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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,976

    Default TBH Inspection Tip: The "Bee-Down Strip"

    I learned this from IBRed (Riley N from Modesto CA):

    I was having a hard time during hive inspections, as I found it difficult to get bees to go down between bars as I tried to put bars back together.

    I found that the bees tend to get squished between bars as you try to squeeze bars together, and on a hot day if can get difficult to be patient. I found this problem to make inspections longer than I wanted them to be, resulting in more stress on the bees (and me).

    During my earlier thread on TBH Management, IBRed made a suggestion which I found so helpful that I wanted to pull it out and make a separate post of it.

    He suggests having a tool which is simply a strip of wood, metal or some other material that is as long (or longer) than the top bars, and is about 1/16 of an inch (1.5-2mm) thick (height doesn't matter so much). A long thin strip - kind of like a ruler.

    To use it, you just move your bars close together, until you're just down to the width of a bee - almost beginning to squish. Then you gently set your "bee-down strip" in that space, on top of the bees. The strip moves them down under the bar, as you've effectively divided that space to a point where it's too small for them - but you haven't injured them.

    Then you squeeze your bars together against the bee-down strip, which keeps them from coming back up into the space. One you've got it pinched, you pull it up out and finish pressing the bars together. Presto.

    I used a metal framing square and found it worked pretty well, but IBRed warns that anything thicker than 1/16 will allow a few bees to get their heads pinched. He crafted one by ripping a 1/16" strip of wood with a table saw. You could probably use a lot of things.

    I have found this tool and method to greatly increase both the speed and pleasure of an inspection.

    You may know this method, or have one which works as well for you, but I find it quite difficult as a beginner with top bar hives to get useful and timely information regarding management. Forums are great, but compared to the activity and information available to Lang users - its a tiny pool of information.

    I hope this helps you, and I encourage you to share your own ideas - however small.

    The little things can make a big difference.


    Adam

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Stoke on trent,UK
    Posts
    42

    Default Re: TBH Inspection Tip: The "Bee-Down Strip"

    I have two TBHs - started this year. Same problem: same solution: I use a turkey feather which is from the tail of a male - about 18inches long. It's also fairly rigid

    Works perfectly.

    I leave one feather in each hive above the topbars ready for immediate use and since our male is moulting and has lost all his tail feathers I have about 15 as back-up....

    I imagine goose tail feathers would work ...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
    Posts
    804

    Default Re: TBH Inspection Tip: The "Bee-Down Strip"

    Hi Guys,

    What a neat solution. I've added bee-down strips as a necessary addition to my tbh toolbox. It's a gem of an idea and I included it on my blog and web pages at:

    http://beenatural.wordpress.com/2010...ee-down-strip/

    Thanks for the idea, the find, and for sharing.

    Regards - Dennis
    Thinking of turkeys. Still wish I could keep a few.
    Last edited by BWrangler; 08-28-2010 at 09:18 PM.
    I once wrangled bees. But now, knowing better, I just let them bee.
    http://talkingstick.me/category/bees/

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Portland, OR, USA
    Posts
    641

    Default Re: TBH Inspection Tip: The "Bee-Down Strip"

    Definitely a good idea I'll keep in mind next time a customer asks. Personally, I've haven't found it terribly difficult to get the bars back together using the bump/scissor technique, but I'll give this a try tomorrow as I inspect!

    Cheers,
    Matt

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Lewiston, MI, USA
    Posts
    211

    Default Re: TBH Inspection Tip: The "Bee-Down Strip"

    Awesome suggestion! I'm looking forward to cutting down my inspection time.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,112

    Default Re: TBH Inspection Tip: The "Bee-Down Strip"

    Thanks. I don't have top bar hives, but I do have a few top bars that have found their way into my langs - and cause more or less the same issue. A turkey wing feather is already in my tool box in lieu of a brush.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Postville, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    380

    Default Re: TBH Inspection Tip: The "Bee-Down Strip"

    Bump! This might be helpful to new TBH folks....

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Nueces, TX, USA
    Posts
    139

    Default Re: TBH Inspection Tip: The "Bee-Down Strip"

    I need to get around to making something similar myself, I just use the bounce technique as someone else mentioned, it can take a while.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Jackson, MI
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: TBH Inspection Tip: The "Bee-Down Strip"

    Great idea, the squishing problem was deterring me from doing a thorough inspection (along with mother nature). I'll give this a try! Thank you for posting

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Postville, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    380

    Default Re: TBH Inspection Tip: The "Bee-Down Strip"

    My "bee down strip" is a stainless steel woodworking ruler that is about as long as my top bars are. I think I got it from Menards/Lowes/Home Depot. It is light weight, thin enough for the purpose, and easy to clean. It is a little taller than my bars so it is easy to grasp and remove once the bars are closed up around the ruler. The best part is that I didn't have to make it.

    How I use it -- when the gap between a pair of bars is down to about one bee space, more or less, I close one end of the gap so it is just wide enough for the bee-down strip. I slip the ruler into that narrow gap and rest it on that side of the hive. That that part of the gap will now be bee free, so I only have to focus on bee heads and butts along the other end of the gap, not the whole thing. I gently lower the other end of the ruler down between the bars until it too is resting on the side of the hive. Close up that end of the gap, slip the ruler out, then finish closing up.

