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  1. #1

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    I'm guessing the langstroth hive will produce more honey?? if so normally how much more??thanks!!
    Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms should be a convenience store not a government agency

  2. #2
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    Maybe a Langstroth hive will produce more honey while you have to pay a little less attention, but I'd say a TBH will produce more honey for the actual labor. More per hive? Probably no real difference. The top bar hive will have to be tended more often with less lifting and labor involved.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
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    How do you know when to stop harvesting honey/comb so they will have adequate winter reserves? What are your guidelines?

    Jimmy

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    Hi Jimmy,

    Just let the bees show you. Don't get too greedy the first couple of seasons. Watch what the bees consume until they can start making a living the following spring. Any more than that is surplus.

    Regards
    Dennis

  5. #5
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    Hi Blkcloud

    My experience indicates a typical tbh just can't produce as much honey as a Lang. Simply because a tbh is usually vertically challenged.

    As the bees prepare for winter, they attempt to pack all comb directly above the broodnest core. And then they will put enough honey in the honey storage area to carry them through the winter/early spring. At some point, the colony will become complacent and not store any more honey.

    A Lang hive, with it's infinitely flexible open space above the broodnest, keeps the bees working. But a tbh, with it's fixed space above the broodnest can be quickly filled depending upon the depth of the comb.

    Another factor that complicates this process is the time of the season for the major honey flows. Less impact is seen if the honey flows occur in the spring, after swarming. They are very pronounced if the major flows are just before swarming or toward the end of the summer. It is at these times that the bees are vertically focused.

    Regards
    Dennis

    [size="1"][ March 05, 2006, 07:58 PM: Message edited by: B Wrangler ][/size]

  6. #6

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    "(...)As the bees prepare for winter, they attempt to pack all comb directly above the broodnest core. And then they will put enough honey in the honey storage area to carry them through the winter/early spring. At some point, the colony will become complacent and not store any more honey.(...)" (Wrangler)

    So, this could indicate that rather deeper than wider combs, I think, what is more natural shape of combs. That is why my last hives are deeper, more slopped side walls. With movable bottom cradle I can position it higher or lower, this way making dipper or more shallow combs. This may cause some problem with manipulating. It is definitely more difficult to manipulate deep combs than shallow. Wee have to work-out the optimal shape, means the most natural and still manageable.
    Wojtek

  7. #7
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    > I'd say a TBH will produce more honey

    A claim refuted by the general trend of
    movement away from "primitive" beekeeping
    in 3rd-World nations, where top-bar schemes
    are "traditional", to "Langstroth" type hives,
    where supers can be added at whim. Iran is
    a great example, where an agricultural company
    named "Korpa" has production statistics that
    are compelling, given that blooms are scarce
    in Iran, and conditions dry:

    Where average honey production is 25 kg/year
    35% of hives are Langstroth hives (350,000)

    Where average honey production is 12 kg /year
    25% of hives are Langstroth hives (120,000)

    Where average honey production is 8 kg /year
    10% of hives are Langstroth hives (50,000)

    Iran's beekeepers are connecting the dots in
    the data above, and moving hives to Langstroth
    equipment so that they can get more honey from
    their brief blooming periods.

    > for the actual labor.

    Any "savings" in woodworking labor gained through
    using TBHs are quickly eaten up by the extra
    labor required to deal with the mess of unframed
    combs, the destruction of drawn comb inherent in
    most harvesting (crush/strain) approaches used
    with TBHs (but the new Swienty extractor might
    solve this problem for the very few rich hobbyists
    among TBH beekeepers), and the inherent limits of
    not being able to add several times the brood
    chamber volume of drawn comb to maximize nectar
    storage and evaporation surface area.

    If one were to jury-rig "supers" for TBHs, and
    remove a few top bars to allow the bees to move up
    to the supers, this would create a more level
    playing field, but without supers, one is doomed
    with a TBH to an inherently "horizontal" set-up,
    and one with a limited comb volume.

    > More per hive? Probably no real difference.

    The entire planet is realizing that this is
    not at all true.

    The figures from Iran were provided as a part
    of Korpa's proposal to become a Bee-Quick dealer,
    as using Bee-Quick within a top-bar hive is
    problematic, due to the small total volume, and
    the need to move bees sideways to get them off
    the crop to be harvested.

