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Thread: New topbars

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
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    Hirschbach, Bavaria, Germany
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    Hey all,
    I got the queen cage fixed and removed the other two. I went in with a full suit, but found the bees very docile this time.
    My question this time relates to hive structure, I followed some plans from a site on the internet which called for 16" sides 22.5 degrees off center. Am I going to have problems with comb failure? My hives are in the sun with flat lids.
    Gary
    My new maxim
    Procrastination is the assaination of inspiration

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Porter, Ok USA
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    491

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    Miki:
    I do not believe that comb failure is entirely a function of depth. I have not taken the time to calculate, or lay out and measure, the dimensions you gave, but the 22.5 degree angle suggests something between the l3 degree Hardison design and the 30 degree Crowder. Where you differ is the l6 inch side, and of course you did not give the bottom width. The catenary curve theorists will think that they must know bottom width to answer your question. Some of us may think that you must have an air space between the bars and your flat top.

    My own opinion is that shade and an airspace between the top and bars helps, but that the principle factor in preventing comb collapse is having the patience to leave your bees alone to build their comb and strengthen it before you start hadling it.

    Having a boss looking over your shoulder every minute is enough drive a bee to distraction. If that same fellow picks up your half-done work and puts all sorts of unwanted, unplanned stress on it the blooming thing will never hold.
    Ox

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
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    Hirschbach, Bavaria, Germany
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    Ox hi,
    Sorry the bottom inside is 10" and your right I have to force myself to leave them alone. My wife is definatly a help here, she laid down a law I have to spend an equal amount of QFT with her and the kids as I do with the hives. So far I'm very happy with the arrangement I have seen more movies and a trip to the zoo which went great untill we found out they had a honey bee display. That trip went south. enough rambling.
    I also made it 31 bars lond 1 1/2 inches wide the odd one is a follower board I have limited them to 15 bars also I suspended a quart jar with wire from the second to last bar to feed them. I have noticed a couple of ants and earwigs on top of the bars when i open it what do you suggest?
    Gary

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Boynton Beach, Florida, USA
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    Hi Gary,

    You are going to get quite a debate on this one. Very long comb exists and seldom fails in feral hives. It's when the beekeeper gets involved that failures occur.

    I experienced comb failure last year. I caused it by my bungled management. I did a little test a few weeks back. I took a couple pieces of new comb cut out of my tbh. They were about 6" long. The air temp was about 80 degrees. I layed the comb down in the sun for about 10 minutes. When I tried to pick it up, the comb collapsed. Comb inside the hive was still stiff. I had to cut it to get it loose.

    Let the bees tell you when the comb is too fragile to mess with. When they start attaching the entire comb to the hives sidewalls, it needs the extra support. They will seldom do it in the brood area. But almost all the full combs in the honey storage will be attached this way. They need the extra strength and the bees know it. Let them show you! New comb is fragile. New heavy comb is very fragile. New hot, heavy comb is a disaster if handled.

    I approach this as a management problem. I don't handle the comb when it's prone to fail. I believe that the less interference in a hive the better, especially at those critical times.

    Others have suggested that a shallower design will free them from my management limitations. But I have some concerns about a shallower design, especially in a northern climate.

    The bees will work with a horizontal focus but that shifts to a vertical focus as they prepare for winter. Tbhers will notice this shift when the bees begin to pack the broodnest with honey rather than building more comb and storing it toward the rear of the hive. The queen being pressed for laying space will scatter brood all along the bottom of every available comb. This results in a very narrow, sinous brood area.

    Eventually the bees fill the scattered brood comb toward the rear of the hive forcing the broodnest forward near the entrance.

    This same shift in focus can be seen when the bees a drawning out the broodnest. They will work horizontally for awhile and then extend the comb vertically. When given the space, the bees don't construct one long comb or lots of shallower combs but tend to make a broodnest that is longer than it is wide. It appears they maximize volume, minimize surface area and then extend the comb for some degree of vertical flexibility.

    I want a tbh hive that will give the bees maximum vertical flexibility as they prepare for winter. I have a long winter in Wyoming.

    I also have some concerns regarding the optimum shape and size of a winter cluster in a shallow design.

    The amount of small cell comb drawn in a shallower design is also a concern of mine. My bees started drawing comb that tapered to a small cell size about 6" to 8" below the top bar. I didn't find any small cell size above that.

    I want plenty of small cell comb so that I don't have to treat for mites. And I want my bees broodnest centered on it at the end of the season.

    Do bees build small cell sized comb in a shallow hive? Would a shallow hive of 8" have any small cell comb? How much small cell comb do bees build in a shallow hive and how is it arranged?

    Maybe the bees work this out in the shallow design, but maybe there is a survival advantage to taller comb. There is some evidence that this survival advantage exists. All the accounts of long term surviving feral hives I know of had long comb. Some of it was very long, over 6' tall.

