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  1. #1
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    Jan 2012
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    Austin, TX
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    Default 3 Foot Long TBH---Have you tried it?

    Hi everyone,

    I've just been informed that my TBH is too short! It is a Golden Mean Hive design from backayardhive.com. It's only 3 feet and I've just been told they need to be 4 feet to prevent over-crowding.

    Has anyone else out there used a 3 foot hive (or one with about 18 bars)?

    What has your experience been like? How often do you experience swarms? What's your honey production like? Do they get very hot very easily?

    Thanks,
    Kathie

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Brainerd, MN
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    533

    Default Re: 3 Foot Long TBH---Have you tried it?

    One thing you have to consider is the volume of the hive. I think those Golden Mean Hives have large combs from what I can recall. If that's the case, you may be ok with a 3ft hive. The biggest thing I worry about with 3ft hives is swarming.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Albuquerque, New Mexico
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    192

    Default Re: 3 Foot Long TBH---Have you tried it?

    I have never used 3 foot hives. Mine are 42 inches long. You should have about 24 bars in yours. You will have more swarm problems in a shorter hive because they fill it up faster, requiring more and closer management. In six weeks one of my colonies has built 22 bars of comb. Another hive built 18 bars in 6 weeks with 8 full bars of honey. I don't think there is anything magic about 4 feet. It is a little less convenient to build a 4 foot hive because of lumber sizes. I can get 4 covers from a single sheet of plywood for a 42 inch hive, but that would not be possible with a 4 foot hive. A 4 foot hive would be harder for me to transport too. When you get up to 4 feet long and bigger, the queen pheromone apparently gets really weak at the far end of the hive, which apparently can cause problems. I have read that 5 feet is too long and they bees won't do well in it. As for overcrowding, I want a crowded hive. Up to 4 feet or so it probably doesn't matter how big the hive is, the bees will probably fill the available space and become as crowded as they like. You just need to manage the size by opening the brood nest and taking out bars of honey if it gets too full. You want to be sure there is lots of open space in the brood nest at all times. A bigger hive will probably produce more honey if they fill it up. I'm not sure what you mean by hot. If you mean temperature, they seem to manage that pretty well in my hives with adequate ventilation. If you mean temperament, I don't think the size of the hive has much impact on that.

    Ted

  4. #4
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    Jan 2012
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    Austin, TX
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    80

    Default Re: 3 Foot Long TBH---Have you tried it?

    Thanks Ted.

    By hot, I mean temperature. I'm thinking about adding posts to the corners to raise the roof and adding screening to to bottom. Can you visualize that? It would lift the roof by about an inch or two and the space between would be hardwire cloth. Do you think that might work well?

    By "You just need to manage the size by opening the brood nest and taking out bars of honey if it gets too full. You want to be sure there is lots of open space in the brood nest at all times." Could you please talk a little about this? How do I "open the brood nest"? How do I determine when I should remove honey? Where and how could I supply the open space in the brood nest?

    Thanks.

  5. #5

    Default Re: 3 Foot Long TBH---Have you tried it?

    It's cool folks, I got this

    I am currently in the process of constructing a 4' hive because my 3' has been outgrown. I posted about it a week or so ago, asking how to do a successful transfer once I have it built. Now as Bush_84 stated, the volume is what really matters. I somewhat double screwed myself with the 3' TBH. What I did extra was cut the hive down in height, so instead of an 11" ceiling, I took it down to about 9". I did this out of fear that the combs would get too heavy and collapse when it gets up to 110 degrees this summer. Doesn't matter, I had one collapse the other day anyway, after doing a general hive inspection.

    Anyway, I'd recommend the 4' hive with the movable back wall. I used the leader board like this to keep my girls cozy when I first installed them. Each week, I open the hive and move the leader board back a few spaces, adding bars into the brood nest as I went. That is what was meant by "opening up the brood nest". The new bars are pulled with comb rapidly, and just as quickly as the comb is built, the queen has laid it.

    As it stands, I have moved the leader board as far as I can, actually removed it altogether. Looking the hive last night, I observed comb being built on the second to last bar, and it has capped brood on it. So it seems that I have a 3' brood nest, with no bars of pure honeycomb to speak of. I'm hoping that when I transfer then to the 4' hive, the extra space will finally allow them to start storing up honey. If they fill that one with brood too, I guess I'll have to try my hand at a 5' hive (mentioned above as not a good idea) or find a way to add a super on top of the hive.

    For future reference, I do not recommend a 3' TBH. I will always build 4' minimum, or 42" as another suggested, and just use the leader board as a false back wall. This way you can, in effect, have as small of a hive as you want, but should always have room to grow.
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  6. #6

    Default Re: 3 Foot Long TBH---Have you tried it?

