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  1. #1
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    Sep 2004
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    Oregon
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    Post

    From my understanding, top bar frames are, after they are drawn out, just fit in on top and are spaced by the size of wood each frame is. from what it sounds like also, a flattened piece of wax is squashed into a groove that is cut into the center of each frame to give the bees a sense of direction.

    what is wrong with what i said? and where can i find detailed accurate pictures or diagrams on 'putting foundation into top bar frames'? because id figure it wouldnt have a hard plastic center, because they are commonly used for wax production and good comb honey.

    anyways,

    thanks for reading ;-D

    jalal

  2. #2
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    Nov 2003
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    McMinnville, TN, USA
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    Post

    There are no frames just pieces of wood on the top with either a point or starter wax and a few other methods of getting the bees to draw straight combs. Topbarguy has a web site that has alot of pics.

  3. #3
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    Aug 2003
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    Hirschbach, Bavaria, Germany
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    Post

    There is nothing wrong with what you said except it is the basic idea. Here are some links they are all great IMO the last one is the most informative it is Topbar guy's. He is collecting data on natural cell size and it's roll aginst Varroa. WARNING once you start down this road it is more addicting than crack! Check it out, have fun!
    http://home.att.net/~mcdonald/bees/hive/crowder/
    http://home.comcast.net/~beekeeper23/TBH.htm
    http://home.comcast.net/~beekeeper23/TBH.htm
    http://www.ccdemo.info/GardenBees/CK...struction.html
    http://www.gsu.edu/~biojdsx/main.htm
    http://outdoorplace.org/beekeeping/kenya.htm
    http://www.trianglebees.cjb.net/SuperHive.html
    http://wind.prohosting.com/tbhguy



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

    Gary

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    McMinnville, TN, USA
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    Post

    I get the best of both worlds by using foundationless frames in standard equipment. Foundationless frames use the pointed top bar as some TBHs top bars do. Another easy way is to just use starter strips of foundation in standard frames. But the TBHs are cheaper to make and take less skill and tools to make but they lack honey production and interchangablity.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
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    North Alabama, SW Kentucky
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    Post

    Here is a link to one guy's discription of the foundationless frame that Hillbilly is refering to. There is a drawing that makes it simple to understand. I have been interested in using this technique After I get my bees regressed to drawing small-cell sized comb. So I have asked these keepers here and on other websites about the need and technique of wiring foundationless frames. If it is a concern for you, too, some have mentioned that they don't waste time wiring frames; they are just cautious on how they use the extractor. Others wire and have success with the bees encorporating the wires into the wax.

    One benefit that I can see with them is reduced investment costs by avoiding foundation. There there are the benefits of allowing the bees to size things as they want them. And of interest to me is that, as the bees draw things themself, cut-comb may be a possibility when the bees are inclined to produce a thin midrib.

    The link: http://www.charlesmartinsimon.com/frameinstructions.htm

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Hirschbach, Bavaria, Germany
    Posts
    643

    Exclamation

    The idea with topbar hives is to simulate as close as possible natural conditions. This cannot be done with 4 sided frames because you are still limiting the depth of the comb. Embossed foundation is also a no no because you WANT the bees to build thier own cell sizes. IMO either you want to have hives that are varroa resistant, do not need any chemicles and are much less labor intensive. OR you want to manage every aspect of the hive operations with manipulations and chemicles.
    There is a trade off, honey production is not as high in a topbar hive. Lets look at some of the advantages.
    1. Allowing bees to build smaller cell sizes in the brood nest is a natural deterrent to varroa.
    2. Less expense, no chemicles and cheaper to build AND if you build them all the same they ARE interchangeable!
    3. NO heavy lifting
    4. You are breeding bees to survive on thier own! Remember it was mans interference in the first place that almost made bees extinct not varroa.

    Topbar hives were not an invention to combat varroa. They were built by people who could not afford modern equipment. Necessity was the mother of invention. If they wanted the bees to stay it was a good idea to make them a place to build thier nest the way they want, then leave Mother Nature alone and the bees managed thier enemies by themselves

    Leave Mother Nature alone and let her do all the work (WHAT A CONCEPT)!

    As far as the production issue the fact that topbar hives aer less labor intensive means I can have more or I can enjoy watching longer.

    How do you want to spend your time?

    If anyone out there can find more cons with topbar hive please reply because so far I have not.

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

    Gary

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Oregon
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    Post

    sounds like ill be doing some top bar hives this next year. atleast a couple. so for starters however, the frame specs, how wide should they be? how big should the slit be which ill shove flattened wax into? id imagine i should melt a bit of wax so itll stick better in the slit. also, how deep should the slit be?

    recap:

    frames: how wide?, how wide should the slits be? how deep would you suggest? how thick should the flattened wax be?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
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    North Alabama, SW Kentucky
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    Post

    MIKI,
    This isn't to argue against your points. They were all well made. However, there are other "ideas" with topbar hives (TBH) than just to simulate natural conditions. That is a Good purpose. But as you went on to mention, there are also reasons to use a TBH, such as low investment capital and "no heavy lifting". Some have argued wheither a horizontally arranged hive is more similar to natural conditions, and no settlement was reached that I recall. Again, I am not debating which system is "better", just pointing that there are other reasons (and good ones) that the one idea that was mentioned.

    And it seems to me that the depth of the comb is going to be limited by the deminsions of the TBH unless it is super deep.

    You asked for more cons with TBH:
    Many have been debating the demisions of what works. Bracing often comes up in discussions. heavy combs that break off or melt off are often mentioned.

