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  1. #1

    Default Spring Management TBH

    I just started reading about Kenyan Top Bar Hives last night. I keep 12 to 20 langs and am looking to do a top bar hive for some fun. One thing I'm thinking of right now that I can't put my head around. Top bar width. I have read to use one size for brood and another size for honey. But in the winter they work from the brood end to the honey end. In the spring do they start moving from the honey end back to the brood end or do you physically move them back to the brood frames? It seems to me like the queen would start laying in the wider honey frames until they get back filled and she gets pushed all the way back to the brood end. What size bars do you use and how many do you use of each? I hope I made my questions clear. If you have a good website for managing top bar hives I would love to read it.


    Thanks
    Dan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    East S.F. Bay, California, USA
    Posts
    111

    Default Re: Spring Management TBH

    The places to start:

    The Barefoot Beekeeper
    Bush Bees

    Can't really answer your question because we are just getting out of our first winter with our bees, and our winters are mild compared to most. In our case though, just as an example, our queen is laying fairly heavily now and it's all in the brood area. I don't believe the cluster ever moved to the honey, either in our top bar or Lang hive.
    Last edited by Pink Cow; 01-27-2011 at 10:59 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,408

    Default Re: Spring Management TBH

    I don't try to get them to move anywhere, I just try to keep the brood nest open and some space to store nectar. Early that means judiciously (when they can fill the gap) putting empty bars in the brood nest one at a time. This is AFTER they start building up and before they get too crowded. More than one can be done after they are strong enough and the weather warm enough. To keep room for honey you need to harvest before things are full.

    http://bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm#management
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Wake Forest, NC, USA
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: Spring Management TBH

    Hi Dan. I build a lot of TBH's every year and i find that buillding the bars 1 3/8" wide works for me. The bees build the comb to the size they need. I believe that the queen knows the size of the comb built when she lowers her abdomen into the comb she lays either a worker egg or a drone egg depending on the size of the comb built. I think this is why i never get larvae in my honey because the queen doesnt lay eggs in those size combs.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,973

    Default Re: Spring Management TBH

    Quote Originally Posted by kenny61 View Post
    ...I think this is why i never get larvae in my honey because the queen doesnt lay eggs in those size combs.
    That doesn't sound quite right. I was under the impression that bees will fill in any combs with honey, and when they store it, they often extend, or deepen the cell to hold more, which is why honey storage area combs get wider, and people go to a wider top bar.

    The reason you don't have brood in your honey is that the bees like to separate the stores from the brood nest. The diameter of the cell really hasn't got anything to do with where honey is stored. That measurement is only important to the type of bee that can develop in it.

    Isn't that correct?

    Adam

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Wake Forest, NC, USA
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: Spring Management TBH

    Im not always sure why bees do what they do. I DO know that the queens in my friends Langstroth hives often lay eggs in the honey section of his hives. I never get eggs in my honey combs and I like to attribute it to the bees building their comb to the sizes they need and not being put on one size of foundation.
    All my top bars are the same size. 1 3/8" wide. I get full combs of honey that arent attached to one another. The bees sometimes attach a comb to the wall of the hive and I often wonder if they do that because it helps to anchor the comb. But who knows...Theyre bees...theyve been doing this for 30 million years without my help...I offer them a house and they seem to like it so far..


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,408

    Default Re: Spring Management TBH

    In a Langstroth the typical cause of brood in the supers it that the bees have no where to raise drones in the brood nest (due to foundation use and culling drone comb) and they have trouble tearing down the walls of old brood comb because of cocoons, so they tear down (if it's drawn but has no cocoons) or build from scratch (because they can do what they want if it's not drawn) some drone comb in the supers. Not because they WANT drones in the supers but because they can build them there and you deprived them of them in the brood nest. I've seen a queen cross two or three capped supers to get to a patch of drone cells and lay.

    You don't typically get this with a natural brood nest as they have drone comb there because they built it that way.

    Cell size can be a deterrent but it is not typically the reason for the brood nest being consolidated. That is due to workforce and heating issues. They have to keep the brood warm and the nurse bees don't want to be running all over the hive to care for brood. Typically cell sizes do vary, but if the queen needs room to lay she will lay workers in anything from a 4.4mm to a 5.5mm cell without hesitating.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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