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  1. #1
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    Aug 2009
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    Default Adding a super to a top bar hive

    Hello,

    I am thinking about adding a super to one of my top bar hives. My current plant is to just cut a hole in the roof and to set the super over it. I would allow a gap in the follower board to allow the bees to move up. Think this will work?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Accord, NY
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    336

    Default Re: Adding a super to a top bar hive

    I wouldn't destroy the roof you have. Just make two migratory style covers to cover the bars on either side of the super. If the comb under the super is drawn out and capped, you could space the bars apart a bit so that the bees can move up. They don't naturally move upwards so give them as much encouragement as you can. (Just one gap by the follower board might not be enough.)
    They'll also need a ladder to climb and start building from the top of the supper down, otherwise they'll just build burr comb right on top of the bars. To make a ladder cut 3" strips of foundation and place them vertically in the middle of every frame.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Adding a super to a top bar hive

    Quote Originally Posted by FindlayBee View Post
    Hello,

    I am thinking about adding a super to one of my top bar hives. My current plant is to just cut a hole in the roof and to set the super over it.
    Would this super have frames or just top bars? I thought that honey from tbhs was harvested by removal of frames that are in the tbh.

    Why do you want to do this? Why don't you get a Langstroth hive?
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  4. #4

    Default Re: Adding a super to a top bar hive

    I thought that honey from tbhs was harvested by removal of frames that are in the tbh.
    Most top bars hives have top bars, not frames. There are a couple of ways to extract. good old crush and strain or using an extractor with baskets.
    No, I am NOT a bee "Keeper". Anything I post is just my opinion. Take it easy and think for yourself.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Adding a super to a top bar hive

    Yes, that was my understanding. I was asking Findly about the super he wants to put on his TBH, which seems contrary to the whole idea of a TBH. But I am old fashioned and narrow minded at times.

    I read something in one of the books that I just got about Quinby putting a hole in his hive so the bees could travel upwards to put honey into another box. I'll have to go find that passage.
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Adding a super to a top bar hive

    I have one top bar hive that is boiling over with bees. This last brood cycle overflowed the hive. I am planning on either splitting this hive or expanding it by adding a super with foundationless frames. I either need to split or add a super to this hive.

    Next year, I plan on having both types of hives. I am working on getting some foundationless langstroth hives build for next season.





    Last edited by FindlayBee; 07-19-2010 at 09:41 PM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Adding a super to a top bar hive

    Is this because the hive isn't long enuf?
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Adding a super to a top bar hive

    It is a 3 foot hive which is a common size for tbhs. I have a 4ft hive in another yard that isn't even close to having as many bees or comb. Two other 3ft hives still have plenty of space as well. This hive just built up very strong.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Denver, CO, USA
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    17

    Default Re: Adding a super to a top bar hive

    I have a small hive that is supered. My hive is maxed at 22 bars, and our Spring buildup was fast and strong. A split was not an option so I dropped a warré box on top, over the existing honey stores. I use spacers, so creating gaps was simple. I pulled out 3 spacers and baited the super w/a small piece of honey comb. No ladders or any other encouragement for them to move up was needed. There were so many bees, they welcomed the add'l space. As a matter of fact, right after we supered, the bees tore down every queen cell they had in the works. We knew of seven but there were probably more.

    I used chamfers on the top bars, no frames, and the combs are really creative. Definitely a crush and strain situation. There is minor attachment to the top bars below, and very little propolizing to the main hive. Looking forward to pulling the super off this week. Working on making a bee escape. Anyone have advice?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    Honduras
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    227

    Default Re: Adding a super to a top bar hive

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Would this super have frames or just top bars? I thought that honey from tbhs was harvested by removal of frames that are in the tbh.

    Why do you want to do this? Why don't you get a Langstroth hive?
    Normally it´s true that tbhs are harvested by using a simple crush and strain system. I think that was one of the original ideas behind them—keep them simple stupid (meaning no supers and no frames and no extractor).

