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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
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    676

    Default Unconventional Beekeeping

    For a year I have been researching and reading up on beekeeping in preparation for my first season. I recently purchased and installed 20 3# packages of bees but due to some dire issues I could not assemble the frames before I installed my bees so I went with a top bar style frame in a Langstroth hive. Now I understand that most people inspect their hives right away but I am waiting a week before I open mine up.

    I originally intended to go with a screened bottom board with a top entrance and foundationless frames but circumstances dictated that I go with a solid bottom board (it's still fairly cold here and I'm going to change to SBB soon) a top entrance and a top bar for a frame. The bees actually seem happy and are eating upwards of 10 - 20 pounds of sugar (in syrup) a day. The people I bought my bees from told me not to inspect for at least a week after i got the bees but I lost a queen when I was installing (which ran into night time) so I grabbed what I thought was her and chucked her into the hive and closed the hive up. On that particular hive i stuck a bore-scope into one of the entrances and saw that the bees had drawn out quite a bit of comb already but I couldn't tell if they had found a nectar source, (the neighbors 1/4 mile away have an orchard that is in full bloom right now) or if there was brood etc. but they had actually drawn a lot of comb. I suppose my biggest concern is this: Will the top bar set up work well throughout the season or should I make more top bars and assemble the 200 frames and slowly replace the existing top bars with full frames that have cut comb placed into the new frames. I'm just worried about crazy comb that's hard to inspect and generally a big sticky mess.

    The hives are on a farm and will be used in an agricultural setting but I must add that in 2 days I will inspect the hives for the first time and release any queens, check for brood, pollen etc. The other thing is that within a half mile of where my hives are located, there is 400 acres of hay which will be blooming in approximately 3 weeks so I am expecting a gargantuan nectar flow at that time.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Columbia county, New York, USA
    Posts
    1,535

    Default Re: Unconventional Beekeeping

    If you have top bars which are butted up against each other forming a solid top surface, how are the bees going to get up and down from one box to the other vertically?
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Greensburg, Ky.
    Posts
    1,148

    Default Re: Unconventional Beekeeping

    You might want to cut a groove along the sides of your top bar frames so the bees will beable to travel from one box to the other!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
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    676

    Default Re: Unconventional Beekeeping

    the top bars have dados on the sides, they can be made into frames so theres 3/4" 'holes' that are formed for the bees to move up if the top bars were butted up together. Theres actually about 3/8 - 1/2" of space between the bars.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    5,913

    Default Re: Unconventional Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by rwurster View Post
    I suppose my biggest concern is this: Will the top bar set up work well throughout the season or should I make more top bars and assemble the 200 frames and slowly replace the existing top bars with full frames that have cut comb placed into the new frames. I'm just worried about crazy comb that's hard to inspect and generally a big sticky mess.
    You will discover the answer to this very soon when you attempt to check the hives.

    Sure, making frames is work. But I'd recommend making the time for it.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Nelson, South Island, New Zealand
    Posts
    531

    Default Re: Unconventional Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by rwurster View Post

    The hives are on a farm and will be used in an agricultural setting but I must add that in 2 days I will inspect the hives for the first time and release any queens, check for brood, pollen etc. The other thing is that within a half mile of where my hives are located, there is 400 acres of hay which will be blooming in approximately 3 weeks so I am expecting a gargantuan nectar flow at that time.
    hay produces a nectar flow?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Beckville Texas,USA
    Posts
    297

    Default Re: Unconventional Beekeeping

    Where he is located, by hay he probably means alfalfa. Where I first kept bees was about 50 miles northeast of there in the middle of 600 acres of alfalfa. With a little rain at the right times the flow was mighty.
    I would suggest getting a handle on those hives as soon as possible. When the flow starts they are going to get out of hand quickly.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Nelson, South Island, New Zealand
    Posts
    531

    Default Re: Unconventional Beekeeping

    Thanks for that Growing Boy where I'm from hay is just long grass

    frazz

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,764

    Default Re: Unconventional Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by rwurster View Post
    For a year I have been researching and reading up on beekeeping in preparation for my first season. I recently purchased and installed 20 3# packages of bees but due to some dire issues I could not assemble the frames before I installed my bees so I went with a top bar style frame in a Langstroth hive. Now I understand that most people inspect their hives right away but I am waiting a week before I open mine up.
    Yup, I think you are going to find a big sticky messa when you try to manipulate these hives. Good luck w/ that.

    One thing you should learn, and this pertains to life in general, not just beekeeping, do things when you need to, not when you want to. If you werte planning on using Langstroth Type equipment, you'll probably learn that you should have handled things differently.

    I hope you are not too discouraged by what you find.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    676

    Default Re: Unconventional Beekeeping

    I checked the first 3 hives tonight and the drawn comb was straight and the bees were doing fine. Ive assembled frames for the second deep box in anticipation for the nectar flow from the alfalfa hay. the bottom boxes dont look to be as big of a mess as i anticipated them to be ill build some more frames and swap out top bars that comb hasnt been drawn on with foundationless frames. Things look like theyll work themselves out into the standardized frame setup. i am going to let one hive go with top bars only just to see what the bees do when they do what they would do naturally without the constraints of having to build within the constraints of a frame.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,913

    Default Re: Unconventional Beekeeping

    Rwurster, to get the bees to build the combs centrally from the top bars of the frames, you'll need to hang something in the groove in the middle, a thin strip of comb foundation waxed or glued in, works well, to encourage the bees to start the comb just where you want it.

    Lots of natural comb folks do this, it is not considered cheating.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,121

    Default Re: Unconventional Beekeeping

    There is a reason the sides of a top bar hive are slanted inward. With top bars in a lang hive the bees will probable attach the comb to the hive sides, & you will have a mess.
    If you want to go foundationless in the lang box, use 4 sided frames.

    Let us know how it works out in a month or 2.
    Dan

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    berkley county, WV
    Posts
    429

    Default Re: Unconventional Beekeeping

    KQ6ARis very right, There is a reason the sides of a top bar hive are slanted inward. I made some frames to use for cutouts, and made them a little short on the length of the bottom. The bees glued them all into the brood box. I quit inspecting the bottom box after about the 6th time of prying them out. waited untill the next spring and changed the whole box. chucked the frames and made some that were right.If you want to go foundationless in the lang box, I would definately go with a full frame and no foundation.
    Last edited by bigbore; 04-23-2011 at 08:40 AM. Reason: wrong quite
    welcome to your new addiction!!

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