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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2005


    Here’s my question about TBHs, the number of top bars and the size of the box.

    The combs in the hives I’m presently using are about 16 inches across at the top and just about 12 inches deep. I’m using an average of 35 top bars for each hive. Many times I get between 20 and 25 with brood (sometimes even more). The rest of the bars will get filled with honey comb. Sometimes the boxes get completely full so even using several more bars might be useful. My boxes are more or less four feet long. They are all trapezoidal-shaped Kenyan TBHs.

    One of the problems I see at times, mainly between the honey flows and right at the end of the honey season, is that the bees will only seal off half of some (or many, depending on the hive) of these honey combs. The bottom half of the cells remains opened up (with half-ripe honey or nectar probably).

    I usually wait to harvest a comb until they are just about completely sealed off (at least 75 to 80 percent). I want to make sure the honey is ripe. But at the same time I sometimes want to harvest these half-sealed-off combs. I want to keep the honey from one type of flower separate from the next (not mix honeys from different flowers in the same comb). Other times I want to pull honey out earlier than the other beekeepers in the area while there is a bigger demand for it. Other times I want to pull more of the last honey and not leave it for the bees¬óbuying sugar during the dearth can be cheaper and many of the brood combs have a nice piece of sealed honey at the top anyways.

    One idea I have is to make the box shallower, maybe only 8 or 9 inches (while keeping the top comb width at 16 inches--maybe?). The bees might seal off a comb this deep a lot faster. The potential problem is that I would probably have to have about 45 to 50 top bars. That’s going to make for a long hive—maybe five feet or so. But I would need it to be that big—the bees down here will fill it up.

    Does anybody out there have experience in managing a TBH that is this long? Has anybody seen any difference between managing a shorter but deeper TBH compared to a shallower but longer TBH? What could some of the pros and cons be with these two hives? Does at least 75% to 80% of the comb sealed off sound right for harvesting? Do you think the bees will move through and effectively work a hive this long?

    Comb breakage with a deep TBH might be one negative factor but so far it hasn’t been that much of a problem for me. Most of the hives are in the shade. Broken combs are usually my fault, they don’t fall naturally.

    Thanks for any feedback. I appreciate it.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA


    All my TBH's are 48 3/4" long. The KTBH is 15" across the top and 10" deep. The TTBHs are a standard medium only 33 bars long. So they are 19 7/8" wide and 7 1/4" deep (6 5/8" plus some space for the "bottom board")

    >75% to 80% of the comb sealed off sound right for harvesting?

    I think that depends on your climate. Here that would probably work.

    >Do you think the bees will move through and effectively work a hive this long?

    It takes some manipulation to get them to use the whole box. I have to feed empty bars into the brood nest to get them to expand the brood nest to get enough bees to fill the box. If I get lazy and don't keep up with them they will swarm instead.
    Michael Bush "Everything works if you let it." 42y 40h 39yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Chapel Hill, N.C.


    I have a few Ukrainian hives that are5 & 6 feet long and 12+" deep and it took quite a bit of manipulation to fill them up essentially doing as M.B. said and rotating in bars for brood nest and using cardboard follower boards.
    Oh, and I have to swindle friends into moving these monsters.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    HillsBorough, NC


    tarheel bee, you have a standing offer to help from your Ukranion hives are full ?

    Just added bar #8 in the TBH you prepared for me, did not put in brood nest, should I go back tommorrow and relocate it ?

    Good to know you are still alive.!
    Wayne - KA4ANQ

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    San Jose CA


    Hi Tomas,

    Adapting the KTBHs you've got instead of building new longer ones would be less work in two ways: the building exercise and the fact that, as Michael said, the longer you make your hive the more manipulation you will have to do.

    Instead of new KTBHs, why not make a few shallow TTBHs with the same size top bars to use as supers?

    Leave a gap between the first top bar and the entrance wall and sit the TTBH on top. The foragers can choose to come in the entrance and go up or make their way to the back of the KTBH. The queen is unlikely to go up into the TTBH since it is rare to find brood in the front of the first comb where access to the top is located.

    You can use a partial top to cover the back of the KTBH, and when you want to gather honey you can select your combs from the KTBH back or the TTBH on top. Some hives will use the TTBH for primary honey storage, and others will prefer to fill out the back of the KTBH.


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