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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Northern Minnesota
    Posts
    40

    Big Grin

    I'm intrigued by tbh's and would like to try one or two this summer. But, I read that tbh's are better adapted for tropical areas, or areas with mild winters. We live in northern Minnesota and the word "tropical" or "mild winters" are seldom used in the same sentence with "Minnesota". Any advice? Will they work in our climate?

    Thanks,

    Jimmy

  2. #2

    Post

    I think that my TBH did owerwinter better than my Langs because the bars did insulate the bees above.Unlike Lang frames.When I opened the hive from the backside I felt with my hand the warmth inside it - it was warm and inside!I think the problem is the moisture more than coldness.I have mold on one comb and I have to provide some kind of ventilation.Also the issue is how deep will your TBH bee.If you have not enough honey above brood your bees wil starve.Gennerally I have the feeling that my bees are overwintering better in a TBH than in a Lang.But I will have to check that assumption when I make my first detail hive checking.
    "Do nothing. Time is too precious to waste." Buddha

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    chatsworth, calif usa
    Posts
    405

    Post

    Jimmy-
    My advice is to build one and see what happens. You will be amazed at the experience.-j
    My Mom's other kids are smarter than me, but i'm not nearly as nice.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Northern Minnesota
    Posts
    40

    Post

    Thanks, Sasha and jim, for your advice and thoughts, I do appreaciate it!

    Jim, I see you are from California, and your advice of trying it is appealing. After all, I have little to lose.

    Sasha: you did not mention where you live, are you in a cold climate too? Is this your first winter with them? What style do you two use?

    Jim

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    1,649

    Post

    I built one last spring and decided to leave it alone to see how it would fare. It became badly infested with mites by late summer/early fall and died out before having a chance to overwinter.

    I haven't decided yet it I'm going to reuse the existing comb or melt it down and start over.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Casper, WY
    Posts
    526

    Post

    Hi Guys,

    I overwinter tbhs in one of the toughest climates in the lower 48. My tbhs do fine. But my tbhs have been designed with this in mind. The comb is much taller at 16" and somewhat longer at 22" than the 'normal' tbh comb. And my tbhs have more than twice the volume when compared to other tbhs.

    So... I think a tbh will do fine, even in a hostile climate like Casper Wyomings has if it's designed right.

    Michael Bush, eastern Nebraska, has overwintered bees in a long hive composed of medium depth frames. They did fine for him if I remember correctly. His climate is alot more mild than mine, but its not a mild one.

    Regards
    Dennis

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    chatsworth, calif usa
    Posts
    405

    Post

    Jimmy-

    >What style do you two use?<

    I built a Tanzanian style because i'm not much of a woodworker and it looked easier. My next one will be a Kenyan. I don't really think that it will be much more difficult, and the idea of being able to remove the bars with comb more easily is very appealing.

    I will also incorporate a screened bottom.

    I built it quite deep- twelve inches, i think, and the combs are unwieldy. I've had accidents and they are not fun.

    I also built "swarm capture" frames to fit and have had occasion to use them.

    I cut the bars to one and a quarter for the broodnest and one and a half for the rest and it's worked well. I glued triangular pieces of wood down the center of each bar to provide a recomendation for a place for them to start and that has worked well.

    I drilled several three quarter inch holes in the solid bottom to let any water run out and several in the sides for entrances and ventilation. I figured they would propolize anything they didn't want, but they seem to use them all.

    Some of the bars are thicker than others so i just put a piece of plywood on top for a cover and so far there's been enough air flow thar i've not had any heat-related comb failures. I placed it under trees in the shade.

    That may be more than you wanted to know, but you can take from it what you want and leave the rest. In the long run, do just what you want,but i would suggest that you definately do it!

    Regards,j
    My Mom's other kids are smarter than me, but i'm not nearly as nice.

  8. #8

    Post

    Jim:
    Sasha: you did not mention where you live, are you in a cold climate too? Is this your first winter with them? What style do you two use?