    But there is no rule that says you “have to” use them strictly in that manner. If someone wants to take it one step further and use a hybrid system with supers/frames, I say why not. I’ve done it myself.

    Now if you start to debate whether the Langstroth or tbh is better and why you should use one and not the other, you can maybe get yourself into a pretty good argument. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Both systems can work very well or not work at all. In the end of things, every beekeeper has to make their own decision based upon their own situation and own desires.

    From a development standpoint, a top bar hive can be very useful in a country such as Honduras. Langstroth equipment is quite expensive for the ordinary Honduran (and even some ordinary Americans). It is also difficult to make oneself considering the exactitude with measurements that is necessary and the lack of power tools like table saws. The ordinary Hondurans usually will not have their own table saw. You usually only get one if carpentry is your profession. Trying to make Langstoth boxes and frames with a handsaw doesn´t work that well. About the only thing that needs an exact measurment in a tbh are the top bars, and those are simple enough that it isn´t too expensive to have the carpenter with the table saw cut those for you.

    Top bar hives are a good way to get someone’s feet wet with beekeeping while not having to spend a lot of money—either their own or that of a development agency. I can probably make five or six or seven tbhs for what one four-box Langstroth setup would cost me here. With development projects, I’ve seen many times here where lots of money is spent on a big group of new beekeepers (training, equipment and bees), only to have a small fraction of them really stick with this activity and do it seriously. The rest sell their equipment or maybe let it rot (or so something like turn them into nesting boxes for the chickens!).

    I see supering tbhs as a way to transition these beekeepers who are serious about doing this. It’s a way to move from the tbh system to a full-blown Langstroth system without having to completely start over with different equipment and making a big investment. They can begin their upgrade with just the supers that can make things more commercial. Later they can continue their investment with boxes and frames for the brood chambers. Or maybe not even do that step, especially if the hives are stationary and the beekeeper doesn’t have the idea to do migratory beekeeping.

    And in some ways the same holds true for some people in the States. For several years recently I was working seasonally in Wisconsin for some commercial beekeepers (2000+ hives for honey production and almond pollination). However, I wanted to have some of my own hives to play around with on the weekends. I didn’t (and couldn’t) spend a bunch of money on them. I was spending enough the way it was on the packages and nucs I was getting. So the top bar hive was the way to go, especially since I had access to some old barn boards that were in decent shape for making the boxes and a bunch of heavy duty pallets made out of two by fours that I could rip down for the top bars.

    The next year I got some old bee boxes and frames free/cheap. They weren’t very nice to use as brood boxes (in kind of rough shape) but were more than adequate to use seasonally as supers. My investment that year was then put towards a nice hand cranked extractor.

    Now that I’m back in Honduras full time, the hives are in the hands of my brother. He likes bees but not quite as much as me. And he has a lot of other activities going on with his family so bees sometimes take a back seat. We’ve had fairly good success so far over-wintering the tbhs. He probably won’t ever do migratory beekeeping. So if he isn’t going to keep bees as seriously as I would, maybe it’s good that he limits his investment and does just the supering of tbhs we started with.

    Langstroth hives are the best option for the commercial beekeepers. If I had continued to work in Wisconsin, I would have continued to increase the hives, moving toward a full-blown Langstroth set-up. But top bar hives are a very viable option for the hobbyist or small sideliner. So if they want to have a hybrid system, why not? If they later decide they like beekeeping so much that they want to become commercial, I’m fairly sure they would then do away with the tbhs.

    Besides those who only want a couple hives and need to keep the investment to a minimum, I see several other reasons to use tbhs or the hybrid system. There are those beekeepers who enjoy experimenting/using something that is a bit different from the norm. There are those that want to make as much of their own equipment as possible, even though they may not be the most expert carpenter. Top bar and Langstroth hives can be combined successfully to keep bees. Some believe in the idea of the tbhs offering a more natural environment and way of managing bees and their brood (although I also have to admit there are ways to change Langstroth management to make it more natural and bee friendly). Tbhs can also be fun to work with!

