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  1. #1
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    Question

    this would be in comparison with "normal" langstroth beekeeping. i guess the norm is vertical, using foundation and giving the comb back after extaction. wich of thease three variables makes the differance or is it other variables or a combination? also taking "you can either raise bees or honey" as a given, any thoughts on wich system produces more bees?
    all that is gold does not glitter

  2. #2
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    The theory, as I understand it, is that when you harvest the wax from a TBH the bees have to make more wax, using up nectar or honey that would otherwise be stored. In other words, harvesting from a TBH the bees need to use more energy to make wax.

  3. #3
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    It takes a bit more managment in a long hive because you have to pull combs, not supers, to harvest and you have to do it often in a flow to keep room for more harvest. You also have to open up the brood nest with bars in the brood nest and it seems like I have to do that more often too.

    Then there is the wax issue.

    But all it all I think you make more honey for that acutal physical labor involved.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
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    For me, the physical labor aspect is really important right now. It seems every time I try to do heavy work I through out my back. This has made tbh's very attractive. In addition, my curiosity is almost satisfied by the ease with which I can open the box and see what is happening inside. I have had to limit myself to once a week or I found myself opening the boxes daily.

  5. #5
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    You don't necessarily get more honey with a lang, but its easier to manage a lang to produce more honey than an unmanaged lang. TBHs can be coaxed the same way to produce more honey, but its something you need to attend to more often than in a lang. I get a LOT of honey out of my TBHs, a lot more than I would have expected, but never the less I can't keep up with the honey harvesting.
    Scot Mc Pherson<br />McPherson Family Honey Farms<br />Davenport, IA<br />BeeWiki: <a href=\"http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org\" target=\"_blank\">http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org</a> <br /><br />Pics:<br /> <a href=\"http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/\" target=\"_blank\">http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/</a>

  6. #6
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    Scott explained it well. It takes more small steps to manage the TBH. It takes more throwing supers on to manage the Lang.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
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    Hi Guys,

    Now for my take on this issue :&gt))

    &gt;TBH the bees have to make more wax, using up nectar or honey that would otherwise be stored...

    I've run comparable sized tbh and Langs side by side. And I don't think it takes much effort or material for the bees to make beeswax. In fact, my tbhs, without drawn comb, easily kept up with my Langs with there drawn comb. Both in brood and honey production.

    The honey to wax conversion figures are based upon honey versus wax production figures from beekeepers honey houses and not the bees. The ratios I've seen were based on the lbs of honey shipped versus the lbs of wax shipped by the beekeeper and not on an actual conversion by the bees themselves. No kidding!!!!

    The type of flow is a more important factor. If the flow is very short in duration and very intense, a hive with open comb can store more unripe nectar. And will continue to process it after the flow is over. A hive without combs is at a decided disadvantage in this situation. Western alfalfa produces such a flow.

    If a flow is more moderate in intensity and duration, like a clover flow, then a tbh isn't at much of a disadvantage.

    The real difference occurs when the bees switch from a horizontal orientation to a vertical one. At these times, the bees will attempt to fill the broodnest comb ABOVE the broodnest core. And extra horizontal space has little effect on that behavior.

    Under these conditions, shuffling tbh broodnest has an impact on increasing production. But it produces nowhere near the impact that adding more vertical space/supers does, like in a Lang hive.

    I've tested these observations out in my combo(long) hive. At some point my tbhs will produce about 2 supers of honey. My supered combo hive will produce about 7 supers. And my standard Langs will produce about 4 supers. I think the combo hive does better because there is more available open comb immediately above the broodnest when compared to a supered up Lang. At some point, the extra vertical space, at a farther distance from the broodnest, doesn't have the same effect stimulating effect.

    &gt;You don't necessarily get more honey with a lang...

    I don't know much about tropical flows but will know more in a couple of years. In the mean time Scot will be learning more about temperate flows. It will be interesting to compare notes. Best regards on your relocation, Scot!