    I live in Serbia it is a continental climate if that is the proper name.I have got max temperature +30 C in summer and down to -25 C in winter so I got both of the worlds sometimes [img]smile.gif[/img]
    I use tanzanian TBH ,I have made ten of them but after comb colapsing in one case I have put in Lang frames in it and now I have only one "true" tbh.It has comb of about 30 cm depth.
    "Do nothing. Time is too precious to waste." Buddha

  9. #9

    Post

    Gennerally ,TBH is a hive designed for tropical areas,and that is the problem for us in colder climates.All the books are saying that we need deeper combs because of need for sufficient honeystores,or alternativelly , honey supers.
    Maybethe answer is to use honey supers,but then what is the point of tbh?
    Could top bars be used in a lang hive?But then it is better to use foundationless frames.
    "Do nothing. Time is too precious to waste." Buddha

  10. #10

    Post

    I noticed in this discussion a few things I would like to comment.
    1. Moisture. The problem of moisture is not existing in hives built with proper thermal insulation. Dripping water from hive is an evident proof that such hive is bad.
    Bees generate heat and moisture which is almost always, except in high south, higher than outside. In winter a cold walls and ceiling of hive condensate vapor which in a form of water flows down on a floor and stay there or is getting out through some of orifices, in winter visible in a form of icicles. If the water stay in a hive, when temperature slightly rises, this water is a source of excess of humidity.
    Other thing related to insulation is, that bees can survive very low temperature but maintaining steady temperature, so necessary for them, in poorly insulated hive is much difficult for them, in winter and in summer.
    In my hives I applied pink styrofoam 1” thick, and there was no any dripping. Bars are relatively thick plus additional insulation above. Wintering went uneventfully.
    2. Varroa mites. We know that developing of this mites goes on I the nest, but is spread all over above it. So, if some mites drops from whatever reason from a bee, the chance to get to the floor is very little. In KTBH with full “V” shape with a screen on the bottom a chances to fall outside through a screen are much higher.

    I am not hiding, that I am enthusiast of KTBH up to a point of regarding Langstroths as a most unnatural hives ever. Productive? Yes, but only because are suitable for massive transportation to a big postures.
    Apis mellifera survived millions of years without help from homo sapiens. If this apis survive a few more hundreds of years with his help is a matter of question, especially with all this chemicals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, depleated uranium, spred all over atmosphere, DNS experimentation and so on. First are apis mellifera catastrophes, the next is homo sapiens if these wars are not enought. Often I think if this homo is really sapiens.

    I hope that you will forgive me my imperfect English.
    Good that it is TBH discussion otherwise this langstrothers would kill me
    Wojtek
    Wojtek

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,313

    Post

    >His climate is alot more mild than mine, but its not a mild one.

    Correct. Usualy we get a couple of weeks of -10 F. Some winters I get a couple of weeks of -20 F. Occasionally we get -38 F. My horizontal hives and top bar version of the same winter fine.

    You can see pictures on my web site.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12

    Post

    Wojtek:
    "In my hives I applied pink styrofoam 1” thick, and there was no any dripping. Bars are relatively thick plus additional insulation above."

    Where did you put the 1" insulation,on the all wals,bottom?Or just on the top bars?
    "Do nothing. Time is too precious to waste." Buddha

  13. #13

    Post

    “Where did you put the 1" insulation, on the all wals, bottom? Or just on the top bars?” (Sasza)

    The picture will give you better idea then my description. I have posted this URL before but to save you time for searching I am giving you it again.
    The cover is made also with 1” pink styrofoam in wooden frame. External surface of cover is covered with thin layer of synthetic stucco, giving me sufficient surface stiffness and live time protection against erosion. Still very light.
    To eliminate some water condensation in the area between roof (bars) and cover, I filled this space with ½” soft foam (The one people use under carpet). There are plenty of it on a street at a time of garbage collection. This foam is covered on both sides with plastic from large garbage bags, so there is no flow of air inside this foam. This is also additional thermal insulation, which is never too much, especially on the top. Sometimes I hear that combs are collapsing. I am sure that the reason for this is insufficient insulation of a roof.
    If you need some more explanation I will gladly respond.
    http://homepage.interaccess.com/~net...ezramkowy.html
    Glimps also on this. This is the front page with some picture too.
    http://homepage.interaccess.com/~net...ezramkowy.html

    Wojtek

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Northern Minnesota
    Posts
    40

    Post

    Thank you all for the great discussion! I have much greater confidence that they can be effective in our climate, which I suspect, is not all that different from Serbia or WY.

