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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Dade County, MO
    Posts
    26

    Post

    Hi,
    I want to start beekeeping. A friend introduced my son and I to her bees during her first harvest. The bees were so mellow. (She has russians and NWC.) I had more of a problem dodging the red wasps than the bees.
    In researching small cell foundation, I came across TBHs. They really appeal to me, though not having done either method, I can't really explain why. One website didn't think it was for beginners.
    My question is: If I'm going to be learning as I go any way, why not learn on a TBH?
    I appreciate any thought,
    Jenn

    [size="1"][ November 26, 2006, 09:35 AM: Message edited by: Jenn ][/size]

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,593

    Post

    There is no particular reason that a TBH is best for beginners or best for experienced beekeepers. The fact is an experienced beekeeper will make more wrong assumptions about the TBH. Beekeeping is complicated no matter what you do. The biggest advantage to a standard hive is simply that the books are all written assuming that's what you have.

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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Dade County, MO
    Posts
    26

    Post

    I noticed you used both tanzanian and kenyan tbh. Do you prefer one over the other? Is the tanzanian like a lang with topbars? Could you use a lang with TB? Do you think an exact 120 angle would make a difference in attachments?
    If I do start with a TBH, how do I get my bees? Are there TBH nucs?
    Thanks,
    Jenn

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,593

    Post

    >I noticed you used both tanzanian and kenyan tbh.

    Yes.

    >Do you prefer one over the other?

    For me the Tanzanian is better simply because the medium frames will fit those hives also, so the combs are interchangable with my other hives and the long box can be used with either frames or top bars.

    > Is the tanzanian like a lang with topbars?

    Mine is.

    > Could you use a lang with TB?

    I think you need a horizontal hive to do well with top bars.

    > Do you think an exact 120 angle would make a difference in attachments?

    Scott McPherson does. I haven't seen any difference between a TTBH and a KTBH. I've played a little with the angle but haven't built a 120 degree angle on one. Mine is about 112 degrees. Since the bees are very inconsistent about the orientation of the cells, I see no reason to believe it will make any difference exactly what the angle is.

    >If I do start with a TBH, how do I get my bees?

    Packages.

    >Are there TBH nucs?

    Only if you build a Langstroth sized box. [img]smile.gif[/img]


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

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Indiana, Clay County
    Posts
    569

    Post

    Jenn:

    I am in the same boat as you. Every beekeeper here Indiana I talk to has a negative attitude towards TBH; also about everyone wants to sell me nucs and not packages ??? I just want 40lb or so of honey my first year. I like comb honey too.
    I also am getting conflicting reports on the ability of feral bees to produce honey /survive mites ????

    It seems to me that with TBH hives you sacrafice some honey production ( I dont know how much per hive, on average ) because the bees must produce the comb again, unlike Langs which reuse the comb.

    I am also getting conflicting reports on bees bred in Langs ( pures and crosses ) and their ability to convert to small cell TBH


    Good luck to both of us Jenn ; }

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Berkey, OH, USA
    Posts
    1,487

    Post

    Hi Spunky and Jenn

    I started beekeeping in Top bar hives in the spring of 2004. I built 3 for starters. I immediately decided beekeeping was for me! So within a month I bought / assembled 3 Lang hives.

    I do agree with Michael that experienced beeks are generally harder to convince that TBH's are ok. ANd it may be harder for them to go to TBH's.

    There is no reason why feral bees or bees from Langs will not make honey or work in TBH.

    What the bees will make in your tbh is natural cell comb. Some will be big and some will be small.

    I am sure you will eventually find some package bees or someone who will give you some. There are some Indiana classes coming up this winter in Indy. If you go to some of these classes I am sure you will be abel to find some sources for packages.

    It is a waste IMO to pay for a nuc and put the bees into a TBH.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Dade County, MO
    Posts
    26

    Post

    I want the wax almost as much as the honey, hence more productive for me.
    -Jenn

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
    Posts
    2,887

    Post

    "It is a waste IMO to pay for a nuc and put the bees into a TBH."
    I disagree:
    The comb can be cut from the frame and wired into the tbh. A beginner will have greater success with nucs as the bees have already accepted the queen and are less likely to leave the new hive. If you can find Nucs I say buy them; in the long run the cost will be less.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Berkey, OH, USA
    Posts
    1,487

    Post

    Bluegrass
    I think you are asking quite a bit from a beginning beekeeper to do that.

