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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Nevada County, CA
    Posts
    1,083

    Post

    Empilolo

    Thank you for your comments. I am actually going to experiment with both the Langstroth and the Kenya type top bar hives this year. My main objective is to transition to small cell and natural cell with about fifty hives while keeping a few conventional colonies for pollination. The reason I am going to start out with frames is to allow me to move my bees from their existing frames with their wax contaminated by years of treatments on to their own untreated comb. By sloping the sides of the frames I hope to be able to move the bees and brood to the new hive configuration and put the old comb above an older unregressed hive to be cleaned before I remove the old wax. Then I can clean the frames and let them build new comb. MB and others have suggested elswhere in this thread that the sloped sides make it easier to remove the frames without damageing them. The complete four sided frames will only be used for the transitional phase.
    I will probably only use one or two of these in each hive between the standard Langstroths and the true top bars and by the time the main honey flow is over I expect to have all the colonies moved to more permenant TB hives and the original frames ready to use the next year.

    Stangardener
    I'm playing with the idea of making the transitional frames in such a way that they are in contact all the way around thus eliminating the need for an insert. I think if I can get the bees to limit their comb to these frames and move the frames so they are always in the middle of the brood chamber, the bees should keep the rest of their comb shaped in such a way that it will fit when I move the colony into a KTBH. If not, there is always the option of a knife or pair of scissors. Since none of my bees are regressed, I am hoping that using small cell starter strips will get them started with building smaller cells a little faster than the other options. It's too bad that the window for very active cell building is so short, and my age and health doesn't promise to give me too many years to accomplish this changeover, so my scheme is designed to try to cut about a year off the total regression. There used to be an old Farside cartoon with a dog working it's way through a forest and the caption "So many trees and so little time."
    doug

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    El Dorado County, CA
    Posts
    605

    Post

    i've only been involved with bees for two seasons now but i feel very fortunate that i started out with top bar hives. i learned very quickly that frames are not essential. i even moved my first year tbh's with out problems. that said i will and do use frames for foundation (small cell) and will purchase and not make frames when needed. i see frames as quite a good deal based on my present wood working skill.
    most of my hives were started as packages on top bars and now that they have done there first down size i'll feed in store bought frames with sc foundation.
    i do have five lc hives with dark, chemical ridden combs that i aquired late last year. this spring (middle of febuary first of march) i plan on transfering just the combs with brood into double deep long hives and feeding in just top bars. i've found the queen tends to lay in new comb and count on removing the old comb before the end of the season.
    so far i've only crushed and strained and plan on producing cut comb. if i relied on an extractor i might not be so cavalier about frames.
    all that is gold does not glitter

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    West Africa
    Posts
    46

    Post

    hope it is OK to add a post to this thread - I was away for the week attending a beekeeping workshop at Ijebu-Ode near Lagos.

    They are using standard KTBH and what they call "modified" Langstroth hives. These "modified" hives consist of a Langstroth type bottom board, hive body and cover, but with frameless topbars. No foundation, not even starter strips. Ridged top bars with gaps.

    They tend to simply place two empty "supers" in the bush and wait for swarms to move in. The bees, A. m. adansonii, tend to move into the upper box and start their broodnest there as well as some honey, later move to the lower box to store honey and fill that.

    Boxes with straight sides, but did not see any combs attached to the sides, neither brood nor honey combs.

    Measured honey comb (natural) cell widths, 4.6 mm. All hives opened appeared very healthy, did not observe varroa nor any SHB - only one beek out of about 20 complained of pests, apparently having SHB in one of his hives (weak hive) giving him problems. Bees vigorously attacked any small critters at the hive.

    The modified Langstroth hives are very popular with them (all new hives are the "modified" type) and I hate to admit this, they looked good in practice; strong and healthy. Time will tell and but I will make one or two myself for comparison later on.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Nevada County, CA
    Posts
    1,083

    Post

    Great information for those of us who are still playing with the idea of TBH. The modified Langstroth would certainly save a lot of time and trouble if there isn't much worrey about getting the comb in and out without damage.
    doug

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,311

    Post

    My concern has been that the bees would attach the comb from the top bars to the top bars of the bottom box. I assume they didn't? Or at least not enough to be a problem?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    West Africa
    Posts
    46

    Post

    The colony had been but recently established. The beek does not keep records and his information on when the swarm moved in was vague.

    The hive had around 20 bars per box. I counted ten frames raising brood. The colony appeared to be still building up - location at transition zone from forest to savannah. We are now in the middle of the dry season (Nov - Mar/Apr) which is the main flow period of that area.

