I start with 10 brood bars and wait until they switch over to honey as Michael has suggested. In the 2nd year, you feed empty brood bars into the center early on so they build nice brood comb. Once they stop building brood comb, stop feeding them the bars. In the 1st year you will only get 4-8 good brood combs with a package (swarms are different story), and the 2nd year you can build that up to between 8-15 brood combs. In a top bar hive, the bees will put more honey above the brood chamber than in a lang because in a lang, ALL the honey is above the brood chamber. So you want to have more brood combs than you would have in a lang, so you want to have a few more brood combs than in a lang. They won't necessarily use them all once you have developed the large nest, but at least you have a well developed nest you can refine as you work culling and moving back old or poor combs. They might fill some with honey, but that's ok, the point is to have the comb available to them when they need it. You see not all bees will use the nest the same way. Some colonies will only have an few inches of brood in the bottom and have a long brood nest, some will have a few inche diameter snake running through the middle, and some will fill combs with brood only putting an inch of honey above. So you want to develop a large brood nest so that when your bees settle down the way THEY want to, they'll have plenty of brood room to use whether its 8 wall to wall brood combs, or 15 mixed honey on top brood on the bottom of the nest type arrangement.
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>