will not crush the combs. It simply means that combs will hopefully be attached to the sides and prevent comb breakage before it´s time to render them.

    Screened bottoms are also becoming quite popular. How much cheaper it is to screen the underside of a top bar hive !

    As far as top ventilation goes, I suppose any little crack between tops bars provides for that.

    About colony manipulation: do you apply the same management criteria for top bar hives, regarding the re-accomodation of combs in the brood chamber? Or do you let bees do their own design ?

    Let´s try some math: I´ll throw in figures for Guatemala market conditions, because it´s what I know best:

    Langs yield
    honey = 70 lbs @ $1.35 retail price if sold directly to customers = $ 94.50
    wax = 2 lbs @ $ 3.00 = $ 6.00
    pollen = 4 lbs @ $ 7.50 = $ 30.00
    Total sales =$ 130.50

    Top bar yield:
    honey = 50 lbs @ $ 1.35 = $ 67.50
    wax = 5 lbs @ $ 3.00 = $ 15.00
    pollen = 4 lbs @ $ 7.50 = $ 30.00
    Total sales =$ 105.00

    The cost of the hive is at this point irrelevant, because the investment must be divided by the number of years the equipment will be serviceable.

    This excercise is intended to get a conversation going. I have actually no idea of top bar yields, so my figures might just be unrealistic. Any inputs ?


  5. #45
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Hirschbach, Bavaria, Germany
    Posts
    643

    Post

    >Some have said that if we seek to have full frames on top bar hives, we might just use Langs. I agree there too. The point I was trying to make was that reinforced combs will improve on top bar hive management; besides, making a three sided frame (triangle) WITHOUT the precision cuts and notches has to be a lot cheaper than state- of-the-art-Hoffman-self-spacing-bees-couldn´t-care-less frames.<

    Here is where the misconception of the idea occurs. My idea of a three sided frame is not a triangle it is only a topbar with the two sides NO bottom. The idea behind the experiment is not to limit the depth. My hives are 16 inches deep so I dont think the bottom will limit the cell structure..this is yet to be seen. The overall idea is to let the bees build what they want, where they want to take max advantage of the natural way they combat mites i.e. cell size. I suggest you go to Dennis' site and read his research and all the Lusby's work in the POV section and you will get a better idea.

    >could beekeepers switch to making equivalent money return from the extra wax and less honey ?<

    Depends on your market.

    >Screened bottoms are also becoming quite popular. How much cheaper it is to screen the underside of a top bar hive !<

    Haven't tried yet.

    >As far as top ventilation goes, I suppose any little crack between tops bars provides for that.<

    Not always they seem to glue them up pretty good. I just had an opportuity to open them and there was moisture on the bars.

    as far as your market conditions go. Are you sure you can make a profit?




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

    Gary

  6. #46
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Guatemala
    Posts
    244

    Post

    Thanks for replying Miki.
    I guess depth is in fact limited by the bottom of the hive. I´ve seen some impressive pictures of natural comb on TBHs a few minutes ago, and I guess a triangle shape would in fact limit comb shape. It looks more like elyptical, so perhaps a bent piece of thin lumber (veneer) or bamboo will mimic natural shape better.

    Profit is to me an important issue. Market conditions of course determine sale price.

    Any comments on yield ?

    How do you crush the combs ? Are you getting pollen-rich honey ?
    Do you harvest any combs that have small brood areas, or just all-honey + pollen-honey combs ?

    Is your wax loaded with pollen that didn´t get squeezed out ?

  7. #47
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Hirschbach, Bavaria, Germany
    Posts
    643

    Post

    I did not harvest this year it was a bad season here in Germany. I left it all on for winter. I think Michael or Dennis are more qualified to answer that one.

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

    Gary

  8. #48
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
    Posts
    930

    Post

    gauatabee,
    >Some have said that if we seek to have full frames on top bar hives, we might just use Langs. I agree there too.<

    I sort of agree. For comb honey though I designed a triangular section frame for my TBHs. They are also made from the scraps I have left over from cutting topbars.

    >The point I was trying to make was that reinforced combs will improve on top bar hive management; besides, making a three sided frame (triangle) WITHOUT the precision cuts and notches has to be a lot cheaper than state-of-the-art-Hoffman-self-spacing-bees-could´t-care-less frames. <

    This I don't agree with at all. The bees care VERY much about their space. When you use a TBH design, if you don't find a way to space the TopBars exactly as the bees like, OR provide a starting guide somehow, you will discover how much they do care when the gets farther and farther off center as the bees move back into the hive. Plus they have different ideas how comb should be spaced once you move between brood nest and honey storage.