    The box on top was full; brood and honey (some capped already) while they were just starting on the bottom box; they were building comb. All comb on bars that were removed were quite straight, minimal curving at the edges. No burr comb - no combs removed (5 honey, 4 brood) were attached to either sides or lower bars. Perhaps because the colony is still young.

    The top bars were all plain wood, flat V shaped with a "sharp" edge. No kerfs, no starter strips, not even rubbed with wax. The boxes are simple wooden squares, rabbeted on two sides to hold the top bars.

    Bees were "agitated" but not in attack mode; not chasing. Local practice is to do what needs doing in a calm manner, but without wasting time. Hives are opened as brief as is possible. Brood nests are normally left alone.

    Honey was harvested by simply cutting off the comb, leaving about 1 inch of capped comb on the bars and those bars were put back into the hive immediately.

    On top of the cover, underneath the metal sheet rain protection, was a big ant's nest. No sign of the ants "harvesting" from inside the hive - due to the hive being opened ants getting near the hive interior were vigorously attacked by the bees.

    Last but not least - one beek there has a hive at his house about 5 feet from the entrance gate of his garden. People pass the hive all the time, no attacking incident. Pure African Bees.

    Personal observation. To remove simple top bar comb - especially the first one - from these modified Langstroth hives is a bit tricky. Rather than rabbeting the boxes I intend to give it a try with square top bar hives, stackable in the Langstroth manner.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Indiana, Clay County
    Posts
    568

    Post

    empilolo:
    Your posts give perspective to me I sometimes lose, eventhough I am married to a wonderful asian woman from a poor country. Thank You and please continue posting.

    regards
    Brad

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,311

    Post

    I was thinking of playing with some square box, stackable top bar hives, but I doubt I'll have the time this next year. Maybe in another year or two...

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

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Blanco, Texas
    Posts
    74

    Post

    Where the top bars meet the hive body is an important thing. I have had really good luck just leaving the bars an hive body untouched (with sloped sides). The bars and body meet at a point. This makes the bars easy to remove because of little propolis build up.

    As to bees building comb all over the place in a foundationless langstroth hive... I suppose it can and will happen, but like a tbh once they get "on track" they usually stay that way. All of my bees seem to use the foundationless frames just fine with a very minimal amount of problems.

    I will post some pictures soon.
    Cheers
    Live Removals & Local Honey in Austin, Texas. www.austinbees.com

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    San Jose CA
    Posts
    164

    Post

    empilolo:
    > To remove simple top bar comb - especially the first one - from
    > these modified Langstroth hives is a bit tricky. Rather than
    > rabbeting the boxes I intend to give it a try with square top bar
    > hives, stackable in the Langstroth manner.

    How do you plan to stack without using a rabbet? The bees need space to move up the stack so the bars cannot be full width and a box sitting on top of spaced narrow bars will be like a sieve with an exit/entrance between every bar.

    Also, if these are top bars only and not frames, won't the bees build comb contiguously from bottom to top, incorporating the bar in a continious comb? They are unlikely to treat each set of bars as a floor not to be joined.

    Michael Bush:
    > I was thinking of playing with some square box, stackable top bar
    > hives, but I doubt I'll have the time this next year. Maybe in
    > another year or two...

    Slobodan Jankovic's site at http://www.pcela.co.yu/IndexE.htm has interesting information, and his description of Alpine hives (http://www.pcela.co.yu/alpine_hive_1.htm) has had me hooked for quite a while.

    No rabbet is one of the seldom mentioned benefits of a long hive (whether TBH or w/frames), it is so much easier to move combs around. So far have not embarked on building any yet because have not solved the puzzle of how to stack without a rabbet.

    JP

  11. #31
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    West Africa
    Posts
    46

    Post

    How do you plan to stack without using a rabbet? The bees need space to move up the stack so the bars cannot be full width and a box sitting on top of spaced narrow bars will be like a sieve with an exit/entrance between every bar.
    The width of my topbars is 32 mm (I have a few 30 mm too) at both ends and for 50 mm towards the middle. Inbetween I reduce the width by 4 mm each side, so when you join them there is an 8 mm gap, while the ends close tight.

    Two sides of the box are higher by the thickness of the topbars on which the next upper box, resp. the top cover, rests. I shall draw this as soon as possible.

    Also, if these are top bars only and not frames, won't the bees build comb contiguously from bottom to top, incorporating the bar in a continious comb?
    Right, that is what I expected too. But they did not. Unfortunately, the hive is far away and the owner does not use the internet, so I cannot ask him whether they still continue to build "by the book".

    Anyway, I am going to try this and will build a hive as soon as I have a bit of spare time.

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