    A common comparison might be hive versus hive. But there are some better comparisons like cost/lb or hours/lb or profit/hive, joy/lb, pain/hive :&gt))

    These might yield more useful information than lbs/hive. yet, I doubth that the hive/lb standard will change anytime soon. What would all those double queen beekeepers do with those sticks and step ladders, etc. Four supers long times two just isn't the same as eight supers high. I think it must be the adrenaline one gets from removing deep supers while standing on a step ladder, in the back of a pickup truck :&gt))

    Regards
    Dennis
    I once wrangled bees. But now, knowing better, I just let them bee. It's only natural.
    http://talkingstick.me/bees/

  8. #8
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    Dennis,
    Well I agree some and disagree some. One of the things you can do (which the bees tend to do anyway as you sort of pointed out), is that they will stick to the bottom of the combs and lengthen the brood nest. This is one of the management issues I have been learning about and dealing with. I have been inityally trying to coax the bees to stay higher on the combs so more honey can be harvested, but since they like to have honey above, they generally once a flow is on, do nothing except build honey storage even in the middle of the brood nest when and empty top bar is placed. They will switch to brood comb very near the bottom sometimes only 1 inch of broood at the bottom. I have since pretty much stopped trying to coax deep brood combs from them, let them have their way with brood nest structure (its smaller anyway usually), and therefore am sacrificing honey for a little while while they develop stores above the nest. I dont' think this is bad, but it is an investment in a sellable product which I will not be able to sell. In the end I think I have been shown that I will need a longer hive if I want to get as much honey from a single harvest unless I want to do weekly or bi-weekly harvests of capped combs to maintain space for more.

    Thanx for the regardss for our move. Its interesting because I still don't know whether I am selling my bees and starting over (with more capital because of sale), or moving the bees with me. If anyone in florida is interested in buying mature colonys in TBHs, just let me know.
    Scot Mc Pherson<br />McPherson Family Honey Farms<br />Davenport, IA<br />BeeWiki: <a href=\"http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org\" target=\"_blank\">http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org</a> <br /><br />Pics:<br /> <a href=\"http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/\" target=\"_blank\">http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/</a>

  9. #9
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    Hi Scot,

    It's been quite interesting exchanging ideas about the natural behavior seen in our tbhs. What we've both seen has been quite consistent, yet our ideas about management are different. I think the different seasonal dynamics between Wyoming and Florida account for most of it.

    Over the last few years, I've been selling and giving away most of my beekeeping stuff. I'm down to just a couple of tbhs and a half dozen Langs which I will probably liquidate, next year, before moving to Florida the following year.

    I just haven't found any easy way to consistently expand the broodnest core in a tbh. It seems the bees know when it's large enough and aren't easily tricked into building a larger broodnest core. As you noted, they will trail it out at the bottom of the honey storage combs behind the broodnest area. That behavior is more predominate in a shallower tbh, but is still seen in a deeper one as well.

    I think is has to do with a repeating structure I've seen in the honey storage area but haven't mentioned until now. In a horizontal hive, the repeating unit will occupy about half the volume or number of top bars as the original broodnest. The front of it consists of a couple of storage combs consisting of storage and a little drone comb. Then, the rate of change in cell sizes will mirror the rear half of the broodnest. The actual cell sizes will be much larger, but the amount and rate of change will be just about the same. If additional space is available, the pattern is repeated again. It's very easy to see in long, shallow tbhs.

    The actual pattern is very hard to see in the comb itself, as the organization and actual cell size location, in the honey storage area, is very chaotic and not consistent from comb to comb. But when the combs are measured and the summary results are plotted, this pattern is obvious. The rate of change, in the amounts of the different cell sizes, mirrors the rate of change in the rear half of the broodnest core, except the cell sizes are much larger.