  8. #8
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    Hi Guys,

    One a lbs/hive basis the Langs will produce more than a tbh. But there are other ways to compare production.

    I can build a tbh, equivalent to a 3+ deep Lang hive, from new material for about $26. Looking at the latest bee catalogs, it would cost about $190 for a new equivalent Lang hive. So I can build about 7 tbhs for the material cost of a single Lang.

    Taking the lowest figure from Iran of 8kg/year, my investment in tbhs could produce 56kg.

    While taking the highest figure from Iran of 25kg/year, the same investment in a Lang would yield only about half the amount of honey that the tbhs produced.

    In reality lots of other factors can skew this example. Tbhs can be built for almost nothing using locally available materials. While Langs are usually shipped in at a much greater expense.

    Risk and loss are distributed among a great number of tbhs when compared to the Langs. Loose the production of one tbh out of seven, ouch. Loose production of the single Lang, bankrupt. ;.)

    My tbhs more than kept up with my three story Langs in production of both honey and bees throughout the summer. The difference between vertical and horizontal focus was negligable.

    But the Langs surpassed the tbhs when they prepared for winter at summers end. If a beekeeper lives in a climate where most of the honey production occurs at this time, major differences in per hive production will be seen. But if most of the honey production occurs during the late spring and early summer, the difference between the two types of hives could almost be negligable.

    This seems to be the case where the primary honey source is tree related(acacia, citrus, locust) versus the more agricultural related crops like alfalfa, etc.

    Concerning labor costs, I thought all beekeepers worked for free :&gt))

    Sorry Jim, but Bee-Quick isn't needed in a tbh. When the bees are brushed off a comb face, they quickly race toward the front of the hive leaving the comb ready for harvest. Zip, the comb is cut off the top bar into a bucket and the top bar is returned to the hive. Only the honey is transported.

    Regards
    Dennis

    [size="1"][ March 07, 2006, 10:27 AM: Message edited by: B Wrangler ][/size]

  9. #9
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    > I can build a tbh, equivalent to a 3+ deep Lang
    > hive, from new material for about $26... it would
    > cost about $190 for a new equivalent Lang hive.
    > So I can build about 7 tbhs for the material cost
    > of a single Lang.

    What's your LABOR worth?
    The comparison is laughable - clearly, not apples
    to apples to compare the price of ready-made
    hive components with the price of lumber.

    We build everything except frames here, mostly
    because we don't like bridge comb, and square
    boxes are easier to build than the slope-sided
    TBHs, so a fair comparison should assume that
    the "cost delta" is the cost of frames, but even
    this comparison is overly-generous to the TBH.

    > Tbhs can be built for almost nothing using
    > locally available materials. While Langs are
    > usually shipped in at a much greater expense.

    Gee, why would it be so easy to build one box
    but so impossible to build another? Woodenware
    can be built anywhere, including frames. Those
    willing to make jigs can and do make their own
    frames, so again, we have a bogus comparison.
    Of course woodenware can be locally made.

    The other comparisons made are equally bogus.
    Face it, TBHs are a choice, and beekeepers
    planet-wide are voting with their feet.

    > Zip, the comb is cut off the top bar into a
    > bucket and the top bar is returned to the hive.
    > Only the honey is transported.

    And ZAP the bees have to start over from square
    one DRAWING NEW COMB, the costliest step of all,
    the most time-consuming step of all!!!

    Having a deep inventory of drawn comb is the
    only thing that allows one to fully exploit
    a nectar flow, so if one could somehow "super"
    a TBH, I don't think that there would be
    much difference, save for the restrictions
    inherent in a "single box" brood chamber, where
    the broodnest is forced into unnatural
    horizontal shapes.

    But puhleeze... don't make comparisons that
    do not take into account the advantages of
    each approach, as each approach has specific
    upsides and downsides, and TBHs are a choice
    to sacrifice production for a lower-cost
    initial investment, while Langs are a choice
    to maximize production by capitalizing with
    comb that can be reused many seasons.

    (Here's an idea - kludge some permacomb into
    a sloped-sided TBH configuration!)

  10. #10
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    -Iran is
    a great example

    according to the media iran is also trying to develop nuclear power plants etc. maybe good maybe bad.

