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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Posts
    288

    Post

    Hi,

    I've been browsing these forums a bit and I am in plans to build a highly modified top-bar hive based upon items available to me and some perceived strengths/weaknesses of both top-bar and Langstroth hives. Any input would be greatly welcomed.

    So, I had been planning on making about a 30-bar TTBH sized so that I can use the Langstroth frames I'll be getting. I like the top-bar feature of keeping the bees "in the dark", so I had been planning on designing so langstroth frames would fit in the hive with a top-bar affixed to the top of the Lang frame--basically, I'd be using the entire Lang frame as my "strip" beneath the top-bar. Lang frames would have all foundation removed, so like top-bar the bees would make their own cells. I thought this would provide the following advantages:
    1. More volume/surface area for brood and stores in the main box than with a ktbh because of the flat sides
    2. A frame to keep the comb from getting too "big" and breaking off under it's own weight, also to keep things straighter.

    This would then be essentially a 3-lang box for winter stores and brood, which should be a good amount for Wisconsin, I believe.

    In addition to the below, I would cut notched in all top bars say 2 inches long and 1,2 inch deep or so, to allow "bee space"; so the bees can freely travel between frames even if they bind them completely, but I can keep things covered in the part of the hive I"m not working by covering the notches with a simple strip of masonite or similar.

    When not supered, I would add a cover, propped on one end and with a overhang on that end, as the entrance. When supered, it would get another cover (raised a bit to allow bees to travel between the bars through the "notches")sized so that it butted against a super on one end (cover 2/3 hive length, super other 1/3.) The super would be a standard lang super with either lang frames or top-bars cut to fit again. To make bees "notice" the super, I would remove the end top-bar and this would be beneath the super. The new exit would be the top of the super itself.

    I thought this would let the bees build their own nest down below, and make it top-bar easy to look in on the hive one bar at a time with minimal disturbance, but still let me super like a lang, and work either frames or bars for supering, depending upon my needs. I would also be able to swap frame boards and purchase nucs, I'd have a large 3-deep brood chamber, and the bees would be able to readily traverse between the frames without major issues, but I wouldn't be "opening the whole hive" anytime I wanted to look in. Furthermore, I could stack multiple supers, or super both ends, and leave a super on in the winter if need be, like with a lang, but again still keep the top-bar ability to raise single combs for observation or harvest with minimal disturbance to the hive.

    Any merit in this idea at all? Michael, I believe you have fairly similar in your ttbh.....I just saw earlier limitations on top-bar hives including that "you can't super" and "you can't use lang frames"; this way you can do both. Is thsi a good idea, or am I better off just using langstroth or top-bar systems individually than mixing the 2?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Calgary
    Posts
    18

    Post

    hi-
    I've been working on something similar to what you've described. My "top bar hive" is really a version of a long hive in that, like you, I am using frames rather than just top bars, for the very reasons you stated. I would suggest that you use some kind of starter strip even with the frame to get the best chance of getting straight comb. My hives are 14 inches deep, as deeper, shorter hives are recommended for areas with short, intense honey flows. they will accomodate 28 top bars (frames).

    I will be getting nucs, so I'm building straight sides to accomodate Langstroth frames, and am building medium Lang supers for on top of the long hive, that I can use in my extractor.
    As Art Carney said, "Anything will work, if you let it"

    Regards
    John

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,584

    Post

    >2. A frame to keep the comb from getting too "big" and breaking off under it's own weight, also to keep things straighter.

    But you'll find they will not even attach the comb to the frame until it is finished. The LAST thing they will do is attach it to the frame after it has been drawn and filled and they run out of room.

    >In addition to the below, I would cut notched in all top bars say 2 inches long and 1,2 inch deep or so, to allow "bee space"; so the bees can freely travel between frames even if they bind them completely

    I don't follow. 2" deep? From where to where. If the notch is in the top bar the top bar won't be 2" deep will it?

    You could just use frames and make small "inner covers" that would cover a few frames at a time. Then you'd get the effect of not exposing the whole top at once.

    > but I can keep things covered in the part of the hive I"m not working by covering the notches with a simple strip of masonite or similar.

    But that's a lot of "simple strips" is it not?

    >Any merit in this idea at all? Michael, I believe you have fairly similar in your ttbh.....I just saw earlier limitations on top-bar hives including that "you can't super" and "you can't use lang frames"; this way you can do both.

    I do super and I can use Lang frames in my TTBH. I just prop the lid at the front for the entrance and when I add a super I prop the lid on the super so the entrance moves up to the super.

    > Is thsi a good idea, or am I better off just using langstroth or top-bar systems individually than mixing the 2?

    They mix fine if you make the right dimensions.

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

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Posts
    288

    Post

    Mike,

    Sorry--The notches would have been like 2 inches long, maybe 1/2 (missed the slash and put a comma in) deep (1/2 "into" the bar) similar to the ones here:
    http://www2.gsu.edu/~biojdsx/super.htm

    Note you'd also only need the one strip of masonite if all "holes" in top bars were in the same "row".

    If you don't do this, Michael, what to you do when YOU super to accomodate the bees? Just pull a bar out and leave the super on top of the "hole" with all other exits plugged besides the top of the super to force them through it?

    Would a few sections of sheeting, such as linoleum, 1/8 inch plywood, etc. work as well as top-bars in a lang-style hive to keep the bees "quiet"?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    Posts
    3,598

    Post

    I think I'd leave the frames as is so they could be interchanged into a lang hive, and if you want to have a solid top like with real topbars, do something like this

    http://www.beeequipment.com/products.asp?pcode=768

    just cover em with a towel or something
    interchangeability with lang equipment is a nice thing, you don't want to mess it up if you can help it
    here's a pic of mine

    http://www.drobbins.net/bee's/lh/lh.html

    Dave

    [size="1"][ February 01, 2007, 09:16 AM: Message edited by: drobbins ][/size]

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Dade County, MO
    Posts
    26

    Question

    If you didn't have any other lang equipment, would compatibility still be important? Or do you need or want compatibility with other beekeepers?

    [size="1"][ February 01, 2007, 12:37 PM: Message edited by: Jenn ][/size]

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    Posts
    3,598

    Post

    compatibility with others certainly isn't required but it's nice
    what if you want to buy or sell a nuc?
    maybe I want to give you a frame of eggs from my "super bees" so you can raise a queen from them?
    if you're going to go to the trouble to make standard frames "kinda" fit, why not make em fit?
    (did I mention that if you keep up beekeeping you'll most likely end up with some lang equipment? [img]smile.gif[/img] )

    Dave

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,584

    Post

    >If you don't do this, Michael, what to you do when YOU super to accomodate the bees? Just pull a bar out and leave the super on top of the "hole" with all other exits plugged besides the top of the super to force them through it?

    My entrances is through a top entrance on the lid and through the gap at the FIRST bar. When I add a super the entrance is still through the top, but now through the super, and still through the gap at the first bar. The bees have to travel THROUGH the super to get into the hive by the same gap they were already getting in through. I have been known to make a 1/4" gap now and them over the cluster to put on a pollen patty. I suppose if it was a main thoroughfare they may not fill it in with comb, but I haven't really done it for that reason. When I have pollen patties on they aren't drawing comb.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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