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  1. #1
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    Jan 2004
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    Where top bar hives have been filled out solidly to the wall, front to back with comb and honey for the winter, how are they managed in the Spring? The queen of course will start laying wherever she happens to be when the time comes.

    If left to their own devices the hive will be full of brood and bees. At some point the beekeeper will have to remove old comb and make way for the new honey crop.

    Discussion please?
    Ox


  2. #2
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    Hirschbach, Bavaria, Germany
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    Sounds like a great opportunity to make a split.

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

    Gary

  3. #3
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    Yes, Miki;
    But the object is honey and wax, not more bees.

    The only solution that appears to me at the moment is to pull comb as it is emptied of brood and either replace it with fresh bars or just break off the old comb and render it.

    Replacing with fresh bars would offer the opportunity to have comb for swarms or to use it for mating boxes, nucs, etc.

    Of course if we are talking pollination hives splits are the ideal solution. I have some small, 20-bar TBH's designed for this purpose.
    Ox

  4. #4
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    If you want to harvest beeswax, I wouldn't harvest empty brood comb. You'll get almost now wax from it. Take combs that have never had brood in them and you will get far more wax because the coccons soak up most of the wax in brood combs.

    If you don't have any of it that is just honeycomb (no coocoons) then, sure take it, crush it and keep it separate from the good wax without cocoons. You'll get some wax out of it and you can put a bar in and hopefully get some honeycomb.

  5. #5
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    Ox

    This is exactly the question that I have been pondering. I am designing (in my mind) a series of supers over the top of the existing TBH. Mr. Bush suggests the entrance being moved to the upper (easily done). Then you could super with conventional frames and, as he suggests, they will have to go through the super to get to the main TBH.

    So if your goal is honey, this might work. Hopefully the bees will perceive the open comb and move up. I might just use foundationless frames in at least one of the supers and see what happens. Also maybe move one or more combs up into the center of the super to put them in contact with open space more quicly.

    I have two TBH's wall to wall comb. Other one is 4 bars shy of a full house. So unless I do some splits I will hvae some issues in the spring.

    I agree that this is the time to discuss.

    David

  6. #6
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    It may be that we need to get the advice of some of the pro's who use TBH's. In the meantime, my plan is to pull empty comb, cut it to fit baby nucs and build the baby nucs for queen rearing. That begs the question; it is a one time expedient.

    Another possibility where the hive is large enough is to restrict the winter quarters with the use of a division board. Everything past the division board could be harvested and left empty until next spring. However, I have made some l6 and 20 bar hives for pollination work and these cannot be short-changed over winter.

    It will be interesting. I suspect that we will all learn a lot about beekeeping in the next couple of years.
    Ox


  7. #7
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    If you had a hive with that much comb and in the spring you could split it and be picky about the comb you used cut the rest and add the bars back. Then they re-draw them out and you have honey and clean comb (twice as much of each). In a perfect world I might add...then I dont see the problem. The supering idea seems to look good mabey a new TBH design in the works

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

    Gary

  8. #8
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    Miki:
    Using the overwintered comb for splits is one good solution, but there comes a time when you have ENOUGH bees and DON'T WANT any splits. The object then becomes keeping your hives strong, making all the wax and honey that you can without waste.

    If your top bar hive is full of brood comb you have to do something. Options? It appears that unless you need splits or comb the option is rendering. You certainly do not want to crush old comb for honey.
    Ox

  9. #9
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    I looked at some papers that were written by Marty Hardison. Heres a excerpt from one and a link to the whole thing. It does not adress exactly what to do with the comb. Maybe a look at James Satterfields site(hope I spelled that right) will help.

    “One more function can be performed when one is checking a hive in the early spring; it's called spring cleaning. The quality of the combs in a colony has a lot to do with the success of a hive. The topbar beekeeper can achieve a better environment for the bees by simply inspecting the combs in a hive each Spring and cutting off those that have become misshapen (those that are not well centered) or pollen bound, those containing too many drone cells, or ones excessively blackened by age. Taking out the worst three or four combs each spring and moving the remaining combs toward the front of the hive enhances the living space of a colony”.
    http://www.gsu.edu/~biojdsx/mh2.htm#seasonal



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

    Gary

  10. #10
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    Jun 2004
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    Hiram, Northeast Ohio
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    It seems the real question here is how to get the wax out of old brood combs, as without wanting more bees there is no other value to these combs.

  11. #11
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    Jun 2004
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    It looks like the answer to this question is a hot water press, which basically seems to amount to a cooking pot where you heat water and combs, envelop the mass in burlap, then jack down a press repeatedly against the bottom of the pot, pressing out the wax and allowing it to float up. Kind of like french press coffee. Sounds like a good winter activity.
    http://www.beesource.com/eob/beeswax.htm

  12. #12
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    Miki:

    Now you are going to town. The article by Hardison gives us some insight to the way the long-time TBH beekeepers do this.

    We can all use some comb in swarm traps, in splits, etc, but there comes a time when we need space, not more bees. The hot water press might be a good winter project. Wonder if someone has a good, cheap design using either a small hydraulic jack or a simple acme screw. Ideally the whole thing should be capable of fitting into a large pot on an outdoor burner. One would be enough for a whole bee club.
    Ox

  13. #13
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    Aug 2003
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    When two of my hives absconded I had 20 bars drawn to various sizes fo course most of it was brood comb. Just experimenting around I put it all in a pot and boiled it. 75% of the cocoons ended up under the wax I was able to scrape them off, but I still got the feeling there was a lot of wax in the ones mixed in I melted them again and strained it to get the dirt out. i will play with the welder and make a press this winter.

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

    Gary

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Boynton Beach, Florida, USA
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    Hi Guys,

    For me, one of the advantages of a tbh is the easy comb rotation. There's lots of evidence that a colony benefits from clean comb. Many of the advantages I saw from small cell, also occured when I put bees on newly drawn, large cell comb.

    With a tbh it's just zip. No rewiring, nailing, embedding, etc.

    It's interesting to note that a three year comb rotation is being recommended by many. At that rate, it should be relatively easy to maintain management space inside a tbh.

    I am quite interesting in the over wintering and spring management aspects, so will be moving a tbh to my patio. It will replace the plex hive, I've had there for years.

    I expect to learn much so will have my camera and pen ready.

    Regards
    Dennis
    Trying to figure out a plex cover for my tbh :> )

    [This message has been edited by topbarguy (edited September 17, 2004).]

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