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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Polk Co, NC, USA
    Posts
    201

    Default Ideal Top Bar width?

    Hi all, I just finished my first KTBH with the help of my father. He is quite a builder and tends to run away with the project. Usually that is GREAT! But on the TBH he decided that it would be alot faster and easier if he made all of the bars 1 1/2 " wide. They do have the triangular guide.

    I am wondering if I need to cut these down before my bees arrive this weekend. What is the optimum size?

    Thanks! Lauren

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Dalkeith, Ont, Canada
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: Ideal Top Bar width?

    1-1/2" is fine for the honey end but the broodnest needs to be 1-1/4
    some people cut all their bars the same and use 1/4" spacers, some cut them all 1-3/8", I think you will have trouble in your broodnest at 1-1/2" they tend to build off center to get the spacing down to 1-1/4.
    My blog @ Bee Crazy

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Quad Cities, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: Ideal Top Bar width?

    I would cut off the extra 1/8" from at least the first 1/3 of the hive.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Polk Co, NC, USA
    Posts
    201

    Default Re: Ideal Top Bar width?

    Thanks guys! I will cut 1/3 down to 1 1/4.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Findlay, Ohio
    Posts
    524

    Default Re: Ideal Top Bar width?

    If you make your bars larger than 1 1/4" for the brood area, the bees will most likely build 2 combs on each bar. I attempted to use all the same bar size for the brood and honey and the best advice out there is use smaller bars for brood and the larger bars for honey.

    I am in the process of adding 1-1/4" bars into my brood areas. I started one hive with the 1-1/4" bars and the bees have built the best on these bars compared to the 1-3/8 bars I have in my other hives. For the most part the 1-3/8" bars have comb being built ok, but I find that when the bees get of bit off, they build 2 combs side-by-side on one bar. I tried to make things simple but made things more complicated by trying to use 1-3/8" bars for everything.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Marysville, WA
    Posts
    477

    Default Re: Ideal Top Bar width?

    I have 2 hives with only 1 3/8". One hive has 13 bars drawn and the other 15 bars. All are great so far. I guess we'll see with the remaining bars. I wanted to keep things as simple as possible since I am known for overcomplicating things. If I have issues I change at that point. Alot of beeks stick with
    1 3/8ths for everything.

    Mike

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,774

    Default Re: Ideal Top Bar width?

    I have tried making them all 1 1/2". They cheated a little small on each bar until the combs were between the bars for brood, but did fine in honey storage. I have tried making them all 1 1/4". They did great in the brood area and then started cheating them bigger in the honey storage area. I tried making them all 1 3/8". If you're going to make one size, this works best, but again they cheated them smaller in the brood area, (but didn't get off as far) and bigger in the honey storage area (but didn't get off as far), so now I make them half and half. Half 1 1/4" and half 1 1/2". Besides that way I only have to cut half of them down, as 1 1/2" are the width of a two by...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Polk Co, NC, USA
    Posts
    201

    Default Re: Ideal Top Bar width?

    Thanks! I have cut 1/3 of them down to 1 1/4 inches. I also intended to add ventilation, but ran out of time. I don't have a router.
    Going to get my bees tomorrow~ I am trying my nuc attached under the TBH kind of gondola style; I would show pics but I am not sure how.

    Wish me luck!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Dalkeith, Ont, Canada
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: Ideal Top Bar width?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    I have tried making them all 1 1/2". They cheated a little small on each bar until the combs were between the bars for brood, but did fine in honey storage. I have tried making them all 1 1/4". They did great in the brood area and then started cheating them bigger in the honey storage area. I tried making them all 1 3/8". If you're going to make one size, this works best, but again they cheated them smaller in the brood area, (but didn't get off as far) and bigger in the honey storage area (but didn't get off as far), so now I make them half and half. Half 1 1/4" and half 1 1/2". Besides that way I only have to cut half of them down, as 1 1/2" are the width of a two by...
    Yea this is exactly what I have observed so far, I'm using 1-1/4" so when they get to the far end of the hive I can see the comb slowly moving out of center as the cell sizes increase for honey storage. At this point I start adding 1/4" spacers.
    My blog @ Bee Crazy

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Lakeland, FL USA
    Posts
    835

    Default Re: Ideal Top Bar width?

    .

    I've been using the furring strips you buy at Home Depot or Lowe's for cheap. They are appox 1 3/8".




    I also make up a bunch of honey spacers. Those are approx 1/16-of-an-inch smaller than a 1/4-inch wide. So far so good.

