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  1. #1
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    Default People, a top bar hive?

    What is this, a revolution? A revelation. No, it's a de-evolution. Langstroth had a vision. With that vision came an explosion of portable, harvest-able bee hives. What you are talking about is stepping back a hundred years in time, for what? For being green? For being one with nature? Come on people. The good reverend Langstroth had a breakthrough. We could harvest honey without destroying a colony. We could inspect for disease without destroying a hive. We could move one frame of resources from one hive to maintain another. We could increase our hive number without relying on swarming. Again, a breakthrough. Why step back through time with equipment that is not readily available? What we need are some young eager beekeepers who have a beaten path to follow and a bit of drive. Give them a beaten path ahead, not behind. That alone will take beekeeping to the next level.
    Last edited by Barry; 11-20-2009 at 07:25 AM. Reason: profanity

  2. #2
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    Jul 2009
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    Chippew County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: People, a top bar hive?

    Not sure why all the frustration with the tbh. If someone just wants to have a couple hives to gather a little honey and have some pollenators around the why not have a couple tbh's. It can easily cost $300 or more for a full lang setup. For less than a hundred someone can have two or three tbh's.

    I would say though that once someone goes beyond a small hobby they should move to langs if they are not using them.

    Thats my opinion anyway.
    Last edited by honeyman46408; 11-20-2009 at 04:21 AM. Reason: Unnessary quote

  3. #3
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    Jun 2008
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    Portland, OR, USA
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    Default Re: People, a top bar hive?

    Oh my.

    Matt

  4. #4
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    Feb 2003
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    Lake county, Indiana 46408-4109
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    3,531

    Default Re: People, a top bar hive?

    What is this, a revolution? A revelation. No, it's a de-evolution.
    No it is a way some folks choose to keep bees, I for one don`t have a TBH yet but have thought about it I think it would bee another interesting way to enjoy the HOBBY
    Ed, KA9CTT profanity is IGNORANCE made audible
    you can`t fix stupid not even with duct tape

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Slovenia
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    325

    Default Re: People, a top bar hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by AllTek Bee Removal LLC View Post
    We could harvest honey without destroying a colony. We could inspect for disease without destroying a hive. We could move one frame of resources from one hive to maintain another. We could increase our hive number without relying on swarming.
    Actually everything you said can be done with TBH. I think you don't know what TBH is ? Do you ?
    There is no need to kill a colony to harvest, you can inspect it easily, you can move resources from one hive to another, etc.....so I don't know where you are getting with all this ?
    I think you mixed something up and made kind of a fool of yourself really...

    As far as equipment readily available. Well building TBH is much cheaper and take less time than building or buying LR.
    I have 5 hives for the price of one. I harvest as much as other beekeepers who use standard beehives.

    For stationary beekeeping in my climate TBHs are superior to standard hives in every possible way.
    Sig

  6. #6
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    Nov 2009
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: People, a top bar hive?

    I think AllTek makes a solid point. It would seem that a great advancement in beekeeping technology is being ignored by more and more people in favor of a technology it replaced.

    And that's just what is happening.

    But there are two real driving reasons for it:

    First - Money. That great technology you're talking about has evolved into a fairly expensive set of equipment. Because of the human need for money, there is also a fair amount of vested interest in existing technology, and thus a certain amount of misinformation designed to protect that industry. There's nothing evil about it, it's a natural part of human behavior.

    Second - CCD. With the recent crisis surrounding the Honey bee, people are rightly second-guessing just about every thing that has been long been accepted as "the best" way of doing things.

    Whenever there is an established industry, full of products that are all purported to be the latest and greatest in science and technology, it becomes more and more difficult to wade through all the 'expertise' and figure out anything for yourself.

    I used to keep bees when I was a kid with my Grandfather. I used to read his old books, and I thought I had a decent grip on what keeping bees required. Then I recently decide to get back into it, as I heard of the decline of the bee.

    Then, as I begin to look into the subject, I find that, like so many other things, it's become filled with plastic and styrofoam and substitutes. In light of CCD, I find that I just look at the whole thing as 'suspect' somehow. I'm questioning everything again.

    I guess I just feel like the realm of top bar hives - because the industry hasn't really adjusted to selling it to us - has still got some of that old spirit left in it. Something down-to-earth; built-in-the-barn; I don't know - I guess you could say 'natural'.

    And with the bees in the mess they're in, it seems like it's a good time to question the last hundred years of beekeeping, and to re-evaluate which steps where "breakthroughs"...

    ...and which were breakdowns.

    Adam

  7. #7

    Default Re: People, a top bar hive?

    First of all, not everyone has the same goals or intentions. Not everyone is out to be a record honey producer. For some, honey production is secondary, if not further down the interest chain.

