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  1. #21
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Accord, NY
    Posts
    333

    Default Re: Wintering in TBH's

    "1. A cutout, particularly one in the photo you provided is going to have temps moderated for them due to heat from the house.
    2. The cutout in the photo would actually *ALMOST* be more similar to a TBH with the bars perpendicular to the direction they run in current designs."


    I agree on both points. The picture just illustrates that the bees will move horizontally and do not need much overhead space to survive.
    The two lang sized (19" bar X 9 5/8" height) long hives that I over-wintered last year did great. Two out of two ain't bad, is it. (Some of my deeper bodied top bar hives didn't make it, though, so I'm not sure vertical movement is the problem.)

  2. #22
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord NH
    Posts
    2,665

    Default Re: Wintering in TBH's

    Quote Originally Posted by Aram View Post
    [i]
    I agree on both points. The picture just illustrates that the bees will move horizontally and do not need much overhead space to survive.
    I think its important to make a distinction as I have done previously between moving up/down/sideways on comb (relatively easy for a cluster in cold) and moving BETWEEN comb/frames which is much more difficult for a cluster in the cold.

    Think about the physics of a cluster, particularly a smaller one.that is working two sides of a single frame or even two frames. In order to move between comb they actually need to get OFF the comb they are on and go over/under/around the comb in order to get onto the other side of the destination frame/comb.

    This is MUCH more difficult than simply going up to another frame (chimney) or moving along a single continuous comb as illustrated in the cutout.

    Beenovice, thats an interesting comparison on the Lang equiv of a TBH.

    I don't know anyone up in Northern NE that over winters on anything less than 2 deeps. I'm using 3 mediums on some and 2 deeps and a medium on most.
    Milk Cows Not Taxpayers

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,593

    Default Re: Wintering in TBH's

    >The point obviously is that theres a lot more room for error in warmer climates.....

    Certainly.

    >and TBH's make it more difficult for bees to get to stores.....lets say all things equal you winter with 2 deeps in a Lang and ~20 bars in a TBH. The distance between the two furthest frames in a lang is about half that of a TBH

    Your assumptions are not consistent with my observations. In my observation I lose more bees in double ten frame deep langs than I do in top bar hives. You may believe whatever you like, but what you believe is not consistent with my experiences. My horizontal hives, all in all winter as well if not better. Most years better. I could theorize why, but I don't know if I'm correct. But let's try this. A long hive they can stay at the top, where they prefer the whole winter and just move sideways consistently to the other end until there are no more stores or spring comes. In a ten frame lang the cluster is too small to fill the box so the outside frames get left behind and they get to the top and starve inches away from food. I see less stores left behind in the horizontal hives than the vertical hives.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Findlay, Ohio
    Posts
    323

    Big Grin Re: Wintering in TBH's

    From reading the 3 pages of posts on this. I have a few points/question to add. First of all I lost my TBH and 3 langs last winter, they simply starved (ran out of stores). Last winter in NW Oh was misserable and long that followed a zreo fall flow.
    If bees are in a lang. then there is only one way to go, same for a TBH or whatever they deside to make there home in, up-down-sideway or at an angle. I do agree that they move in one direction not going back untill the whole cycle starts over in the spring.
    One question not asked/mentioned on the 17 TBH's lost is did they have an end entrance? If the 17 had the entrance in the middle, then mostlikely the brood nest would have been in the middle and they would have moved one way from there to feed, giving them only half of there stores.
    Just my 2 cents worth.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Kingsley, MI. USA
    Posts
    167

    Default Re: Wintering in TBH's

    I have also found that the horizontal nests that I have removed have all had the combs built lengthwise in the space, or at least diagonally, never perpendicular to the length like a TBH.

    One of the things that I find most interesting about this discussion is the extremely low expectations that many here have for over-wintering. 50-60% die-off would be expected? This is acceptable?

    Those levels seem completely insane to me. I never experienced die-offs anywhere near half of new colonies even when I used Langs (my langs had quilts on them). I guess if you think that you should lose so many bee colonies during the winter, then it is easy to think TBHs work well in cold climates. Maybe it's time to try something new so that you'll have something to compare the TBHs to other than just a Lang which is also not a very good way to overwinter bees.