    -as using Bee-Quick within a top-bar hive is
    problematic

    you dont need bee-quick or a host of other stuff using a minamalist approach. be kinda problematic to sell me foundation too
    all that is gold does not glitter

  11. #11
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    Hi Jim,

    >What's your LABOR worth?
    >The comparison is laughable - clearly, not apples
    >to apples to compare the price of ready-made
    >hive components with the price of lumber.

    >We build everything except.....

    I compared the cost of the raw materials only omitting the labor costs. I'll bet I can build a top bar hive with less labor cost than you can your equivalent Lang. So, what's your labor worth? You must have some kind of operation if you can buy the lumber and build the woodenware cheaper than it can be purchased from the manufactures!

    >Gee, why would it be so easy to build one box
    >but so impossible to build another? Woodenware
    >can be built anywhere, including frames.

    Well, if you include building the frames, that's got to increase the labor cost even more. But a resourceful tbher isn't restricted to woodenware. Lots of other options are available and can be used where even a table saw isn't available.

    >The other comparisons made are equally bogus.
    >Face it, TBHs are a choice, and beekeepers
    >planet-wide are voting with their feet.

    That's not been my experience. In fact, tbh beekeeping has been increasing in popularity if the hits on my website are any indication.

    Much concerning modern agriculture and beekeeping in particular have been focused on the sell. And most suppliers have been very good at it.

    >And ZAP the bees have to start over from square
    >one DRAWING NEW COMB, the costliest step of all,
    >the most time-consuming step of all!!!

    It's not as costly and doesn't take as much time as one might think. Bees in a tbh can easily and rapidly draw out comb when needed. Bees have a much harder time drawing out foundation based comb. And with foundation it's very time consuming. Beekeepers with only foundation experience assume that the bees have as much trouble with natural comb as they do with foundation, which they don't.

    And new comb is actually an advantage for colony health, especially for those beekeepers that dump every kind of chemical in their hives to treat mites or chase bees. Or for those who live in the pollution associated with urbanization or modern agriculture frame rotation is a must. Frame rotation isn't a problem in a tbh. But it's a real pain in a Lang.

    >Having a deep inventory of drawn comb is the
    >only thing that allows one to fully exploit
    >a nectar flow,...

    Depends on the type of nectar flow, I think! Beekeepers in SA have reported an increase in production using tbhs as compared with Langs.

    >Here's an idea - kludge some permacomb into
    >a sloped-sided TBH configuration!)

    Why would anyone what to do that! You'd end up with the same kind of mess that is found in Lang beekeeping today. A single cell size which is too big for mite tolerance. A comb that is a pain to rotate. A increase in the hive cost. And the promulgation that comb is a capital assest rather than a consumable.

    I've run thousands of hives as a commercial beekeeper. I've run tens of hives as a hobbiest. And I run a few tbhs as well. From that perspective, the thought that a sideliner or hobbiest should run bees on a mini-commercial basis is laughable. I tried it, not knowing any better, until I ran a few tbhs.

    But my perspective changed after the tbh experience. Any beekeeper with a few hives who attempts to mimic the large commercial guys is only placing himself on the beekeeping spending treadmill much to the delight of all those suppliers. And there are some substantial additional costs beyond the hive cost if combs are to be re-used. Did I forget to mention the cost of the extractor and uncapping knife, etc. :&gt

    I can go to my garage and for less than $30 build a fully functional beehive. And I won't need a single item from the bee catalog, not frames, foundation, fume boards, chems, treatments, extractors or any of the other assorted stuff except for a veil, bee brush and a smoker.

    And come harvest time, I will spend 15 minutes preparing my comb mash. Gravity will do the rest, over a few days, without any help from me. That's alot different that spending the entire weekend running a capping knife and a small extractor.

    And I don't care about a lb/hive average. If I want more honey, I can build another tbh for about the same cost a Lang beekeeper spends to add another super to his inventory!

    The thought that the main measure for beekeeping can be found in a lbs/hive measurement is a very narrow perspective. It's quite common in the US and I think some commercial beekeepers are going to learn that another factor like cost/lb is more important, especially with the fuel prices and with wholesale honey prices being what they are now.

    Regards
    Dennis

    [size="1"][ March 11, 2006, 12:00 PM: Message edited by: B Wrangler ][/size]

  12. #12
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    > tbh beekeeping has been increasing in popularity
    > if the hits on my website are any indication.

