I was intrigued by an idea I found on the web at
The Jacksons, in So. Africa, use dowels to make sides and bottoms on their top bars, and call them Jackson Top Bars (JTBs). A 3/4" dowel runs down the sides, and a 1/4" dowel connects across the bottom. Obviously, this is harder if you have sloped sides on your hive, but I don't. For the most part, I haven't bothered with JTBs, but I built a few to try them out. So far the bees are attaching the comb nicely to the dowel on the side of the hive where they are building comb. The other side is still open because they were a package just installed the 1st week of May. I wondered if anybody has tried this variant? Assuming not too many have, here are my early thoughts:
- dowels are expensive enough to significantly raise my cost for making frames.
- It's easy to make full frames with dowels - just drill (best with a drill press) and glue.
- I didn't bother with putting the dowels a beespace away from the side of the hive because I figured the dowel will lend strength to the comb even if there is comb between the sides and the dowel, and worse case is I'll have to cut away attachments from the sides which I'd have to do anyway.
- I also made some with the small dowel bottom piece and some without, again figuring the sides will add strength even without the bottom piece.
- I only used these in the brood area where I'll be moving combs and checking them over and over.
Maybe I'll make more if I ever have trouble with comb falling, but...
Next time I check the hive, I'll try to remember to take some photos.