    I just can't see having to saw all those bars the "perfect" width, especially since I don't own a table saw yet. I only have a circular saw.
    www.savebeesflorida.com (Honeybee removals and top bar hives)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Lakeland, FL USA
    Posts
    835

    Default Re: Ideal Top Bar width?

    .

    I also use these furring strips to do cut-outs. I use the half-inch hardware cloth to stab the comb onto it.

    Several observations of the photos below:

    1) Some of the bars appear to be stacked. I transferred a cut-out from a standard-sized top bar nuc to this larger-lengthed-bar-size barrel hive. I screwed the normal size bar to the bottom of the barrel top bar - - in case anyone was wondering why they are like that.

    2) The combs will get much larger than this. They are just getting started. The hive is booming.

    3) The pictures that show them flying around a lot is because they were in the middle of orientation flights. They weren't mad. They are very nice bees, thank you very much.

    4) I am now making the hardware cloth with a much smaller footprint. They don't reach down nearly that far any longer.














    MICHAEL BUSH !!! I NEED YOUR STAMP-OF-APPROVAL !!!!!!

    .
    www.savebeesflorida.com (Honeybee removals and top bar hives)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Whitla Ab. Canada
    Posts
    494

    Default Re: Ideal Top Bar width?

    Help! Someone forgot to tell my Bees, I built all my Topbars 1-1/2 inches wide and everything is working right in both hives. When I start checkerboarding next spring should I use 1-1/4 inch then in the brood nest? Or will it be alright to continue with 1-1/2 inch? Of course all of this depends if they make it through the winter. Thanks.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,724

    Default Re: Ideal Top Bar width?

    If you used 1 1/2" bars in the brood nest, and your bees built straight comb without joining it to an adjacent bar, then you may be over the hump. You can add new bars to the brood nest between existing straight bars,, and the odds are good that new bars will also get built straight.

    As it is the honey bars that will get rebuilt after a harvest, and those are suggested at 1 1/2 inches, you should be OK.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Brownsburg, IN
    Posts
    56

    Default Re: Ideal Top Bar width?

    I'm a first year beekeeper, but I second Pat's furring strips. I used the same and have had no troubles this year at 1 3/8".

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default Re: Ideal Top Bar width?

    Don't forget, whatever width you use for your Top Bars, it works best if your comb guides are centered, though it will work even if they aren't centered (the bees will adjust their comb placement, accordingly). Most likely it's my OCD-like tendencies that are speaking here. I just have a strong preference for everything to be uniform and balanced, even Top Bars in a Top Bar hive.

    I have usually used Top Bars that are 1-1/4" wide, but recently began using Top Bars 1-5/16" wide, without noticing any problems.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Stoke on trent,UK
    Posts
    42

    Default Re: Ideal Top Bar width?

    All my 4 TBHs and 4 TBH nucs use 1.5 inch wide bars. No problems at all.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Whitla Ab. Canada
    Posts
    494

    Default Re: Ideal Top Bar width?

    Hello madasafish:
    Did you just rip them off of 2x4 or 2x6 like I did? I don't seem to have problems and I used string and beeswax as a comb guide.
    But every sunday afternoon he is a dirt track demon
    In a '57 chevrolet- Jim Croce

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Stoke on trent,UK
    Posts
    42

    Default Re: Ideal Top Bar width?

    I bought pre cut strip and added a triangular comb guide underneath. Rubbed with a bar of candlewax.. KISS.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Lakeland, FL USA
    Posts
    835

    Default Re: Ideal Top Bar width?

    Quote Originally Posted by madasafish View Post
    I bought pre cut strip and added a triangular comb guide underneath. Rubbed with a bar of candlewax.. KISS.
    What are you using for your triangular comb guide? I've been getting the triangular molding from the big box hardware stores. They are about six bucks per eight-foot strip. I'd like to find cheaper.
    www.savebeesflorida.com (Honeybee removals and top bar hives)

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Stoke on trent,UK
    Posts
    42

    Default Re: Ideal Top Bar width?

    Quote Originally Posted by PatBeek View Post
    What are you using for your triangular comb guide? I've been getting the triangular molding from the big box hardware stores. They are about six bucks per eight-foot strip. I'd like to find cheaper.
    I cut a square section of wood approx 3/4 inch square. Then I cut it along a diagonal using a handheld jigsaw to produce two triangular sections. They are not perfect, but the bees don't care. I pin and glue (PU glue) to the underneath of the topbar. I'll find a picture later and post it..

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