    The people I am talking about are NOT hobby
    beekeepers with computers, but instead, those
    who use TBH or similar hives in 3rd world nations
    because they "always have done things that way".

    > I compared the cost of the raw materials only
    > omitting the labor costs.

    No, you compared lumber cost with the price of
    a pre-cut, pre-drilled, ready-to-assemble hive
    with precision joints and tolerances!!!

    >> DRAWING NEW COMB, the costliest step of
    >> all, the most time-consuming step of all!!!

    > It's not as costly and doesn't take as much
    > time as one might think.

    Anyone who would believe THAT silly claim would
    injure themselves on sharp cheddar!

    > Bees in a tbh can easily and rapidly draw out
    > comb when needed.

    Oh, yes... suuuure... just put the bees in a
    different BOX, and somehow they are able to
    draw comb with ease. [img]smile.gif[/img] Get real!

    > Bees have a much harder time drawing out
    > foundation based comb.

    Oh, yes of COURSE... actually giving the bees
    some wax to work with and a surface to work
    upon slows them down every time! That's why
    foundation is only bought by the newbies and
    the foolish among us... again, get real!

    Regardless of what estimate you use, every
    fully-drawn comb I can slap on a hive before
    a flow means that my hives produce multiple
    pounds of honey for every pound TBH bees can
    provide when they must draw new comb with
    the bulk of the flow before they even START
    to store and evaporate nectar.

    > And with foundation it's very time consuming.
    > Beekeepers with only foundation experience
    > assume that the bees have as much trouble with
    > natural comb as they do with foundation, which
    > they don't.

    If the statement above were true, no one would
    EVER buy foundation, at least for brood boxes.
    Funny how commercial operations, where cost is
    such a big factor that they will argue over a
    penny per frame, will never fail to use foundation.

    > A single cell size which is too big for mite
    > tolerance.

    Oh, so you haven't heard that foundation is
    even available in "small size" for those who
    have drunk the Kool-Aid, and want to buy new
    packages every 2 to 3 years? [img]smile.gif[/img]

    I'm sorry Dennis, but your rationalization of
    TBHs as somehow "more productive" is simply
    laughable. If even ONE point were valid, the
    idea/concept would have spread far beyond the
    fringe element that limits their bees to TBH
    enclosures.

  13. #13
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    Hello Again,

    >The people I am talking about are NOT hobby
    beekeepers with computers, but instead,...

    Well, I don't know everyone you are talking to but the ones you've mentioned here had a decided commercial interest in getting all those poor backwards folks converted over to the modern way of doing things.

    >No, you compared lumber cost with the price of
    a pre-cut, pre-drilled, ready-to-assemble hive
    with precision joints and tolerances!!!

    Well, that's the way every commercial beekeeper I've known buys them. And they buy them knocked down, on pallets, by the semi load because they simply cannot even buy the lumber for the cost of the pre-cut, pre-drilled, ready to assemble hive. I'd still like to know how you can do it when the big boys can't.

    I suspect that if tbhs were produced by the bee equipment manufactures, like the Lang equipment is, it would be half of my current cost. Maybe even less. $15/hive?

    >Anyone who would believe THAT silly claim would...
    ... just put the bees in a
    different BOX, and somehow they are able to
    draw comb with ease...
    ... actually giving the bees
    some wax to work with and a surface to work
    upon slows them down every time...

    Well, just what has been your experience with natural comb versus foundation based comb? What are your observations? Are your statements based on your experience with bees? Or are you simply repeating what someone else has told you? Or maybe it's just the result of an active imagination fueled by a combative spirit?

    And yes that has been my experience. It's not about the empty box. It's about bees drawing out comb their way versus making them drawn it out the foundation way.

    There's something about foundation that slows the bees down. And others have noticed it also. This may be a shock to anyone who is arrogant enough to think that man can produce foundation better than the bees can produce a midrib, but foundation wasn't designed to enhance the bees ability to draw out comb. Rather, it was designed to make comb stronger and straighter so that it could withstand the rigors of the extractor. But a few things like cell size and broodnest structure were either not seen or ignored as unimportant when man thought he could organize and manage the bees better than the bees themselves could.

    >Oh, so you haven't heard that foundation is
    even available in "small size" ...

