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  1. #1

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    I know some of you have experience using TBH's that are both angled and straight sided. Those of you that have used both what are your preferences? Do the angled sides really help prevent attachments more than the straight sides? I know on my two hives, they attached a little bit when first building their combs, but after I cut them they didn't reattach them at all. Will this happen similarily with a straight sided hive? I am trying to plan an observation hive and a straight sided hive would be easier and more attractive I think as well as being a little easier to build. I can see where a angled side would make pulling combs out easier, but I suppose it can still be done easily enough with straight sides. If so, how deep would be too deep for a straight sided hive?

    I plan on building a straight sided hive, but would have to wait a while before really seeing its benefits and drawbacks over a Kenyan hive. Any advice or experiences you'd be willing to pass along? Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Plano, North Texas
    Posts
    318

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    I was intrigued by an idea I found on the web at
    http://www.rupertshoney.co.za/rh/jhh_advantage.htm

    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. Even with straight sides, adding the dowels is more work, although less than building Langstroth frames.

    I have two straight-sided TBHs and used JTBs in one of them to try the idea out. Some of my JTBs have the bottom dowel and some don't, but it seems to work about the same either way.

    After a good season with them in place, I have concluded that next year I am going to put them in the brood area of all my hives. The reason is that with the JTBs, the bees attach the comb to the side dowel instead of the side wall, and I can lift it out of the hive without worrying about attachments. Where I used plain TBs, I have to cut attachment out every single time I work them and the bees re-attach as soon as they can. I made my bars 20" long, and my hives 11" deep, which is a bit on the large side, and I think a permanent attachment point will be much better for keeping such large comb intact. The theory seems to be that the bees know when they need to attach the combs to the sides and bottom of the hive to support the weight. If so, they need it badly in my hives, because they always attach continuously down the sides.

    You can see the early comb in my hives, including their bar attachment in these photos: http://keith.smugmug.com/gallery/680485/1/29483586
    The comb is much larger now and runs almost (not quite) all the way down and across the frame.
    "Before I speak, I have something I'd like to say. . . . I will try to keep this short as long as I can." Yogi Berra

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Totnes, Devon, England
    Posts
    1,019

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    I suspect the relationship between depth and width holds the key to whether or not they attach. My first TBH was about 14" wide and 10" deep and they certainly attached their comb. My latest is 15" between sides and 14" deep, but no bees in it yet so I can't say if it's successful yet. I am going to experiment with thin bent wooden rods as comb supports, which should keep them contained.

    I have made a nuc with only 12" wide TBs, using galvanised metal loops to contain combs and this works a treat, but I don't like using metal inside the hive (although the bees don't seem to mind) as it may interfere with heat distribution in the winter.

    I will be posting more at www.biobees.com soonish.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Berkey, OH, USA
    Posts
    1,487

    Post

    Keith pretty amazing pics looks like you got a wild bee tree hive to move into a TBH?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Plano, North Texas
    Posts
    318

    Post

    We didn't get them to move in, but we captured a lot of workers from the feral hive and got them to adopt our weaker hive as home. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    That hive is smaller (about 15 top bars) and I put a window in the side, which is fun.
    "Before I speak, I have something I'd like to say. . . . I will try to keep this short as long as I can." Yogi Berra

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,121

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    >Those of you that have used both what are your preferences?

    I think my KTBH was the easiest to make but I like the interchangability of using a long hive in Langstroth medium frame dimensions better because I can interchange parts with my other hives and have nucs etc.

    >Do the angled sides really help prevent attachments more than the straight sides?

    In my observation, no.

    >I know on my two hives, they attached a little bit when first building their combs, but after I cut them they didn't reattach them at all.

    That's been my experience with both KTBH and TTBH.

    >Will this happen similarily with a straight sided hive?

    Exactly.

    >I am trying to plan an observation hive and a straight sided hive would be easier and more attractive I think as well as being a little easier to build.

    Actually, mine are easier to build because I wanted them interchanable with the Langs, but if I didn't do the rabbeted frame rests, I suppose it wouldn't be any harder than my KTBH, but neither would it be any easier. My KTBH is just five boards cut to length with no angled or beveled cuts for the box and then, of course, all of the bars. My TTBH I had to cut the frame rabbets etc.