    Another way to think about it is like this: In the honey storage area, storage cell size replace drone cell sizes, drone cell size replace the larger worker cell sizes, and large worker cell size replace the small cell sizes seen in the broodnest. The left-right comb orientation, seen in the broodnest is lost. And the comb tends to consists of patches of different cell size. But the larger cells are generally found at the top of each comb and the worker cell sizes at the bottom.

    Take a look at the bar graphs at: http://bwrangler.com/bee/scom.htm

    This season, I tried an interesting experiment. One of my tbhs failed due to queen problems. So I took the broodnest core comb and placed it behind the original broodnest in another tbh. That provided twice the broodnest volume compared to what the bees bees would normally construct.

    How's that for easily expanding a tbh broodnest :&gt))

    Would the bees operate within the original broodnest core volume and treat the additional broodnest comb as honey storage? Or would they treat the expanded broodnest as a very large broodnest?

    Preliminary results indicate they choose the latter. Those behaviors associated with just the broodnest core, occured on all those additional combs. I will report more later.

    Regards
    Dennis
    Last edited by BWrangler; 11-01-2007 at 12:34 PM.
    I once wrangled bees. But now, knowing better, I just let them bee. It's only natural.
    http://talkingstick.me/bees/

  10. #10
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    This touches on something I noted before when Dee was talking about using small cell comb build for honey stores into brood area if right size. I think there is more to the language of comb building that just size and housel positioning. I think brood combs are built as brood combs regardless of what the size is. It was one thing I touched upon on the organics list where beekeeper economy/efficiency overrulled what I thought was significant. Seems if you have 100s or 1000s of hives, you can't be worrying about where the comb was built so long as the cells look nice. I believe otherwise, but I let it drop.

    I felt that its important for natural and small cell users to allow their bees to build brood comb within the brood nest. I still feel so. I think there is more to it than simple size.
    Scot Mc Pherson<br />McPherson Family Honey Farms<br />Davenport, IA<br />BeeWiki: <a href=\"http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org\" target=\"_blank\">http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org</a> <br /><br />Pics:<br /> <a href=\"http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/\" target=\"_blank\">http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/</a>

  11. #11
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    Dennis, Scott and all,
    Great discussion. Assuming that you do want to increase the size of the broodnest, what about "broodnest supering"?

    Basically you would move up the middle bars (the broodnest bars) with the broodnest to a super above the existing hive, replacing with empty top bars. Hopefully they would then build small cell broodcomb underneath?

    Or maybe do not replace the bars below, and leave it open!

    Dennis I agree with you and your studies that the cell size changes on each top bar comb, wiht the larger honey storage cells at the top and the brood in the middle.

    My beeinspector taught me that the natural shape of the hive is the skep shape. If this is true, by supering up in the middle you are getting closer to the skep shape. By moving the brood nest up (instead of just adding empty bars above) you are expanding the brood nest rather than the honey storage area?

  12. #12
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    I don't know what your bee inspector meant. That statement is highly interpretive. Does he mean natural as in made of natural materials or what? The way I choose to interpret it is as an inverted skep which is the general shape of my TBHs from one plane. Mine are trapaziodal, more slope in the walls than many people like to use, but it works very very well to limit attachment and I think mimicks the comb shape as best as possible while not using curved sides.

    But to get on with it, if you are going to super the TBH, than what really is the point of using a TBH at all? I mean the idea is to remain simple and provide a way to work the hives without exposing a lot of bees and not having to lift supers. Well if you are going to super, i'd go ahead and stick with Langs. But that's my take. Langs are much better suited for supering and designed for it with the hoffman style frames and such. You get yourself into ventilation issues and I can think of hundreds of other potential problems that you can curtail by either not supering or by sticking with langs. Increasing the size of the brood nest is simple. Each spring just as spring build-up get starting, spread your brood nest accordian style with fresh empty topbars. The combs will be brood combs since that's what the bee's focus is at the moment. Its when you wait until later that opening t5he brood nest in a foundationless system is a crap shoot, you could get a little of this a little of that....

