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  1. #1

    Default a few questions about top bar hives.

    I haven't any real experience beyond seeing many videos and reading many sites regarding top bar hives.

    I have a few questions if anyone would help me out a bit.

    1) How large a colony can a top bar hive sustain? I understand it is less than a langstrom, but is it half, 2/3, any ideas?

    2) Anyone in the Nebraska area with top bar hives might be able to help me with this one. Is there any advantage, disadvantage, suggestions on using a screened bottom on a top bar hive? I am thinking if one does used a screened bottom, it should have a solid board to fit in place for over-wintering purposes.

    3) Because top ba hives hold smaller colonies than Langstrom, is the colony at more risk of not surviving over-wintering due to less mass/bees to help?

    Big Bear

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Bozeman, MT, USA
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    15

    Default Re: a few questions about top bar hives.

    Bush Farms is a great resource. I also believe he has hive experience in Nebraska. Hopefully you can get some good info from his page and he was also kind enough to give me a quick reply or two to some emails I sent him. Hope that helps.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    dallas, tx, usa
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    523

    Default Re: a few questions about top bar hives.

    Bush is the man in Nebraska. The open secret about top bars is that they are not as productive, and are a pain to work. Bees want to move UP, not SIDEWAYS.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Frisco Texas
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    168

    Default Re: a few questions about top bar hives.

    I do not find my top bar any harder to work then my lang. As for the number of bees it depends on the size of your top bar.

  5. #5

    Default Re: a few questions about top bar hives.

    Another question I have is does a top bar hive draw or attract less mice, etc.. to the area as it ( and it's entrance) sit higher off the ground?

    Big Bear

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Bozeman, MT, USA
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    15

    Default Re: a few questions about top bar hives.

    Quote Originally Posted by bigbearomaha View Post
    Another question I have is does a top bar hive draw or attract less mice, etc.. to the area as it ( and it's entrance) sit higher off the ground?

    Big Bear
    Most TBH I have seen are top entrances 3/8" wide, and quite a few are up on legs. Generally speaking those two things on any hive decrease mice. Getting ride of a landing board (aka mouse ladder) and going to top entrance has that as an advantage for sure.
    "Only be sorry for the things you can't change." -Me
    -p -> -q "Don't Be sorry for the things you can change" -Me

  7. #7

    Default Re: a few questions about top bar hives.

    Well, I can see those things diminishing the probability of mice, etc.. being able to get in, but will the scent, presence, etc.. draw their attention any more or less? Does being so high allow the scent to be not as strong so as to catch notice?

    Big Bear

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN
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    11

    Default Re: a few questions about top bar hives.

    Scent rises in the day w/the heat and sinks at night in the coolness. Mice have pretty good sniffers so I would guess they can easily smell a hive from a distance let alone a few feet off the ground. My TBHs are next to my field of wildflowers, which has mice, and I haven't had a problem yet. One's about a foot off the ground on blocks, the other is 2' up on legs. I have more problems with the !@#$ birds snatching my bees out of the air!

    Opossums also live around my house/yard and so far they've left the hives alone, too.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Slovenia
    Posts
    325

    Default Re: a few questions about top bar hives.

    Quote Originally Posted by mythomane View Post
    Bush is the man in Nebraska. The open secret about top bars is that they are not as productive, and are a pain to work. Bees want to move UP, not SIDEWAYS.
    Pain to work ? You worked with TBHs and found them pain to work with ?

    If I compare my TBHs to my frame hives it is the other way around.
    As far as honey goes. As with frame hives it is all in manipulation.
    Sig

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Monroeville Pa
    Posts
    188

    Default Re: a few questions about top bar hives.

    No frames, no extractor, no chemicals, no pests. First year beek with top bar, no local mentor, no previous experience, lots of rain, cool weather and found the simplicity is beautiful. Love my bees, top bars cost less, build your own easily and fall in love.

  11. #11

    Default Re: a few questions about top bar hives.

    Yet another question. this could actually apply to any hives, but, concerning wax moths, etc.. would building the hive out of cedar have a demonstrable impact in repelling moths and other unwanted problems while not bothering the bees?

    Big Bear

    OK, found my answer on another forum, apparently, wax moths don't seem to be affected by cedar. bummer.

    Big Bear

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Sebastopol, Ca.
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    307

    Default Re: a few questions about top bar hives.

    Pain to work? No. Easy to manipulate. All the gear is on one floor, and light, as long as you don't lift the whole hive.

    Difficult to work? Yes. One really has to KNOW bees and their ways and cycles to get good production over time. But that is only when you want honey. If you want bees and NOT be a "bee haver" but a bee keeper, then they are very interesting.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Lincoln,Nebraska,USA
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    204

    Default Re: a few questions about top bar hives.