    You know that I'm quite aware of that fact, as I've been reporting my small cell results since 2000. And it was questions regarding my small cell experience that lead me to build my first tbh.

    >and want to buy new
    packages every 2 to 3 years?

    And quite to the contrary, since running small cell comb, I haven't had to buy a single package. In fact I don't have any empty equipment, but a surplus of bees. I've only lost 4 hives(queen problems)while overwinter a dozen or so over the last 7 years. And none of them have required any treatments. Honey production is slightly over twice the local average.

    Jim, you need to slow down and read all of my posts. I never said tbhs were "more productive". In fact, in my first post I said they were less productive on a per hive basis. But I said they could be more profitable. And certainly more suitable in some instances.

    It may be laughable to you Jim, because it's obvious you simply don't have any natural comb experience. And certainly not even any small cell experience.

    What I find laughable is the unbelievable difference between my beekeeping now and the way it was when I was doing it your way.

    >If even ONE point were valid, the
    idea/concept would have spread far beyond the
    fringe element that limits their bees to TBH
    enclosures.

    I don't expect any kind of majority of beekeepers to flock to these concepts. Because like you, they are following the big boys, thinking that because they are big they must be smart. But it's that thinking that got most beekeepers down the pesticide treadmill. And it's that thinking that has alot of beekeepers producing 90 cent honey in a 60 cent market. For a sideliner running a mini-commercial operation, it's probably closer to $4/lb. And it's that kind of thinking that keeps most beekeepers from really knowing their bees for themselves. Because they just don't understand that the big boys have neither the time nor the energy to really know very much about the bees. For them, comb is just something you stick in the extractor. And a hive is just something you stick comb in. And bees are just something you stick in the hive.

    For me, Im learning to work with my bees. My hives have never been more productive even with the extreme drought. And they have never required less management. And have never overwintered better. My queens last three years and I always have a surplus of bees. My greatest problem is swarming. And I don't treat or feed.

    For me, beekeeping has become a non-issue because most of those issues that keep you guys so engaged are now, simply irrelevant to my beekeeping.

    Regards
    Dennis

    [size="1"][ March 11, 2006, 12:07 PM: Message edited by: B Wrangler ][/size]

  14. #14
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    > the ones you've mentioned here had a decided
    > commercial interest in getting all those poor
    > backwards folks converted over to the modern way
    > of doing things. And I bet those folks were
    > prepared to sell a few more things their converts
    > couldn't live without than just Bee-Quick :&gt

    Now you are being insulting, you ill-informed redneck. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    The effort in Iran is funded by many agricultural
    assistance groups attempting to build a
    self-sufficient industry in Iran, so no one is
    getting rich at all. I'm also tossing in - the
    deal is that the first few thousand bottles of
    Bee-Quick are gratis, and even the shipping will
    be handled by an aid group, so it is a 100%
    no-cash deal.

    As elsewhere, late season harvesting can be
    a painful experience, as the bees get defensive,
    so the idea here is to reduce the need for
    bee suits, which are another expense that all
    concerned wish to avoid, hence an interest in
    the product.

    > just what has been your experience with natural
    > comb versus foundation based comb.

    I tried empty frames in brood chambers on and off
    for years, and I saw no big difference in speed,
    but I DID see more irregular comb when no
    foundation was provided. Regardless, for honey
    production, so-called "natural comb" is a burden
    that massively reduces crops of harvestable
    honey, a point which should be obvious to even the
    casual observer.

    > I'd still like to know how you can do it when
    > the big boys can't.

    I am a big enough boy to buy directly from the
    mill, no big feat given than the mill is owned
    by a buddy who likes his all-you-can-eat free
    honey.

    > an active imagination fueled by a combative
    > spirit?

    Sorry if you read my writing that way - I am
    simply poking fun at (and holes in)
    your fantastic claims about TBHs having some
    sort of advantages over any other sort of
    box for bees, and foundation being "bad" rather
    than "good".

    Its a BOX, get over yourself! The bees
    don't care what sort of box they are put into!

    > It's about bees drawing out comb their way
    > versus making them drawn it out the foundation
    > way.

    Pseudo-mystical new-age mumbo-jumbo. If you want
    to rant against foundation, you have an entire
    planet full of beekeepers to argue against,
    not just me.

    > I never said tbhs were "more productive".
    > But I said they could be more profitable.