    There is no rule or law stating that to be a beekeeper you must do everything the same way as everyone else.

    I haven't figured out yet if you're just here to stir the pot or really have such closed thinking.

    As has been suggested above, some would say there are several benefits top bar hives offer over Langs. Again, depending on their expectations.

    Have fun using your langs, Hope you have a good year.

    Big Bear
    No, I am NOT a bee "Keeper". Anything I post is just my opinion. Take it easy and think for yourself.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
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    2,134

    Default Re: People, a top bar hive?

    I now have four Langs, but I would not have started beekeeping if I had not discovered TBH's. The start up cost of Langs would have stopped me.
    TBH's can be an end in themselves, an alternative, or an adjunct to conventional beekeeping.
    Even though conventional wisdom says Langstroth hives make more honey this takes time when starting from scratch. This year starting my four langs I did a lot of beekeeping and harvested no honey. Last year I did less work and harvested over twenty pounds of honey from my TBH. Adrian.

  9. #9
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    43,610

    Default Re: People, a top bar hive?

    The only real down side to a top bar hive is you have to deal with it more frequently in order to manage it efficiently. But a new bee can't keep their hands off of it anyway, and if it's in your backyard, it's not much trouble. I wouldn't recommend them for an outyard, but they provide all the benefits of a movable comb hive with no lifting and, if you are handy and have some materials around, little work and no money.

    "The object of a Top Bar Hive (TBH) is to be easy and cheap to construct, easy to work and having natural sized cells. A Kenya style (sloped sides) is so that the combs are more naturally strong and less likely to break and collapse when they are full of honey. This hive worked very well with no comb collapses. The small combs are easy to handle and not nearly as fragile as large free hanging combs. The pictures are, from left to right"

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm

    Most of the above are also available in a long hive, including the not lifting, but it's not easy or cheap to construct as it requires more precise work. With foundationless frames in a Langstroth hive you'll get all of the above except the avoidance of lifting.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
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    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    9,183

    Default Re: People, a top bar hive?

    I consider the original post an example of trolling. "Do not feed the trolls"

    I would delete such a post, but there are already 9 replies and it stayed civil.
    Regards, Barry

  11. #11
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: People, a top bar hive?

    While it may have the potential to be contentious, I do think that it's a good thing to challenge all trends, as well as accepted norms and wisdoms. The greatest benefit of a forum like this is the sharing of perspectives across geography, preference and philosophy.

    As for 'trolling', there's really no need for anyone to get baited into getting upset. It happens too often, and kills the benefit of the discussion.

    Adam

  12. #12
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    Jun 2007
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    Slovenia
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    325

    Default Re: People, a top bar hive?

    One thing is challenging a trend....

    OP is full of "conclusion" that have nothing to do with TBHs really - such as :

    - destroying colony to harvest
    - unable to inspect
    - unable to "share resources" with other hives

    It is pretty obvious that AllTek have absolutely no idea what and/or how TBH looks. I think he has mistaken TBH for fixed comb hive. If not, well, then troll it is indeed.....
    Sig

  13. #13
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    Apr 2009
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    St Petersburg, FL
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    26

    Default Re: People, a top bar hive?