    Usually:
    Brood spacing == 32-35mm
    Honey Spacing =>38mm

    >A basic question here arises: since top bars yield more wax BECAUSE combs are crushed to extract whatever honey there is,
    could beekeepers switch to making equivalent money return from the extra wax and less honey ?<

    Only if your market supports a price for bees wax that is roughly 8x more than the proce for honey, which is I think in almost every case not so. Here in the USA we can get between $1 - $8 or more per Lb. for honey depending on how and who we sell to and how special the honey is. Wax fetches between $.50 - $2 per Lb. and so far I haven't ever seen "special bees wax". So its generally more economic to focus on honey sales, and either use the wax for your own personal use as candles or lib balms or whatever. Perhaps you can develop you own bees wax product to improve the value of your wax, but then you aren't selling bees wax per se, but a bees wax "product".

    >The reinforcement of combs by means of making full frames does not necessarilly mean you will not crush the combs. It simply means that combs will hopefully be attached to the sides and prevent comb breakage before it´s time to render them.<

    For the most part, if you are going to develop frames you are defeating the purposeful simplicity of a TBH, might as well stick with a langstroth or other national standard langstroth type hive you might have.

    >Screened bottoms are also becoming quite popular. How much cheaper it is to screen the underside of a top bar hive !<

    Probably not much unless steele screening is significantly cheaper than wood. I think screened bottom boards can be quite useful though. Again though if you are building a TBH, you are defeating the purpose of simplicity. With a Lang, you can just buy ready made Screened Bottom Boards.

    >As far as top ventilation goes, I suppose any little crack between tops bars provides for that.<

    The bees will quickly fill in the cracks with propolis and wax. Top Ventilation is important during cold winter months to let off humidity buildup. I am not sure this is going to be important in guatamala unless you are up high in the mountains.

    >About colony manipulation: do you apply the same management criteria for top bar hives, regarding the re-accomodation of combs in the brood chamber? Or do you let bees do their own design ?<

    Its not at all the same keeping bees in TBHs. You can't just willy nilly move frames around at your pleasure. They bees do develop a nest structure that you must try to maintain with as little disturbance to the structure as possible. When you wish to make changes to the brood nest you do it a tiny little bit at a time. The 1st year you let them do what they want, and the subsequent years you might add one or two bars into the center of the brood nest EARLY spring do enlarge the brood nest for subsequent years. Otherwise you pretty much leave them alone. If you don't like a particular brood comb, you can cull and replace it with an empty bar at the right part of the season.

    >yields<
    Well I don't know where your figures come from, even if from the top of your head. In guatamala I would believe you have quite long and quite volumous honey seasons. In a lang you could easily produce anywhere between 100 to several 100s of Lbs of surplus honey each year.
    My first year TBHs in Florida USA produced and average minimum of $150 Lbs. That's pretty phenomenal for any hive in its first year.

    >The cost of the hive is at this point irrelevant, because the investment must be divided by the number of years the equipment will be serviceable.<

    Depending on your sources, lumber for hives can be quite cheap. TBHs can be built for next to nothing, OR you can spend as much as a langstroth if you desire. The economic benefits are longer term over langs as well, because the recurring keep up of the operation is reduced. Hives that are taken care of can last much longer than langs. There are no hoffman frames to replace. All you have to do is protect the outside from the elements and it can last far longer than langs. Langs when they begin to rot, rot at the dovetail corners and usually at the tops and bottoms where the boxes come together usually. Langs are by their nature consumable because when we tear down and rebuild boxes of hive bodies we are working toward destroying them. TBHs on the other hand are not so disassembled, they remain as a single hive body that is never taken apart. The only things removed are the top bars and if one has the patience one doesn't need to use tools to free the bars when the get glued down by the bees. I use a pocket knife as a tools to just work the bars apart, so I guess I take the middle road there, but I never damage the hive body or put leveraging pressures on it.


    >I guess depth is in fact limited by the bottom of the hive. I´ve seen some impressive pictures of natural comb on TBHs a few minutes ago, and I guess a triangle shape would in fact limit comb shape. It looks more like elyptical, so perhaps a bent piece of thin lumber (veneer) or bamboo will mimic natural shape better.<

    A trapazoid shape is easier to manage usually and mimics the ellipse of the comb very well in practice. The sides of my hives are 28.5 - 30 degrees and the bees attach so little so that I don't require cutting the attachments first, except with heavy and virgin honey stores one must still take great care. Honey combs that have matured just a couple of months are several magnitudes stronger than virgin combs. My honey combs that stayed in the hives for more that 2 or 3 months I am certain can withstand a visit in a redial extractor. Older I am even more certain. I do not extract though, I crush and strain or do cut comb. I save the wax and make candles for home use, though when my operation grows I may find that is just too much wax to use and will have to find an outlet for it.


    ------------------
    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/

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