    Michael makes a very good point....without saying it I actually think he suggested that bees would pass-up the least amount of stores in a vertical, yet SQUARE hive that was small enough for the cluter to fill....Hmmmmmm.

    Maybe an octagonal, vertical hive that fits a cluster perfectly would work even better...I and many of my customers are about to find out.

    Chris Harvey--Teakwood Organics

    www.thewarrestore.com
    Last edited by beez2010; 06-27-2010 at 10:31 AM. Reason: signature/add ideas

  6. #26
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Accord, NY
    Posts
    333

    Default Re: Wintering in TBH's

    Chris,
    The whole sentence was: "If someone brought southern bee packages and did nothing but put them in top bar hives I'd expect as much as 50-60% die-off the first winter in my area."
    That implied that:
    -the bees were not acclimatized (i.e. southern stock in northern climate),
    -possibly carrying SHB (happened to me last year),
    -non hygenic because were not bread for that so they are relying on chem treatments for mite control and now they are getting none ( I see that all your hives have screened bottoms "to monitor and combat varroa mites),
    -inexperienced beekeeper (hands off approach, doing nothing but putting them in the box and leaving them alone.)
    That's a lot of ifs. Top Bar Hives do require some attention and so do Langs. I know that part of your point is that Warre hives do not. I am interested in those too, maybe next year. In the meantime let us know how it works for your customers.
    I have found (true, just one) case in which the bees built perpendicular to the length of the space. It was between 16" on center floor joists. Don't know if they would have made it through the winter but I assume the bees knew what they were doing.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Honduras
    Posts
    229

    Default Re: Wintering in TBH's

    Last year and year before while working in Wisconsin, I started some top bar hives with my brother. We had about a 60 percent survival rate with them. Of those that did not survive, some had other issues like a small population or a doubtful queen. There was also a bad fall goldenrod flow which didnīt help them any to get ready for and get through winter. I actually didnīt expect all of them to survive.

    This was the first time that I had tried to over winter a hive. All my other beekeeping experience has been in Honduras (just about 20 years now) where obviously it isnīt necessary. I thought about it, researched it and talked a good bit with the commercial beekeeper with whom I was working.

    I decided to bundle them in groups of four. Understanding that bees usually do seem to prefer to move up rather than sideways, I was thinking that the hives in a group would maybe help give one another a bit more warmth and keep the cluster a bit more loose so they could move sideways and find more honey reserves.

    http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s...sOct200801.jpg
    http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s...sOct200802.jpg

    I donīt have legs attached to the hive, which made stacking them possible. We bought some big sheets of white Styrofoam which we put around the the top, bottom and sides. Then everything was covered with a big piece of plastic left over from an ag bag for silage. We made sure they would get enough ventilation and kept a dead air space right in the middle of the four. We also made sure all the winter stores were to one side of the brood nest (the stores were moved, not the brood nest).

    http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s...sOct200803.jpg
    http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s...sOct200804.jpg
    http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s...sOct200805.jpg
    http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s...sOct200806.jpg
    http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s...ives200901.jpg

    Spring unwrapping:

    http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s...ring200901.jpg
    http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s...ring200902.jpg


    It may not be the most perfect method (or maybe not even necessary) but the initial results were promising in my opinion. But whatever method is used (or whatever type of hive is used), I think the most important thing is to have your hive strong, mite free, disease free and with enough stores when going into winter. And maybe the initial source of your bees should also be taken into consideration since many people have commented elsewhere on this forum about the less than stellar performance by some package bees and their queens. (These bees initially started from packages and nucs made in Wisconsin with bees returning from almond pollination and with queens from very reputable queen breeders).

    ----------
    Tom

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,603

    Default Re: Wintering in TBH's

    The first year I had my condo hive (20 frame Lang), the bees ended up dying of starvation all bunched up at one end of the hive with plenty of stores at the other end. From then on, I would always put follower boards in the 5 and 15 frame position early fall and put the frames out side of the boards in another brood chamber above. Never had a problem after that. At the very least, a TBH would require one to make sure the brood is at one end of the hive entering into a winter like we have.
    Regards, Barry

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