    Wyatt Mangum has stated that he must treat his hives for mites for them to survive and he has very shallow top bar hives. Could comb heigth be a factor? I suspect it might be.

    Any shallow hive tbhers want to do some comb measuring or take some scaled photos of each comb? If you are interested, I will do the math like I did on my first tbh. Just let me know and I will correspond privately with you concering the details.

    Regards
    Dennis


    [This message has been edited by topbarguy (edited June 27, 2004).]

  5. #5

    Post

    Okankle worte:
    > ...principle factor in preventing comb collapse is having the patience to leave your bees alone...
    --
    I have to disagree this is a "principle" cause. Last summer was when I had comb failure here in Texas, I wasn't even at home for an extended period of time and being the only beekeeper in the family, I'm quite sure no one else opened the hive to have a "look see".

    When I departed the country, the comb was looking great and I felt very comfortable in thinking everything was well on it's way with my TBH. By the time I returned and had a chance to open the hive approximately eight weeks had elasped and I found five very large and beautifully drawn combs, collapsed and laying in a semi-upright position at the bottom of the TBH (just the way they had fallen). It was obvious the suspended weight in the freshely drawn and otherwise unsupported comb was the reason the wax failed (not due to mishandling or anyone's excessive handling).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Hirschbach, Bavaria, Germany
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    Hi all,
    Thanks for all the pointers I guess we will just have to see on is in the sun, one is half/half and the last is in the shade.


    I hane a couple of problems:
    1, Ants and earwigs on the top of the bars when i open them an dthe ants are inside after the feeders. The hives are on cinder blockes. I plan to weld some re-bar stands and greese the legs.

    2. Is a hive being robbed if the guards are tugging at a bee or two trying to push it off the landing board. Also there were several bees in the grass in front of the hive that looked like they were having trouble flying. The activity in the air around this hive was twice that of our other two.

    3. Am I just being paranoid!
    Gary

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,925

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    >1, Ants and earwigs on the top of the bars when i open them an dthe ants are inside after the feeders. The hives are on cinder blockes. I plan to weld some re-bar stands and greese the legs.

    I have a lot of small ants with their larvae that hide between the cracks of the bars or under the lid. They never seem to hurt anything and I just leave them alone.

    In some climates ants can be a problem (so they tell me). I don't worry about them until the carpenter ants start eating the hive bodies.

    >2. Is a hive being robbed if the guards are tugging at a bee or two trying to push it off the landing board. Also there were several bees in the grass in front of the hive that looked like they were having trouble flying. The activity in the air around this hive was twice that of our other two.

    Yes, they are being robbed. Reduce the entrance. Maybe even close it up after dark tonight and don't open it until tommorow afternoon.

    >3. Am I just being paranoid!

    No you're not. (well maybe about the ants and earwigs)...


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
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    Sometimes because a couple of bees are being tugged doesn't mean the hive is being robbed for certain. Sometimes I have seen the bees pulling on a sick girl loose her, and grab a death grip on the nearest bee and pull them away.

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

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Berkey, OH, USA
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    &lt;Any shallow hive tbhers want to do some comb measuring or take some scaled photos of each comb? If you are interested, I will do the math like I did on my first tbh. Just let me know and I will correspond privately with you concering the details.

    Dennis
    I am not sure of your definition of shallow TBH. My shallowest is 9 1/4 inches deep with a 7 inch bottom width and 17 inch top bar length. cut at 60 degree angle (30 d.?) other 60 degree is 12 inches deep and 16 1/2 inch top bar. both of these have no side attachments as of last week.

    3rd one is cut at 75 degrees (25deg) and is 15 inch at top bar and 12 1/2 deep. It does have side attachments. After reading your post I regret having cut it free. May be more likely to collapse now. Too hot though to mess with it. Thanks for the interesting post. If I qualify as shallow I will be glad to take pics and forward for review.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Hirschbach, Bavaria, Germany
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    Hey all,
    Mine all measure 16 inches from the bottom of the hive to teh bottom of the bars, bar length is 24 inches and 10 across the inside bottom. I think this qualifies as deep. So far no side attachments. #2 is in half shade and half sun, I started them with 15 bars, yesterday I added 4 more they were getting ready build coomb on the feeder.
    Gary

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Boynton Beach, Florida, USA
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    Hi David,

    Thanks for the offer. I would like to see some shots taken through the broodnest.

    When you shoot them, include a metric ruler on the face of the comb or top bar. Keep the camera as square and centered with the comb as possible to reduce any distortion. It helps to brush most of the bees from the comb. Only one side of each comb needs to be photographed. Keep the photos in sequence so I can reconstruct the broodnest from them.

    Use a high resolution on your digital camera. 1600x1200 would work great.

    My poor email box has a 10mb limit so, the shots will have to be sent over a few days.

    Man, that's alot of requirements! Are you still interested?

    Regards
    Dennis

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Berkey, OH, USA
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    Sure
    I will try to get my wife to help, she is the photographer. Give me a couple of weeks...
    dz

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