    Because of temperature extremes, however, I do think I'll use insulation; if nothing more than to alleviate the rapid temperature changes, as well as moisture problems. During the winter, we can have a warm sunny day in the 30?s (F) and have a drop to an overnight low of -30 (F). It?s not common, but it does happen.

    In our barns, we use cupolas to enable the moisture caused by the animals to exhaust naturally. Does anyone think this concept would be helpful in my -- soon to be built -- tbh's?

    Thanks again for your thoughts.

    Jimmy

  15. #15

    Post

    I dont really know what do you mean by cupolas in a tbh?I know that skep is in a conus shape,perhaps it helps with moisture issue,but I tend to think that moisture is a result of not sufficient ventilation,and not an insulation issue.
    "Do nothing. Time is too precious to waste." Buddha

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Northern Minnesota
    Posts
    40

    Post

    Sorry Sasha, I should have explained… A cupola is a small structure build on a barn roof (perhaps other structures as well) that are somewhat decorative, but whose primary function is to allow moisture, generated from farm animals during the winter, to escape while keeping the unwanted elements (rain, snow, birds, etc) out. Visualize a very small church steeple with louvered vents mounted centrally on the top ridge of a barn.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Brooklyn, Connecticut
    Posts
    84

    Post

    A well sealed air gap on the sides of the hive is sufficient for sidewall insulation (make a sandwich of plywood around a frame). Most of your heat loss is through the roof (like a house). I used foil faced insulation in the roof of mine to reflect heat back (radiation transfer). It's important to select a spot that won't overheat inthe summer but will provide enough solar heating in the winter. I placed mine on the edge of our woods that gets good cover from hardwood trees in the summer. The hive gets early morning sun then, and in the winter gets sun till about 12 noon. Ventilation is very important too, especially when the bees are trying to condense honey. I used some plastic fitting in the ends of my roof. The fittings get capped in the winter to minimize infiltration but I open them in the spring. If you put your hand under the vent while the bees are fanning you can feel airflow. I have a picture of the hive at the bottom of my website:
    www.meadowstonefarm.com
    Not sure if you can trust me though, looks like my hive didn't make it the winter
    They were buzzing around fine a few weeks ago, then we had a cold snap and it seems to have done them in.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Northern Minnesota
    Posts
    40

    Post

    Thanks for the comments...

    Have you conducted a necropsy on the hive? I lost some too, but am quite sure they starved.

    Great looking hive!! Why didn?t you use some type of insulation instead of the air-space in the walls? I?m struggling with the insulation issue and am leaning towards a double wall with insulation, but I?m open to suggestion/ideas. My other thought was to use rough-cut, full one-inch cedar.

    Wonderful website, by the way!!

    Jimmy

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Brooklyn, Connecticut
    Posts
    84

    Post

    Air space is an excellent insulator. I suppose I could have used insulation on the sides but I wanted them to conduct moisture out of the hive during the summer. Most any insulation you get will act as a vapor barrier and impede moisture migration. Thanks for the compliments. I haven't checked the hive out fully yet, maybe this weekend. They definately didn't starve, as I saw plenty of honey still stored---also no mites on the bees I did look at. Also if you are thinking of using solid wood, think about the weight. I had to move the hive out to the field and it was pretty heavy when empty. The cover is tough to move around by yourself too. All in all it was a good experiment. The only complaint I had was that the bees were continuously building comb in all sorts of weird directions and fusing the bars to the top of the hive. I was very careful to machine the bars to an exact spacing but it doesn't seem they cared. Late last summer they started to build comb perpendicular to the bars, as it was late in the season I left it. I'll take photos when I get into the hive and post them for you guys to see and comment on.

    Kris

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Whitefield, Maine USA
    Posts
    6,624

    Post

    >Air space is an excellent insulator

    Dead air space is. Convection currents rapidly destroy the insulative properties of air spaces in all but those with narrow dimensions. I believe the optimum spacing is something like 3/8" or so... hmm... about the same as bee space [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Fiberglass insulation largeley works because it traps air, preventing convection currents. Glass in and of itself isn't a particularly good insulator, or conductor.
    Dulcius ex asperis

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