    With practice, I have found I can hold the ruler ready for use with my ring and little fingers as I move the bars with my thumb, index, and middle fingers. Works pretty slick.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    berkshire county MA
    Posts
    1,472

    Default Re: TBH Inspection Tip: The "Bee-Down Strip"

    thanks for the tip. I started a top bar this year and was wondering how to solve that problem just yesterday

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,976

    Default Re: TBH Inspection Tip: The "Bee-Down Strip"

    I find this to be especially useful if the bees get agitated and really start coming up between the bars - usually toward the end of an inspection. The rest of the time, just gently scissoring the bars patiently will get them down.

    But once it gets hot (in temperature and temperament for both you and the bees) the strip works wonders. If you have spacers between bars, they might serve the same purpose when putting things back together.

    Adam

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Shirley, MA, USA
    Posts
    109

    Default Re: TBH Inspection Tip: The "Bee-Down Strip"

    I use a strip cut from an old corrugated plastic election yard poster. It's just the right width. He was a Republican, so those little socialist bees scoot right away from it.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Pinellass County, Florida
    Posts
    1,115

    Default Re: TBH Inspection Tip: The "Bee-Down Strip"

    How bout a puff or 3 of smoke

    I do like your tool Idea also

    Tommyt

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Postville, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    380

    Default Re: TBH Inspection Tip: The "Bee-Down Strip"

    Tommyt -- the bee-down strip works exactly right where you need the help. Smoke is more general. I don't always use a bee-down strip, but I do keep it and my smoker close by, so they are ready for use if I do need either one.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Shirley, MA, USA
    Posts
    109

    Default Re: TBH Inspection Tip: The "Bee-Down Strip"

    Sort of off topic, but I've been wondering about this-- I just stopped using smoke on my TBH inspections a month or two ago, particularly once I read about the bee-down idea, probably from this thread. I don't even bring the smoker out any more (yes, I may reconsider this in the fall). They just don't seem to mind the inspections much except at the very end, when I've been going a long time and have worked my way to the last few combs by the end entrance. I think the guard bees don't notice what's happening in the back, and since I never directly disrupt more than one comb, there's no mass panic effect like with pulling the top off a Langstroth. They do seem to get pretty clear about wanting to fan the smoke out, which of course puts them in the way of putting the bars together again.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Postville, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    380

    Default Re: TBH Inspection Tip: The "Bee-Down Strip"

    My experiences have been similar to yours, although I have noticed varying degrees of defensiveness with my bees.

    There are things I do that trigger their defensiveness. The bees get upset quicker if I smash bees between the bars (getting much better about not doing that, esp if I use the bee-down strip) or if I have to tidy and straighten comb. Like yours, they get cranky if I take too long, even if I'm just looking, so I've been developing my skills of working smoothly and efficiently, so I can get in and out of the hive quicker.

    Some days they are simply more defensive than others. I wouldn't call them "hot" by any means -- no head butting, no mass attack, nothing like that. Just quicker to complain and fly in an annoyed cloud above the hive and in front of my veil. Last inspection, they were as calm and mellow as I've ever seen them, but other days I've almost immediately gotten an alarmed "roar" and a solid row of suspicious bee heads emerging from between the bars.

    Since I never know what their mood will be, I always light my smoker and keep it handy. I don't usually put much, if any, smoke between the bars directly in the hive -- I agree that does seem to cause them to boil up from between the bars. I sometimes lightly smoke the entrance if I think they are going to be more defensive, but I use it the most in the air above the bars in a light fog whenever a cloud of guard bees begin to fly. This does seem to discourage all but the most determined guards, unless I've worked too long and the bees have simply had enough. Then nothing discourages them -- but I can't blame them for that! I take that as a clear sign that I need to close up and let them alone.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    arnoldsville, ga
    Posts
    88

    Default Re: TBH Inspection Tip: The "Bee-Down Strip"

    I have found that if I hold the bar just above the postion that it is to rest in and the slowly lower it down it pushes the bees down gently and you are left with a bar in place.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    caledon ontario canada
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: TBH Inspection Tip: The "Bee-Down Strip"

    i use a small spray of light sugar water to clear space between bars. they go down and i close up space.
    i don't like to squish them-hearing that crunch- and i'm sure it agitates the others.
    also, i noticed some days they are calmer than others.
    "when the student is ready,the teacher will appear"

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,976

    Default Re: TBH Inspection Tip: The "Bee-Down Strip"

    When they're relatively agreeable, it's not too bad getting them down. It's when you've got them upset that it really helps a lot. There are occasions where I've gone through the entire hive, end-to-end on a hot day, and scratched some drone brood along the way. By the time I'm putting it back together, I'm sweating like crazy and the bees are short on patience. At that point, they really start coming up and are reluctant to go down. At times like that, having some sort of bee-down strip is pretty useful.

    But if you don't find you need it - then of course simpler is better. Just keep it in mind.

    Adam

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