    I can't see much profit in an operation where
    the bees must draw out each comb on every
    flow. Where I come from, we call that "comb
    honey", we use Ross Rounds, and it goes for
    a serious premium over extracted honey.
    You are trying to produce extracted honey
    with costs that are as high as a comb honey
    producer!

    > because it's obvious you simply don't have any
    > natural comb experience.

    Not true... I did not like what I got when leaving
    the bees to their own devices. Foundation gives
    me (and the overwhelming majority of beekeepers)
    more predictable results, which is why its use
    is so popular, even if the alternative is "free".

    > And certainly not even any small cell experience.

    Ah, no... I just fund studies so that
    those more qualified than I can do the actual
    work, and thereby instruct me without my wasting
    my time.

    Look, if you are right, the world will beat a
    path to your door, and throw themselves at
    your feet. Don't hold your breath, because I
    see the exact opposite trend in places where
    TBH and other "primitive" methods have been
    replaced by "modern" methods, and created an
    EXPORT CASH CROP where before, there was only
    subsistence beekeeping.

    So, do what you want, but realize that getting
    rid of "traditional" mindsets can make the
    difference between grinding poverty and a little
    actual folding money for folks who have very
    little folding money.

  15. #15
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    im not sure that a tbh is all that primative compared to a lang. simpler and more enjoyable to work maybe-kinda like my vw micro bus.
    i can see were tbh hives could give some folks much more control over their operation,hence more sustainability. were ya gonna get foundation? who owns the extracter? if some one with capital comes into an area with to efficient an operation it could disrupt what little the have nots already control. the rich do tend to get richer, the poor poorer. modern methods could bring in laws like you must use movable frame hives or be an outlaw. that would be pretty sweet for the supplier but rough on the farmer. ive read that some places want wax over honey. tbh's are good for that. some areas work ahb's. ive never been around ahb's but cranky italians sure are easier to work in a tbh.
    all that is gold does not glitter

  16. #16

    Post

    "(...)Rural extension programs, whose thrust is usually developed in urban, national headquarters by personnel who have little field experience, often attempt to encourage "modern" equipment, meaning Langstroth hives (the KTBH is, in fact, about 100 years more modern as Langstroth made his discovery of the bee-space and incorporated it into his hive design in 1851(3)). The misguided rationale is, "If they use 'em in the U.S. they must be the best". However, cultural and environmental conditions call for beekeeping of a substantially different flavor from that familiar in North America. The promotion of Langstroth equipment and all its accoutrements is often inadvisable because economic resources at the rural level are at a much higher premium than manual labor. Often what is warranted in developing, tropical countries is another technology, one that is easier to use and less costly to obtain and maintain. Such a system is available in the Kenya top-bar hive.

    To illustrate, the price of a honey extractor can easily exceed the yearly income of a rural farmer. (For instance, in Paraguay, from whence I write, a brand-name extractor costs the equivalent of almost three hundred dollars <$275.00> , a simpler locally made model can be had for about sixty <$60.00> ; nonetheless a field laborer earns only about a dollar per day and most small-scale farmers earn less than two hundred dollars <$200.00> annually.) I have encountered countless small-scale beekeepers who prefer cutting the comb from the frames rather than investing in an extractor-- which effectively invalidates any advantages that the Langstroth system has over the KTBH.(...)"

    It would bee good to reed this entire article: "The Kenya Top-Bar Hive as a Better Hive in Developing Countries". Conrad Berube. American Bee Journal. August 1989.

    Go to Google and punch "Conrad Berube". You will find this article, and a lot on this subject.

    Wojtek

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Boonsboro, MD, USA
    Posts
    67

