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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    180

    Question

    I have just started keeping bees recently. I have kept bees before in Langstrtoth hives, but not Topbar hives. It seems that many people claim that Langstroth hives are more productive than top bar hives. I don't see any reason that would prevent topbar hives from being any more or less productive than langstroth hives. (I also am just a beginner.) So what are the reasons for these claims about Langstroth hives being more productive?

    Take this scenario for example: You start with two packages of 3 pounds of bees each, and place one in a langstroth and one in a top bar hive. You treat each hive exactly the same way. At the time of the honey harvest shouldnt the results be about the same for both hives?

    A better experiment would be to put 5 packages in langstroth and 5 in topbar hives. That way you would get a better average.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Grifton, NC
    Posts
    1,302

    Post

    One problem I see with TBH is that bees tend to want to expand their space vertically, not horizontally. I suppose if they have no choice they will expand horizontally. Another is how to how to harvest honey as the TBH frames don't work so well for extracting.

    I think the ideal environment is the hollow tree trunk, but unless someone can come up with a vertical hive with moveable frames that work easily, the LH is the most practical. If I had to start over, I'd probably go 8 frame equipment for the compactness of it. I still may do 8-frame with any expansion for next year. I do plan to try a TBH just for the experience of it.
    Banjos and bees... how sweet it is!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Casper, WY
    Posts
    526

    Post

    Hi Guys,

    The bees will expand a broodnest, either horizontally or vertically, without any problems.

    What reduces a tbhs productivity when compared to Langs is the total lack of vertical management above the broodnest. When the bees get ready for winter, they pack the area directly above the broodnest(food above their winter cluster area) leaving any extra food in the honey storage area. Once that area is full the bees reduce their activity and get fat for winter.

    In a tbh, the bees will quickly reach that condition. And the honey in those combs can't be harvested above the broodnest, no matter how tall they are.

    In contrast, a Lang hive, with it's vertical management potential, can keep the bees packing the area directly above the broodnest when empty supers replace full ones.

    I've got a more detailed account of broodnest structure and behavior I've call "Nest Function and Form" at:

    www.bwrangler.com/bee/sbro.htm

    It's about half way down the page.

    Regards
    Dennis
    Last edited by D. Murrell; 11-07-2007 at 07:42 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Kernersville, N.C.
    Posts
    110

    Post

    Samak,

    I use both styles of hives in my small yard.

    As Dennis has stated, the vertical Langstroth arrangement is by far the most productive (honey). If I were a trying to make a living with bees, Langs would be my choice.

    I am a hobbyist, though, and maximum honey production is not my goal.

    My preference of the two styles, though is the TBH for these reasons.
    1. They are cheap to build. I build them from scrap.(Can't beat free) A complete Lang setup is $150 - $200.00.

    2. Using TBH, all of my equipment stays in the field. (My basement is alot neater without all the boxes with drawn comb stacked around in garbage bags with PDB in them).

    3. TBH require NO heavy lifting. (Go ahead, ask my wife. I AM LAZY!)

    4. I can work them with little or no smoke, which allows me to go in as often as I wish. With Langs, you have to tear the beehive up to get to the bottom of things.

    5. The bees don't care which style box they're in. The TBH IMHO is a healthy way to keep bees(natural comb, small cell, clean comb etc. Whether it's healthier than the Lang, I don't know, but our TBH are 3 years without chems.

    6. I like the extra wax the TBH produce and I don't need an extractor.

    These are some of my reasons for favoring TBH.

    The question is, though, what is your ultimate goal(s) in keeping bees? Your equipment choice will be dictated by your answer.

    Regards,
    Miles

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Pineville Missouri
    Posts
    222

    Post

    TBH's make new comb on every TB (Honney = wax).Naturaly using foundation you'll get more honey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,113

    Post

    If you have the time to treak things all the time, I think you can get the same amount of honey from either. But you can't get it for the same number of trips to a beeyard. With a Langstroth you can pile on the supers at the first of June and come back in the fall and harvest. With a top bar hive that would not produce very much honey. But if you worked at keeping the brood nest expanded and harvested periodically to keep an open space for storage, I think you could get the same amount. I've often gotten more from a long hive. But I sometimes put supers on too.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beeshorizontalhives.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Casper, WY
    Posts
    526

    Post

    Hi Guys,

    There are reports that tbhs will equal or out produce Langs. Most of these are in climates without much winter.

    This year, my best producer was a tbh. I've posted (in the bio forum, I think) the circumstances involving this hive and some comments on the importance/effects of collective decisions hives make.

    Until this year, my combo hive (long hive with supers) had always been my best producer.

    There are so many variables concerning production. Pounds per hive is almost a meanless figure. I think a better measure might be cost/lb. But all that really doesn't matter much for a hobbiest like myself as one or two hives produce far more honey than I want. If I wanted more, I just add another hive.

    Regards
    Dennis

    Regards
    Dennis

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,113

    Post

    My most productive hive this year was a horizontal medium with half foundationless and half PermaComb with four supers on top of that at one end.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9

    Post

    So what's wrong with supering a TBH (other than some limits on how much weight you can pile onto the box)?

    How many of you have supered one- I didn't get a chance to this year, but really want to try it next year.

    Mark
    urban top bar hives in Oakland and Berkeley, CA...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Helsinki, Finland
    Posts
    597

    Post

    The hive type is not a base of productivenes.

    The queen lays eggs and I hope that it makes a bigg hive.

    Good pastures give the yield.

    I have seen that smalles hive gives more honey on good pastures that good hives on poor pastures.

    Hive sites may be 3 miles and yield differences may be 3-5 fold.

    Hive furnitures means only rational handling and expanding the hive.

    .

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Helsinki, Finland
    Posts
    597

    Post

    .
    When you harvest you honey by crushing combs you will loose 50% of your yield by this method. It is same if yuo produce comb honey.
    .

  12. #12

    Post

    I disagree about losing yield through crushing- I think manual-cranked extractors leave far more honey behind than is left behind when I crush.

    It sounds like maybe you mean to say that it gives less productive hives because the bees need to rebuild the comb, which many people agree with.

    Mark
    urban top bar hives in Oakland and Berkeley, CA...

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