    I don't see the same thing as dennis really. I see my smallest cells mostly on the bottom and I have never seen honey on the bottom of the brood nest, though I have seen some drone cells.

    Also, bees build from the top down, not the bottom up. They "might" if in a giant cavity start somewhere in the middle if the entrance is too far away from teh top of the cavity, but that's more often just a matter of them identifying the enstrance to the location of the nest, and not the top. Bees always start at the top and move down. Same with mature hives.

    Bees swarm and build new colony. Comb starts at top, gets laid up once or twice, and edges get sampling of honey nectar they are able to get. Cluster gets little bigger and builds more comb, brooding gets bigger and top raws of comb get filled with honey. cluster keeps getting bigger and bees build more comb to support more brooding until brood max is reached by queen. They fill top of brood nest while combs continue to be built downwards with supports here and there as needed. Bees finally get ready to bed down for winter and fill up brood nest with honey (whether and how much depends on geography and breed of bee), and they cluster in, eating honey working way towards top of hive. Sometimes they get to top sometimes they have more then they know what to do with. Brooding starts up right where cluster is, and again they work down down down. This time they don't have to build comb, OR store honey on edges, they already have stores AND room to put it already. SO the cluster's usually build up VERY fast compared to new installations. So down they work again, and if the colony is very successfull, they run out of room VERY early in season and instinct tells them to swarm because they can. And a colony that remains feral in this state and can remain healthy is likely to issue multiple swarms every single year. Its what successful bees do. They make more.

    Anyways, thats my take on brood development and why combs are the way they are. Its why ULBN management works so well because it allows the beekeeper to emmulate natural feral hives in teh most economical and comfortable shape for the bees to live in. TBHs do something similar but in a horizontal fashion, because of this TBHs require a little more management, ESPECIALLY when one is getting used to managing TBHs. Once one gets the hang of it, really only new installations need all the hands on work, the mature hives just need a little hand here and there as the beekeeper feels necessary. I like to expand brood nest out until the hives are so productive I have to play catch up to keep the hives vacant enough of honey stores. My prefered brood nest size in my hives is 7-15 bars of brood. Depending on how the bees use the comb, this is about 1.5 deeps worth of brood. All my brood nest combs have 1-2 inches of honey at the top except for the staging combs which the bees keep "wet honey" in near the front entrance. This is the honey that never gets capped and is always peppered with pollen and maybe a drone cell or few. The honey at the top of the nest tapers downwards once the brood nest core has been reached for about 3-5 frames until there is only 1 inch of brood on the inside side of the comb and then its pure honey stores from there. This is about comb #15-#20 in most cases for me. I don't care too much about how "well" they build the comb after this, I can't get in the hives more frequently than once a month once they have matured anyway, and at that time I am usually harvesting the honey so looks don't matter for me in the honey storage area. I got tired of trying to keep honey stores straight, especially when its easy to just shake the darned bees of and cut the comb out into my collection tubs.

    I harvested another 5 gallons or so yesterday from one hive that I had already harvested from after the citrus and clover flows ended. Golly, that's a lot.
    Scot Mc Pherson<br />McPherson Family Honey Farms<br />Davenport, IA<br />BeeWiki: <a href=\"http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org\" target=\"_blank\">http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org</a> <br /><br />Pics:<br /> <a href=\"http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/\" target=\"_blank\">http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/</a>

  13. #13
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    Scotty
    I was suggesting the "super" for purposes of increasing brood nest size, not honey production.

    What I see is a cap of honey across the top of my brood comb, tapering off just as you describe. This is what my inspector said, you will have a cap of honey that will be like the shape of a skep, and the brood will be under the honey cap. And that is what I see in my langs and tbh.

    And the bees do seem to build the brood nest comb in the middle, except, as y ou point out, the drone comb which is at the bottom.

    So if you are trying to have a larger brood nest, then my thought was to try to encourage a larger comb so that the brood nest would be larger, with more small cell. This would also be a benefit to those in harsher climates I think because the cluster would be more focused.