    What I see as the overwhelming drive toward the embrace of a TBH is cost. I agree that this is a huge consideration. Getting started in beekeeping is very difficult even for the truly dedicated. You have the cost of the bee suit, smoker, tops, bottoms, boxes and frames. The bees themselves are another expense. The last time I bought a package the price was climbing over $60 a 3lb package. And, of course, there is no guarantee of success. So I see the TBH as a low cost alternative to get initiated into the world of beekeeping. I also see advocates of this system as having the same goals as mine- getting new people interested and involved in keeping bees.
    Along those lines let me tell you how I became involved in beekeeping as a business, a sort of what not to do. When I first started beekeeping for profit I bought out a retiring beekeeper who ran 7 and 5/8 inch boxes exclusively. This was a calculated decision as I had read somewhere that the great Roger Morse, whom I respected and respect deeply, had done some research on optimal hive body space and concluded that the 7 and 5/8 inch 10 frame box was near the perfect dimensions. With this purchase I acquired 100 live hives and enough equipment to expand to 200 hives. In the first few years I did just that making a decision to make bees instead of honey, often sacrificing any honey crop in the name of expansion. I used this size box for both hive bodies and supers as I had concluded that an open brood chamber (no queen excluder) and free reign of the bees allowed great latitude in making splits and moving resources around. Then I hit a wall. The day came when I had split myself out of equipment. Where I lived (upstate NY) no one used this size. I had no readily available boxes or frames to purchase from anyone. So, I bought kiln dried white pine and started to make my own boxes and frames, this proved to be too costly, time consuming and difficult to keep up with. The bees suffered as I could not keep up with their demands for more equipment. Honey crops were lost due to a lack of supers. Ultimately I was forced to make a decision. I decided then to use the readily available 9 and 5/8 "deep" boxes. Again, several more years were spent in converting my system to deep boxes. Four years gone. I used the "standard" system of 9 and 5/8 inch brood chambers and 6 and 5/8 inch honey supers for many years after. However, I never felt during this period that this was the right setup-I had lost my ability to move frames freely throughout the system. Near the end of my beekeeping career I made a decision to go to 9 and 5/8 inch 8 frame hives for all of my hive body and super needs. I never did get the entire system converted to this setup but I still feel today that this is the perfect size box for all the bees and beekeepers needs (oddly similar in void space to the 7 and 5/8" ten frame box I had used). I stand by this statement today. This brings me to my point- if only someone had told me from the beginning what boxes to use I think I could have elevated myself into a much bigger commercial operation in a faster time. This information would have saved me many years in my learning curve. I might have, had things been different, continued to keep bees on a commercial level to this day.
    Now, I don't take for granted that not all of us have the goal of becoming commercial beekeepers. But we must, as a community, recognize the dearth that's being created by retiring beekeepers. There is simply no new beekeepers coming in to fill the void. And why would there be? The work is hard, the pay is abysmal, and there is a very real possibility of losing the majority of your hives in any given year. But we, the old guys (by old I mean experienced), the been there done that crowd, can smooth out the bumps a bit. We can lead the way. We can do this with knowledge and agreement. We simply cannot allow beekeeping for crop pollination and honey production to decline into history. If we do, then we must ask ourselves- where will the food come from? By making this knowledge available, and leading the way, maybe the hobbyist starting out today will become the commercial operator of tomorrow. And I just don't see how LHB can bridge this gap.
    But we still have to deal with the cost of starting in beekeeping, and I think we can do something about this too. Do you have any equipment laying around that you have not had a chance to repair? Are there any old smokers hanging on the wall of your shop? How about tops and bottoms? Bee veils? Ya, I still have tons of equipment from those years sitting in a box van on my property in NY. I'm going to put my money where my mouth is-if anyone who lives in the Fingerlakes area of NY wants to start in beekeeping give me a P.M. I'll make available to you enough equipment to start one hive if you make a deal with me. Come spring you put an ad in your local paper that you'll catch a bee swarm for free- and do it. During the winter as you get ready for this new most excellent of adventures you have to promise to educate yourself with books and forums like this one. You do that and I'll give you a hand. It won't cost you a dime in money, but it will take some sweat. Maybe, in time, you'll be the next big beekeeper to pollinate the food I eat and produce the honey for my tea.

  14. #14
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    Aug 2009
    Location
    Findlay, Ohio
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    524

    Default Re: People, a top bar hive?

    So what you are saying is that a person that only wants to keep one or two hives has no business even getting into business with bees?

    I live inside city limits. I can only have one or two hives on my property. Should I give up now? No, I can contribute up to two colonies of honey bees for the area. Now, if neighbors join in, we get even more colonies. Beekeeping doesn't have to be a massive undertaking.

    Until I found the top bar hive, I would never have thought about having a hive as the cost burden of a Langstroth is too high and my wife likes me to keep my hobbies on the less expensive side.

    If we all build our TBHs to the same width, all our equipment would interchange. Also, building a top bar hive is easy. I can rip new bars in just a few minutes if I need more bars.

    Also, that used bee equipment has to be inspected for disease. At least in Ohio, all used hives, frames, tools, etc., have to be inspected before sale.

  15. #15
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    Apr 2009
    Location
    St Petersburg, FL
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    26

    Default Re: People, a top bar hive?

    No, you're missing my point. It's the ability to expand that's important. Some folks find they have a gift for keeping bees. They have a few hives and the next thing you know it's turned into ten, then twenty and so on. Great. But this becomes very difficult to do without standardized equipment. I do like your point on a standardized TBH. Same idea. A little harder to convert into a commercial operation-harder to load into trucks, harder to stack etc. But the same idea- an ease of expansion.
    As far as disease, I would welcome any inspection process. That wouldn't hinder the process of giving away equipment at all. A new beekeeper should start with disease free equipment anyway. The best part- the state provides this service for free.
    Now, you made an interesting point. That you have a few hives, and you hope that maybe your neighbors would get involved and have a few hives of their own. This is the way it once was before commercial beekeeping as we know it today. When we were a farming nation almost everyone had a few hives on their farm for the harvesting of it's honey. They kept them in skeps and killed the bees when it was time to harvest. They then would catch swarms in the spring and repeat the process. Then Langstroth had his vision about bee space. We had, for a period, a mingling of the commercial and the residential beekeeper. There were more than enough bees to pollinate everything. But as we became industrialized, the residential beekeeper become more scarce. Until finally the age of the commercial migratory pollination efforts was born.
    I just don't see a renaissance of that kind coming anytime soon. We, as a nation, have moved through an industrial into a technological age and become separated from our environment. Unless this changes at it's root the burden of crop pollination will fall on future commercial beekeepers, and that is where I put my hope.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Portland, OR, USA
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    633

    Default Re: People, a top bar hive?