    >I can see where a angled side would make pulling combs out easier, but I suppose it can still be done easily enough with straight sides.

    If the straight sided hive is shallow (like a medium depth lang) then it's not that hard to pull out, but if it's deeper it gets harder. Yes, the sloped sides are easier to pull out, especially with a deeper comb.

    >If so, how deep would be too deep for a straight sided hive?

    My first was a Langstroth deep with top bars in it. In other words 9 5/8" plus 3/4" (for the bottomboard) so it was 10 3/8" from the top to the bottom board. After a complete collapse I decided to go shallower and went to 7 3/8" or so (the depth of a one by eight without cutting it) and put a 3/4" deep rabbet in for the "frame rest". This worked fine as did a narrower slope sided one that was the original 10 3/8" or so deep.

    >I plan on building a straight sided hive, but would have to wait a while before really seeing its benefits and drawbacks over a Kenyan hive. Any advice or experiences you'd be willing to pass along? Thanks in advance!

    To me the big advantage is simply that I have nucs, lids, various sized boxes that already fit mediums and can take the medium top bars interchangably. That's a big advantage to me. Also I can steal a frame of brood from one of my medium depth langstroth hives if I needed it. Also the straight sided wastes less when doing cut comb, but I just crush and strain the "waste" so it's not that big of a deal, but the straight sided one is already "square" so there isn't that wasted angled portion of the comb.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7

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    What would be the smallest practical size topbar hive? An observation hive that can be moved periodically for fairs, conventions, schools etc. would be great but a large hive would be troublesome to move any significant distance. Would 12" long topbars 6" deep be too small? Could I manage them to keep them happy in the smaller hive? How many bars would make it practical?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    Posts
    3,598

    Post

    when I look at the tbh I'm building now, I kinda think of bee's nesting in a wall cavity, which they are very happy to do. I would think 12" wide and 6" deep would be fine, it's a matter of how long it needs to be for the hive to make enough stores for winter.
    also if it's to small, you're gonna have a hard time keeping them from swarming

    Dave

  9. #9

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    I was thinking maybe building a sort of super for them to build winter stores for then using the hive itself when showing. Swarming shouldn't be too much of a problem if I use this more as a teaching/exhibition hive right? If they swarm it's not too much of a problem, right? Or maybe I could make a removable back then bolt on an extension to give them more room after showing? Any thoughts?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    Posts
    3,598

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    Heritage

    I'm not sure exactly where you're headed, but look at a couple of pics I have.

    for reasons that have nothing to do with tbh's, I've been using starter strips instead of foundation
    (it has to do with controlling varroa)

    http://www.drobbins.net/bee's/Dsc00780.jpg

    you just give em a little foundation to get started then let em build natural comb.
    here it is after a week

    http://www.drobbins.net/bee's/Dsc00779.jpg

    I built a regular medium box with a window

    http://www.drobbins.net/bee's/Dsc00782.jpg
    http://www.drobbins.net/bee's/Dsc00783.jpg

    I took a fully drawn frame from another box and put it in the center of the box with the window with 9 more frames that had starter strips.
    so you can see in the window and view the fully drawn frame, cause the strips don't get in the way.
    well, the bee's start drawing the starter strips closest to the drawn frame first, so you get this kinda "cascading" view as they build the comb out toward the window. it was really kool.

    http://www.drobbins.net/bee's/window2.jpg

    the picture really doesn't do it justice.

    now, I also built a sorta kinda observation hive

    http://www.drobbins.net/bee's/Dsc00958.jpg

    it hold 8 medium frames, 4 each on 2 rows.
    I plan to use it in a similar manner.
    I haven't done it yet but plan to make a split into it in the spring.
    that's a feeder on top
    If your looking for an observation hive that shows bee's building natural comb, maybe something along those lines would work. since it's 2 frames high and 4 wide it's pretty compact to carry around.
    you could also just use an ordinary observation hive with starter strips (save money on foundation too)

    anyway, just thought I'd throw a few ideas your way

    Dave

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