    So in my mind there would be a large middle comb that would extend down into the main hive, like a pyramid. You could service / harvest your honey comb from the sides of the tbh.

    I intend to build one this winter and will share the pics and results.

    Scot congrats on your harvest!

  14. #14
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    I think a single giant comb like that is pretty dangerous. Its prone to collapse unless you leave it alone with its attachments, and you can't really do that can you? You must be able to remove the comb, you can't view it from the side for an inspection.

    Again the point of the tbh is to avoid supering whether brood supering or honey supering. If you are going to do that, then I think one should stick with a lang. I don't think I agree with all your assessments of how the bees will react to it for winter clustering. I think its best to stick with a simple design (not that mine is built simply, but the design is simple) and let the bees do the work. I don't think it will help them to winter over just because they have larger combs. THe whole cluster doesn't have to be on honey, just part of the cluster to get to the honey for sharing with the rest. Most of the cluster hangs out in empty combs staying warm.
    Scot Mc Pherson<br />McPherson Family Honey Farms<br />Davenport, IA<br />BeeWiki: <a href=\"http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org\" target=\"_blank\">http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org</a> <br /><br />Pics:<br /> <a href=\"http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/\" target=\"_blank\">http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/</a>

  15. #15
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    &lt;You must be able to remove the comb, you can't view it from the side for an inspection..

    good point

  16. #16
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    Hi Scot,

    &gt;I don't see the same thing as dennis really. I see my smallest cells mostly on the bottom and I have never seen honey on the bottom of the brood nest, though I have seen some drone cells.


    Yikes! If that's what you've got from what I have been posting here all these years and on my website, then not only do we see things differently, but we read and understand most words differently too. :&gt)))

    Regards
    Dennis
    I once wrangled bees. But now, knowing better, I just let them bee. It's only natural.
    http://talkingstick.me/bees/

  17. #17
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    I was just repsonding to what you wrote above, but as you point out, I think our observations are quite a bit different. Not incompatible, just different.

    I am not knocking what you are saying, only adding my experiences and highlighting the differences so people have the chance to see the full spectrum.
    Scot Mc Pherson<br />McPherson Family Honey Farms<br />Davenport, IA<br />BeeWiki: <a href=\"http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org\" target=\"_blank\">http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org</a> <br /><br />Pics:<br /> <a href=\"http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/\" target=\"_blank\">http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/</a>

  18. #18
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    Hi Scot,

    And that's a good thing!

    Regards
    Dennis
    I once wrangled bees. But now, knowing better, I just let them bee. It's only natural.
    http://talkingstick.me/bees/

  19. #19
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    it seems to me that if a tbh was producing less honey than a lang their might be untapped nectar in the forage area and that more tbh could be supported than langs.
    all that is gold does not glitter

  20. #20
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    stangardner,
    yes that is true, but there is a little equation that old beekeeper's understood.

    100,000 bees per 1 hive
    does NOT equal
    100,000 bees per 2 hives

    You will get more total surplus in the 1 hive with 100,000 bees than the 2 hives with 50,000 bees each. So yes the area might support more hives, BUT the total surplus honey output of the yard is still effected.

    You want to manage your bees to be as effective as possible without causing stress in order to be as effective as possible. TBHs require more knowledgeable management to get the same kinds of output, but then again isn't that one of the reasons why we still use tbhs after all this time? We learned a lot more about our bees and their preferences and their behavior and seasonal processes because of the tbhs, and we have realized we will continue learning a GREAT DEAL MORE. Its worth the little bit of extra effort to work through the hive and sometimes more often (to prevent the bees from getting ahead of you and making a mess) and learning more about what you need to do to care for them even int he langs.
    Scot Mc Pherson<br />McPherson Family Honey Farms<br />Davenport, IA<br />BeeWiki: <a href=\"http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org\" target=\"_blank\">http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org</a> <br /><br />Pics:<br /> <a href=\"http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/\" target=\"_blank\">http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/</a>

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