    I'm not sure why you are so much of your frustration with top bar hives. It sounds more like you're frustrated that no one's taking up where others have left off in beekeeping. You also don't seem to comprehend that there are many who use non-traditional hives not only due to cost, but for a multitude of other reasons including:

    1) The enjoyment of building our own hives
    2) The desire to keep bees in what we consider a more natural, foundationless environment
    3) The ease of working these style hives over the cumbersome, heavy Langstroth hives
    4) Less strain on our backs
    5) Fun

    I have a Langstroth hive and it does well. However, I don't enjoy working in it, I don't enjoy lifting 40-60 pound boxes, and I don't like to use foundation. Sure, I could always go foundationless in that hive, but I much prefer Warre and Horizontal Top Bar Hives for the reasons above as well as many others.

    Do you feel that I and those like me are a detriment to the beekeeping community? Do you feel that we are hindering the replenishment of the commercial beekeeping population?

    Cheers,

    Matt

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Chippew County, WI, USA
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    650

    Default Re: People, a top bar hive?

    Alltek

    I appreciate all your insight on the subject of hive body and frame size. I believe I have really learned something from it. Hopefully I make the right decision. Something that seems so simple is really a bit complicated and so difficult to choose from. One frame size is definitely an advantage. If you are going to buy nuc's or sell nuc's having medium boxes is going to be a major problem. I guess I better try me some eights this coming season.

    WI-beek

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: People, a top bar hive?

    I think that the TBH is helping rather than hindering. Working a TBH isn't going to do anything to hinder a person who gets hooked on beekeeping from moving on to the Lang.

    Most people seem to think that large-scale beekeeping should be done with a Lang - but true or not, the point is that the TBH seems to be encouraging even more people to give beekeeping a shot.

    I'd say that's at the root of what AllTek is advocating. And in that sense, the TBH is on your side.

    Adam

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    St Petersburg, FL
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    26

    Default Re: People, a top bar hive?

    Do you feel that I and those like me are a detriment to the beekeeping community? Do you feel that we are hindering the replenishment of the commercial beekeeping population?

    Cheers,

    Matt

    To answer your two very important questions I reply No and maybe. Allow me to explain. First, the TBH may just be the renaissance that the beekeeping community needs. The faith I do not hold in a resurgence of residential beekeeping may just be the TBH. For that I would say hallelujah. But we would still have a gap.
    We live in a world now of huge tract farms. Many of our crops are grown not by members of our community but by members of Agribusiness. How would these crops be pollinated? Many of these farms are far away from communities of any kind. This trend continues to grow as small farms go out of business. That leaves us with the problem of pollinating these crops. I'm afraid that they can only be pollinated by those that have embraced the calling of the commercial beekeeper. These beekeepers need standardized equipment if they are to be efficient and expand. And who knows who these new commercial operators are?
    I think they might be here lurking right here, looking for information. I think they may have an interest and just need a hand. So my answer to your second question is maybe. I feel that responsibility tugging, and I'm just trying to give back to a way of life that's given me so much. As Thurgood Marshall said:

    “None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up
    by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody -
    a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns -
    bent down and helped us pick up our boots.”"

  20. #20

    Default Re: People, a top bar hive?

    Alltek,

    Here is what I see as you failing to understand.

    While you may be seeing more posts in forums and some ads online for TBH's the overwhelming majority of beekeepers new and experienced are still using Langs. There is no immediate danger of the Lang going the way of the Cuckoo bird. it is firmly entrenched into the beekeeping landscape.

    What iand others have tried to communicate is that there are more reasons for keeping bees than making money in honey production and crop pollination for some folks. For those folks, other hives, like TBH's , may be more appropriate to their needs and goals.

    Langs are probably the most efficient method for crop pollenation and honey production. But, for the more educational and social oriented beekeepers, who use their hives to teach students and community members or to study and observe bees, they may find that tbh's are better for those purposes. new markets are opening up where bees can be involved and other hives may be better for those markets.

    Another thing to consider is the point made earlier that langs are designed to make the beekeepers life easier. Some folks are focusing on making the bees lives easier or at least being less intrusive in bees lives and there tbh's do excel over langs.

    it's a big world and there's plenty of room in it for all variety of hives. enjoy the variety, don't stifle it.

    Big Bear
    No, I am NOT a bee "Keeper". Anything I post is just my opinion. Take it easy and think for yourself.

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