    Post

    Last spring when I returned home from a trip I saw a swarm in a tree in my front yard. One of my TBHs had swarmed. I ran back to my shed, cut up a pallet and some scrap wood, ripped some top bars out of pallet wood and scrap plywood with a circular saw, and built a TBH. I stole a comb of brood and eggs from another hive and put it in my new box. I caught the swarm and put it in the box. All this took about an hour. The hive is not pretty, but it worked and I harvested honey from it last year. It is still going strong.
    Maybe I can't pretend to be a commercial beekeeper and dream of getting rich off my bees. But I have a lot of fun working with them, watching them work my garden and fruit trees and eating their "surplus" stores. I get a lot of joy out of cutting out a crooked piece of comb and sharing it with my daughter while I work the hive. I don't wory about contamination in my wax or honey as I don't put anything in my hives except bees.
    As I keep bees for my own enjoyment, and give my extra honey to friends and family, or trade it. I don't care about lb/hive efficiency. I know my bees are a pleasure to work and my hives look cool (even the quick built one looks good now that I painted it). I get enough honey to suit my needs and require no specialized equipment other than a smoker.
    I am lazy. I have a real job to pay my bills. I love holding a freshly drawn comb and looking at its organic shape. My kids like to work the bees with me.
    TBH beekeeping is the way to go for me, and I bet many others would like it as well.
    I also bet (know) that many people see it as primitive, silly, or just a waste of time. I don't care. To each his own.
    I am a biologist, some of the time I do field work, the rest I spend on a computer, or in a lab beeing utterly anal retentive, measuring things with rediculous precision. When I get home I want to relax. During the spring and summer my biggest worries with my bees are that maybe I have not harvested enough honey from one of the hives and and the hive will fill up and swarm when I am not there to see it.
    I am learning to deal with the stress. Chewing a nice fresh piece of comb still warm from the hive helps.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Hiram, Northeast Ohio
    Posts
    731

    Post

    Jim all Dennis is saying on the bottom line is that there are somewhere between "some" and "a lot" of situations where TB may be a better way to go for people. He isn't disputing that lang populations may be higher or that a given bee in a lang produces more honey and less wax than a TBH bee. But in some situations, that kind of efficiency is going to be more important and in others less so. Dennis is suggesting that under some circumstances and levels of production, TBH are more capital efficient. And he is especially identifying the sideline business as one possible case of this.

    I think one thing that would affect the equation would be hive density. If you aren't approaching maximum density, exanding the number of cheap TBH's to increase production is viable. If you want to run as many bees as as a given forage area can support, and you want all that production going into honey, it seems to me that langs with reused comb fit that bill exclusively. But there will be more costs associated with running this way, both initial and ongoing, and thus there will be more risk and more reward. This is inherent in requiring a higher capital invesment, which I think you will agree lang keeping does require, at least to some extent. Jim it almost seems like you are kind of acting like we shouldn't regard the capital problem. If capital wasn't a problem though, would beekeeping really be the most viable option for an investment anyway? I don't know, but it's something to ponder.

    The only other thing I'll comment on is the question of how quickly bees draw when they are building from the leading edge versus building up on foundation. I have to say it definitely seems my topbars get completed faster in equal conditions. But on the other hand, it seems the foundation may have multiple large portions where the cells are drawn half high, and things start happening there (egg laying, etc.) long before they reach depth. That isn't the way the foundationless comb develops. It seems there is less urgency and less of a "whole group" effort in wax drawing on foundation--perhaps because they can get to other things quicker on the foundation. There may be no real way to compare what is overall more efficient for the bees on the first draw. Clearly, in succeeding stages a lot of nectar is going into wax instead of honey in a TBH, and while wax has a market value too it is usually not a good equation there.
    It\'s people! Soylent Green is peeeeople!

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    88

    Post

    Dennis has a great site. He speaks from personal experience and personal research. I'm going tbh this year. Thanks Dennis! TBH ROCKS, ask K. Ruby.
    What are we, men or Beekeepers?

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Kernersville, N.C.
    Posts
    110

    Post

    Hey, Dennis!

    Pass the Kool-Aid! I love my TBHs.

    As far as productivity-- who cares? If I were commercial or sideline, I would care and would use standards.

    I kept bees in the 60's, in Langs, for maximum production. They worked.

    Now< i want the least amount of sweat and lifting possible with the greatest chance of disease and mite resistance. TBH work.

    The economics and production part of the argument bring to mind two of my neighbors. One farms 350 acres of corn and beans with some dairy. The other farms 5 acres of organic vegetables with some value added stuff. Mr. 350 acre is financially insolvent ready to sell his family farm. Mr. 5 acres is making a reasonable living and has 0 debt. Mr. 350 acre produces far "more" product, but Mr 5 acre makes a very good "return on investment".

    Why sell 60 cent honey when you can sell $5.00 honey?

    Thanks Dennis for your website. About 25% of your hits have come from me.

    Did I say I love TBH?

    Regards,
    Miles

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