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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Guatemala
    Posts
    244

    Post

    please advise me on the best method to obtain wax from top bar hives. I am buildiing one tomorrow in a rural village in Guatemala, hoping to make a more efficient wax factory than the Langstroths used here.
    Wax is becoming very expensive and beekeepers just shouldn´t have to buy wax if they can produce it to make new foundation for new colonies.
    Specifically, just what combs and when can they be pulled out? My intention is to heavily feed the bees throughout the rainy season hoping they will build comb.
    Is it possible to continously cull the combs they build once they have achieved a proper nest size?
    How much wax can realistically be expected?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,553

    Post

    You could steal combs constantly, crush them and drain them and refeed the honey/syrup or whatever you've been feeding them. I don't know how much you would get.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Guatemala
    Posts
    244

    Post

    Thank you sir for replying.
    In Guatemala, beekeeping goes considerably different from that in the US. Right now it´s full bloom in most areas.

    I just returned from a field trip to a rural community, where my job was to figure out how to best use an $ 8,000 loan from the government, destined to increase the number of colonies in existing apiaries. The cost of wax foundation to start new colonies (30 sheets) is so high that I suggested they inmediately get some TBHs established to produce wax. I built one for them in their shop, and they got all excited to see it work. Prety soon I´ll learn how to pin photos to this thread so we can share.

    Beekeepers were somewhat reluctant at first, but finally they accepted the fact that a TBH may be managed differently; basically no huge populations nor honey is expected. All we want is wax, even produced under heavy feeding of sugar syrup. One technique for comb harvesting is to take brood and honey combs from the TBH and introduce them in the Langs (we made top bars 19")
    for the bees to empty them.

    Our dearth season goes from May into late October; occasional flowering may occur, but since weather is warm to hot and rainy, bees are active and can build comb even properly fed to simulate a nectar flow. When corns blooms, it´s pollen collecting time in August.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Honduras
    Posts
    229

    Post

    I answered Guatebee on this subject--but in the Spanish speaking forum. Maybe some other beekeepers from the States could give an opinion about what I mentioned.

    My idea is that if you want to use the TBH to harvest more wax to use for foundation sheets, wouldn't it be better to just use the "combs" you harvest in the frames--cut the combs and tie them into the frames (I think this is what Guatebee might have been saying in the last part of his last post)?

    I understand where Guatebee is coming from. Here in Honduras wax is expensive also and sometimes hard to find. Most rural farmers can't afford it. I've transfered many a comb from a TBH to a frame with out problems. You might only want to melt down the drone comb (or maybe use it in the supers for honey storage).

    Usually my new swarms during the flowering season fill their trap boxes with 8 to 9 combs in about two or three weeks. At this pace you could probably rob three or four combs a week to fill frames. Once they're empty of brood you could use them for the honey super. Swarms are easy to catch if you put out trap hives and in no time you can have a bunch of "comb factories".

    This is an option I myself need to explore for this year. My source of wax has fallen through. I won't have enough to make lots of foundation sheets and don't want to invest lots of money in buying it from the local beekeeping cooperative (one days work for a normal farm laborer can only buy two , maybe three, sheets and that's usually money he needs to put food on the table). Although I have just TBHs now, this year I want to start a modified TBH that uses frames.

    The other option, which Guatebee might want to explore, is to just use a starter strip in the frames and let the bees build the comb naturally--even though it might take a bit more time. I usually use just a strip of paper (5/8 to 1/2 inch wide) dipped twice into melted wax and "glued" into the top bar groove with a bit more wax. It works just fine. I don't use anything any wider because the bees were chewing it down to this width anyways before they began building the comb (why I don't know).

    But are there any disadvantages to this idea of transfering combs (like possible disease transfer--mites)? I would appreciate what ever opinion.

    --Tom

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Alpine, TX
    Posts
    104

    Post

    Tomas, when you transfer the combs from the TBHs to the Langs how do you get them to stay in the frames? Are your top bars 19" long?
    As far as disease transfer goes - if the beekeepers learn what to inspect for before they transfer the combs that might be helpful, if they can take the time to look them over carefully. I guess in Guatemala they have only AHBs also.
    I smile like this because I have no idea what I\'m doing :-)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Honduras
    Posts
    229

    Post

    Hey Jean,

    I'm not going to say my top bars are 19 inches long but they're the same size as the top bars on my frames (measurements change a bit down here). This way I can transfer the comb with the topbar temporarily into the Langstroth box if I want. I sometimes transfer the combs into a Langstroth box one day and then go back and cut/tie them into frames a couple days later. I think this puts a bit less stress on the hive.

    To do it, you cut the comb to fit snuggly into a frame without wire. I then do a couple zigzags with wire on both sides of the frame so it doesn't fall out. After the bees "glue" the comb into the frame you could probably take that wire off. I usually leave it on. It doesn't bother much if it is a brood comb. That wire bothers a bit if you are uncapping honey comb but I feel a bit better knowing there's extra support for it when spinning out the honey in the extractor.

    Also, I think you're probably right about the disease part.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    1,933

    Post

    guatebee,
    If the price of wax is high enough, would it be more profitable for your beekeeprs to use primarily top bar hives to produce wax and honey to sell. Instead of making wax to use by your local beekeepers. I guess you would have to find out how much wax and honey top bar hives produce in your area and compare its output's value with a langstroth hive's output value.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Honduras
    Posts
    229

    Post

    It seems that here in Honduras (and I think it's pretty much the same in Guatemala) the Langstroth hives always seem to have a higher honey production. But becuase of the extra wax that is harvested from crushing the combs in the TBHs, the gap in the profits starts to close. And then if you can make your own foundation and sell it to other beekeepers, the difference is even less. The price between the wax and the foundation sheet is considerable.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Honduras
    Posts
    229

    Post

    I finally melted down the comb from the last honey harvest so I sort of got some numbers to share about wax production in TBHs. We harvested approximatly 125 pounds of honey, just about all of it from new comb (minimal old comb). Only 5.5 pounds of wax came out of this.

    Anybody else have any numbers?

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