    Like I mentioned in the beginning, everyone has a reason for doing beekeeping in the way they do it. To each his own—especially if they are happy and successful with the system they use.

    Here are some photos from Honduras and Wisconsin of my hives and the supering I have done with them. There is also a link to a couple past threads about supering tbhs where I further explain how I do this.

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...400#post450400

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...477#post425477

    http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s...acetosuper.jpg

    http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s...perofhoney.jpg

    http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s...ndexcluder.jpg

    http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s...entersuper.jpg

    http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s...rHiveSuper.jpg

    http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s...erandsuper.jpg

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    Tom

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Adding a super to a top bar hive

    Findlay, when you installed your bees into your tbh, did you start them on one end? I was talking to a friend of mine today who spent three years in the Peace Corp in Tunisia. He said that the tbh was a transition hive from the traditional horizontal basket like hive to modern, ie Langstroth equipment.

    But, most importantly he told me that in a traditional hive the colony was started in the middle of the hive and when honey combs were removed/harvested the beekeeper would take combs from one end until he got to brood and then do the same from the other end as well.

    Thus my question. Maybe that is the source of your problem?
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  12. #12
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    Aug 2009
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    Default Re: Adding a super to a top bar hive

    I started them at one end.



  13. #13
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    Default Re: Adding a super to a top bar hive

    well, there ya go. Could you move them down the hive? Or do they have brood and honey from end to end?
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  14. #14
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    Jun 2005
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    Default Re: Adding a super to a top bar hive

    Mark, this is what I see with my top bar hives in Honduras—even with the ones I had in the Wisconsin. I started the colonies in the middle of the box. Eventually I get honey at either end—although one end usually has much more than the other.

    When I harvest the hives here in Honduras, I will go through all the hives and do just one side. If the bees behave themselves, most will run down to the other end and they won’t get too stingy (although since they are Africanized they are always somewhat stingy). I will then come back a week or so later and harvest the other end.

    Findlay, as far as your three-foot long top bar hive—that definitely seems small to me. I had some of my four-foot Tanzanian tbhs in Wisconsin fill up completely. They were built to take deep frames or make combs that big from the top bars. If you consider it, four feet is only thirty some bars/pieces of comb.

    Many times beekeepers have four-box Langstroth hives overflowing with bees—that’s definitely more than thirty frames. If the nectar is coming in strong, you would need even more boxes on it. I would rather have my boxes too long rather than too short. A first-year colony might not get it filled with combs, but a second-year colony is very likely to.
    But…. if you are going to then throw a super on them, it should then probably be good. In fact, three feet is probably a good size for the brood nest and for overwintering. It should definitely be able to hold enough stores for winter. But a super it will probably need if the hive is in the shape you normally want it for honey production.

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    Tom

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Adding a super to a top bar hive

    Hola Tomas, Why do you use tbh in Honduras? Just curious.

    Our State Association is having it's summer picnic and Sam Comfort is the Guest Speaker. I thought that it would be nice to hear about TBH because it seems to be popular these days and I'm curious why? Sam is a TBH advocate/expert(?) from NY. His talk should be interesting. I hope people give him a chance to present his thoughts.
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  16. #16
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    Aug 2009
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    Findlay, Ohio
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    526

    Default Re: Adding a super to a top bar hive

    The hive is full. The last comb was fully built just a few days ago. I will be going through the hive over the weekend as I found that there are a few bars of honey that are almost fully capped. Once removed, the bees will have something to do.

    The above photo was taken around 6:30 PM. This is when the field force is coming in strong for the night. I did open the hive and most of the bees that are on the top of the bars as well as those hanging about the entrance and on the underside moved into the hive when smoked. They may just be hanging out to cool off at this time. Temps are still in the 90's (F) at this time of day.

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