    Also if you are starting out with an empty new TBH and then wiring 4 or 5 frames of comb in, while it is possible to be done accurately there is a chance you could get the comb started out wacky and you would never be able to straighten it out.

    I have built some swarm catcher frames based on MB's for my lang hives. Those work well because you have a complete frame.

    But to wire in all that foundation to a top bar hive is I think asking for trouble with a newbee.

    Unless you are able to just use the frame complete or can carefully cut away the bottom and hope it holds, using the same top bar as the top bar. That way might work pretty good.

    And part of what you are paying for with a nuc is the frame, which you have now just destroyed. I respect your opinion but I felt I needed to answer because there are several newbees on this thread and they should understand the difficulty of what you propose.

    So I stand by my statement that it is better to use a package in starting up a TBH.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    NW Lower Michigan
    Posts
    59

    Post

    My motivation for starting with TBH's was monetary - I was able to build the hives myself with simple tools and inexpensive lumber. The start up costs with Langstroth hives is cost prohibitive, particularly when it comes to honey extraction. Now that I've found how much I enjoy beekeeping I may venture into traditional style hives eventually, in the mean time I have bees, honey and wax with very little invested.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Wakefield, MA, USA
    Posts
    224

    Post

    The cost difference between setting your bees up in a Langstroth hive is not that much, really. Build the boxes. Simple lids and floors. Frames are cheap to buy. And when it comes to processing the honey, well, that makes no difference. Comb honey is comb honey.

    I'd say that there are still distinct advantages to frame hives, especially for completely unexperienced beginners. The additional yields and convenience are apt to far outweigh any initial cost difference. The colony will develop faster. No top bars ripping off. No comb attachments, crossed, sagging or broken combs. No chunks of comb falling on your shoes on a warm day. No need for any extra caution when really getting in there and taking things apart to observe what's going on.

    For someone with zero experience, a TBH can present problems that could be discouraging. Once one gains familiarity with bee behavior, biology, nest construction and bee handling they are in better shape to use a TBH to its greatest advantage. Although I realize some raw beginners are able to have good luck with TBHs from the get go.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    NW Lower Michigan
    Posts
    59

    Post

    For an expierienced woodworker with a well equiped shop perhaps, but for someone like me who can't make dovetails and can't produce the tolerances needed for proper fitting frames (not to mention the cost of clear grade lumber) the TBH was a better choice. To each his own. My hives cost around $30 apiece, to purchase a Lang (no way could I build one) with supers, frames etc. is well over $100. As far as extraction, isn't that the point of a Lang - to increase yeild via reusable foundation and centrifugal extracting?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Wakefield, MA, USA
    Posts
    224

    Post

    For liquid honey, with an extractor, yes, the yields are increased with Langs by virtue of refillable combs. But of course Langs are also used for comb honey production (which is what you'd be doing when using a TBH). Keep the harvested combs for eating as is, or mash and strain the comb honey and bingo you've got beautiful extracted honey.

    The colonies are more productive in the Langstroths because of the increased number of worker cells (enabled by using full sheets of foundation in the brood nest, yielding a larger worker force) and also because of the vertical nest arrangement. As a rule, horizontal colonies do not expand and produce as well.

    If you can get a nice set of straight combs with a majority of worker cells built in your top bar hive the first season, then you are in good shape. The next year and subsequently the brood combs will be stronger and easier to manipulate. They aren't hard to deal with, then, and you'll get the hang of it anyway. Initially, always keep them 100% vertical when inspecting, and avoid working on any really warm days. A comb-cradle is a big help too. See
    http://www2.gsu.edu/~biojdsx/becomb.htm
    Jim's site also has info on using upper stories as honey supers on top bar hives.

    [size="1"][ December 27, 2006, 03:33 PM: Message edited by: JWG ][/size]

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