    I live in lincoln and Michael Bush lives in Greenwood we both have TBHs and what I have learned has been from Michael mostly and anything that I could find to read. The most important advice I have gotten was to keep the brood nest open by inserting empty bars between combs no more than one between or there may be to much space and they may make a mess. By inserting one they make straight comb and will not be so quick to swarm They tend to crowd real easy because they will only make there brood nest so big then they set up to swarm but by inserting empty bars in the brood nest they think they have room as the brood hatches out on theouter comb they fill it with honey by putting empty bars in the brood nest you also work the older comb out and you always have clean wax for the eggs to be laid in so no chemical build up in the comb. Also part of your winter prep should be to put all brood at one end of the hive and all the honey at the other end so they move in one direction and do not get seperated from there food supply during a sudden cold snap you see some times they put the brood nest in the middle of the hive and then come winter move in one direction and when they get to the end they will not move to the other end to get to the other half of there stores then they starve By shuffling the frames around so the brood is at one end this is eliminated. They are more work in some ways but for some reason I find them more relaxing to work. Mice are no more problem with tbhs than langs my langs have 3/8 wide entrances on them no mice. My tbhs have three holes about midways of the hive and put on 12 inch blocks stacked 2 high on each end no mice there either this also puts them at a very convenient height for working them. Hope this helps and if you have not joined the Nebraska Beekeepers Association you should think about it there are some of us that have TBHS and love to talk about them not to mention all the experiance of all the people within the association And MB is at most of the meetings since he helps set up the programs we have at our meetings.

  14. #14

    Default Re: a few questions about top bar hives.

    Thanks for all that info.

    Someday I will attend a nebraska beekeepers meeting. I don't get to travel a lot and so my ability will be limited.

    Micheals website has been bookmarked and gone through so often even the web pages are tattered. heh heh.

    as soon as I get a new home for the apiary, I will be able to do a whole lot more more and maybe get an excuse or two to maybe bump into a Micheal Bush or yourself someday.

    Big Bear

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Belfield, North Dakota, USA
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    616

    Default Re: a few questions about top bar hives.

    Does anyone know the answer to original question #3?

    3) Because top bar hives hold smaller colonies than Langstrom, is the colony at more risk of not surviving over-wintering due to less mass/bees to help

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Sebastopol, Ca.
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    307

    Default Re: a few questions about top bar hives.

    Quote Originally Posted by NDnewbeek View Post
    Does anyone know the answer to original question #3?

    3) Because top bar hives hold smaller colonies than Langstrom, is the colony at more risk of not surviving over-wintering due to less mass/bees to help
    I know you wish an answer that will satisfy the trepidation we all share, but none will be forthcoming. One can have a ton of bees and if the queen is weak.....one can have a nuc that will survive Nebraska winters.....one can have a hive about the right size...etc.
    When dealing with wild creatures, we can't know for sure. That being said....It is a statistical game that if you have a larger hive then more bees, numerically, will be able to make it to the honey storage area of your hive to feed the queen and attendants and warm the area they are in.....no pat answers....wild life......!

  17. #17

    Default Re: a few questions about top bar hives.

    theoretically, Top bar hives, I am learning, should winter at least as well as a typical Lang hive, depending on the bees, perhaps better, provided the bee handler keeps an eye on things and 'facilitates changes from fall to winter.

    By being able to use follower boards and manipulating the placement of top bar brood/honey locations, a TBH should be able to 'shrink' to allow less required distance between brood and resources, keeping a smaller area for them to eat and less distance to get and transfer food.

    Also, depending on the bees you are using. Carniolans drop population in the winter slow down brood creation and thus require less in stores use of food overwinter. some might say ideal for TBH.

    Big Bear

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Portland, OR, USA
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    642

    Default Re: a few questions about top bar hives.

    Quote Originally Posted by mythomane View Post
    Bush is the man in Nebraska. The open secret about top bars is that they are not as productive, and are a pain to work. Bees want to move UP, not SIDEWAYS.
    My top bar hives this year have been more productive and easier to work than my framed/foundation and vertical hives.

    Matt

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    McLean County, Illinois
    Posts
    166

    Default Re: a few questions about top bar hives.

    Quote Originally Posted by mythomane View Post
    Bush is the man in Nebraska. The open secret about top bars is that they are not as productive, and are a pain to work. Bees want to move UP, not SIDEWAYS.
    Some would argue that based on their experience and observations of feral nests that if given a choice, bees will start at the top and continue to build downwards. If they are obstructed from building downwards, they will then go horizontal.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    dallas, tx, usa
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    523

    Default Re: a few questions about top bar hives.

    -> "bees will start at the top and continue to build downwards"

    What did you think I meant when I stated that they move up? They move to the top.

    -> "My top bar hives this year have been more productive and easier to work than my framed/foundation and vertical hives."

    Well, good for you. You are extracting from comb in these top bar hives or crushing and straining? Are you figuring in this extra work? What is your honey production for a year in total on average? What is the comparison between these two hives in honey production? How long have you been keeping bees like this side by side? You say its easier? Because you don't have to lift a box?

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