    Other benefits:
    The ability to keep areas of the hive that you are not working closed. (many people have claimed that they can work more aggresive bees this way).

    jalal,
    For top bars, I don't use the "slit" that you mention. Instead, i use a wedge of wood (a "V" pointing down) and just rub it with a block of hard beeswax. The bees have built well for me. As for width/ spacing, there is some discussion that smaller bees that MIKI refered to build better when the centers of the bars are closer together. But the others here may have to answer that for you.

    To all:
    regarding foundationless frames that HillBilly mentioned, I see them as a way to get many of the benefits of TBH keeping without reinventing the system. by that I mean, a number of the pros of TBH can be kept while some of the cons can be illiminated. I realized this when I saw a number of TBH keepers working hard to invent ways to support and reinforce their combs with fancy bows of wood, arch-shaped hives, support rods suspended from the top bars, etc...


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
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    Hirschbach, Bavaria, Germany
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    Post

    Wayacoyote,
    I agree 100% with you, being that one of my strong concernes is the environment I tend to look at things from that point of view. Bracing and comb failure are two problems that are going to give us much to work at. The light I see at the end of the tunnel is that bees in the wild manage to build deep enough comb that does not fail and on top of that manage varroa themselves. I think that we just don't have the design of the hive quite right. What makes me say this. Look at the way the bees curve the ends of the comb toward the front of the hive and look at the picture of the hive in the wall on the mian page of this site.
    We tend to like strait perfect comb yet nothing in nature is perfectly strait. I would venture to say that the curve definatly has to be what the bees build in the absence of a place to brace. Maybe we need to allow for this curve. Only experments will tell and I consider this the fun part. Next season I want to make a hive that does not have any bars in the front half just a square sheet of wood rubbed with wax and see what they build. I also want to try to make supers, haven't even started to think about design yet.
    My hives are all 16 inches deep at the middle and 22.5 degree angles, I do have brace comb only toward the end of the season but did not have any failures I also did not treat with anything. Next season should be a real learning experience.



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

    Gary

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    McMinnville, TN, USA
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    Post

    Quote:Look at the way the bees curve the ends of the comb toward the front of the hive and look at the picture of the hive in the wall on the mian page of this site.
    We tend to like strait perfect comb yet nothing in nature is perfectly strait.

    I did a few bee removales this year. 2 of them had perfectly straight combs. Bees are very picky about using all the space available. The 2 I am speaking of were both in a full 2X4 wall as it was built 100 years ago. The space was 4 inches from outside wall to inside wall and about 2 feet wide and 4 foot deep on one and the other was 18 inches wide and 7 feet long. The long one build its combs from inside wall to outside wall. They were only 4 inches wide and very deep but straight. The 2 foot wide one had 3 combs deep with the back side of the third(next to inside wall) only about half depth which seemed to only be used for honey storage. This colony was easy to cut and place the comb into frames. The other 2 removals had one with slight curved combs and the other an alright mess of directions.

    I get the small cell(I rather call it natural cell as that is what these are) from using my foundationless frames. I can extract it in an extractor as long as I am real easy with it. No I do not wire it. The bees regressed themselves by the second adding of frames to the splits. I still have low cost as I make everything myself from construction scraps. Except for the bees being able to come at me more and the issue of lifting supers off to get to the brood nest, I have all the benafits of a lang as everything will interchange with a medium lang.
    I tried to make a split into a TBH this year and I saw the queen after she emerged. The queen disapeared(think she was lost during mating flight). So I combined them back with another hive. I have 2 made so I hope to see how I like a TBH over my foundationless.
    And just using a starter strip does give you about the same effect of a foundationless frame or TBH. My bees seem to always start cell size about 5.6 and slowly get smaller all the way down to 4.5. Small cell drones are about 5.6-5.8 in size. So starting them on 5.4 would actually reduce the number of drones.

    edited to add: My frames are even simpler than that link. Mine have a straight bottom bar(flat). My end bars are straight. I use 2 screws in the Z pattern for spacing(looking for a bit of improvement on this). I have a few set for 1 1/4 spacing as to incourage more smaller cells and get an 11 frame in the brood box. It will be easy to adjust the depth of frames by screwing the screw in tighter or backing it out a bit.

    [This message has been edited by Hillbillynursery (edited November 06, 2004).]

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Hirschbach, Bavaria, Germany
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    Post

    In the wall was the comb attached on both sides if so then I can see why it would be strait? They curve the ends in all mine but the bars are all 24 inches long.
    I have 2 military foot lockers I am going to cut the bottom out of one and use it for a super and the other will be a brood box I want to try a long Lang style hive with topbars. I a trying to post some pics on the bee blog that was started on this site last month but I am having problems with it. I purchased a URL and hope to have my site up before next Christmas (trying to find time). Lets compare notes and see where it goes.
    Off the topic Wayacoyote I noticed you are in Alabama I was stationed at Ft Rucker years back it's near Daleville, Enterprise, and Ozark or 1/2 hr from Dothan are you familiar with the area I fell in love with it being from NJ.

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

    Gary

    [This message has been edited by MIKI (edited November 07, 2004).]

  12. #12
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    Nov 2003
    Location
    McMinnville, TN, USA
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    Post

    The 4 inch wide and very long ones were attached to both front and back walls. the wide ones were for about 6 inches down then had the slope.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Hookstown PA USA
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    581

    Post

    I think one of the biggest cons for TBHs is the fact you have to buil it. Now maybe this is a pro for some folks but if you are a busy person this can be hard.

    Another con is unless you preplan you can't go to a neighbor and borrow frames or comb or anything.

    I don't think these are big deals but they do require thought.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Post

    That's why I tried a Lanstroth deep for a TBH, but had a comb collapse. The medium depth lanstroth dimensions are working well.

    I can pull a medium frame from a regular hive and put in it without any problems.

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