    Granted I have not officially harvested any honey yet, only incidental honey when fixing comb issues. I think as long as you are comfortable that the bees have enough to hold them over, you can harvest whenever you want. Just make sure in the fall to leave them with enough to last over the winter. And if you take too much still, you'll just have to feed them. Seems silly to harvest too much honey, sell it, and then find yourself buying sugar and pollen patties to make up for it. I guess you can always feed back honey if you have it. I've got a list of people just waiting and salivating for some honey. I gave a sample to my neighbors the other day, and when I later asked how they liked it, the response was something like "ooohhh my Godddd..." as his eyes rolled back in his head and he drifted momentarily to heaven. Given that response, I'm thinking I may just be the sweetest person on my street. Ok, so the pun was lame, who cares.
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Albuquerque, New Mexico
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    192

    Default Re: 3 Foot Long TBH---Have you tried it?

    Quote Originally Posted by KatGold View Post
    I'm thinking about adding posts to the corners to raise the roof and adding screening to to bottom. Can you visualize that? It would lift the roof by about an inch or two and the space between would be hardwire cloth. Do you think that might work well?
    I have raised roofs on two of my hives. The tops have frames and the frames sit on parts of the hive body. There is no screen. I like having the space because it potentially allows better ventilation, space for feeding if necessary, and provides a still air space for insulation. My tops have an inch of foam insulation in them above the air space. I am not sure why you would need the screen.

    Quote Originally Posted by KatGold View Post
    How do I "open the brood nest"? How do I determine when I should remove honey? Where and how could I supply the open space in the brood nest?
    In the spring I open the brood nest by putting an empty bar or a bar of empty comb in the front of the brood nest, giving the bees a place to build new empty brood comb. If the hive is already full, I remove a bar of honey fromt the back. Later in the spring, you can open it in the middle. You want to be sure you don't seperate the brood so much that the cluster can't keep it warm on cool nights, so don't do this before the nighttime temperatures stay above about 50 degrees. To do this you can put empty bars between existing brood bars to provide more brood space. You might see on forums people indicating how they open brood using a letter notation. They use E for empty frames or bars or empty comb, B for brood, and H for honey. So if you have a hive that looks like BBBBHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, you probably need to open the brood nest. If it is cool at night you could open the nest so it looks like EBBBBHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH and repeat this every two weeks or so until you have 8 to 10 frames for brood. If nights are warm and chilled brood won't be a problem you might even open it to EBEBEBEBHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. If you have empty bars at the back, just push everything back and put the empty bars in the front. The bars you take out with honey can be left out for the bees to clean so you have empty comb, you can save it to use as feed your hives or nucs, or you can harvest it. Colonies will swarm when they run out of brood space, so you need to be sure the brood space is adequate. In the spring especially, but with a small hive, swarming can occur at almost any time, so I would be taking honey out if you don't see many eggs or really young uncapped brood.

    One of my mentors in my area says that anything past 14 bars is his. He can harvest it. That is for my location for overwintering. You might need more or less depending on overwintering conditions where you are. I would recommend finding other beeks in your area who have experience with your area.

    Ted

  8. #8
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    Jan 2012
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    Chickamauga, Walker County, Georgia
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    357

    Default Re: 3 Foot Long TBH---Have you tried it?

    (Shrug...) They can only be "so big." We built 'em so that they could be carried by one person, and then built several. But even so, there will come a point where an ever-growing colony is going to have to find some new place to live unless you want to keep building hives. (Which, in retrospect, is not altogether a bad undertaking ...) That's what swarms are for. Sometimes you catch one; sometimes you give one away.

    We built 3 feet "or so" because one person can carry 'em and put 'em in place. Also partly depended on the length of the scrap-wood pieces we made 'em from.
    Last edited by mrobinson; 06-01-2012 at 12:38 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    North Pole, Alaska
    Posts
    145

    Default Re: 3 Foot Long TBH---Have you tried it?

    the golden mean isnt 36"es, its 26 accroding to the plans I have in hand. think the website says 28.5 I built two of them and have bees going so far so good but my temps are much cooler than most places. I am thinking of stretching it out to 36-40"es and keeping these as a possible overwinter "large nuc' box.

    The back yard hive is 36"es.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Essex, England, UK
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: 3 Foot Long TBH---Have you tried it?

    I have run two 3ft hives for a couple of years now. I think generally in the UK our colonys tend to be smaller than in the US. Therefore, the problem of them expanding and running out of room in a 3ft hive has not been a problem for me. Having said that, others will tell you they have switched to 4ft hives as it allows more room for ease of inspection and management. My reason for using 3ft hives is simply down to space in my back yard. I can get two 3ft hives on the hard standing available to me but do not have space for the 4ft hives. If space is not a problem, I would go for the 4ft hive.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Aguadilla - puerto rico
    Posts
    152

    Default Re: 3 Foot Long TBH---Have you tried it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Brueggen View Post
    It's cool folks, I got this

    I am currently in the process of constructing a 4' hive because my 3' has been outgrown. I posted about it a week or so ago, asking how to do a successful transfer once I have it built. Now as Bush_84 stated, the volume is what really matters. I somewhat double screwed myself with the 3' TBH. What I did extra was cut the hive down in height, so instead of an 11" ceiling, I took it down to about 9". I did this out of fear that the combs would get too heavy and collapse when it gets up to 110 degrees this summer. Doesn't matter, I had one collapse the other day anyway, after doing a general hive inspection.

    Anyway, I'd recommend the 4' hive with the movable back wall. I used the leader board like this to keep my girls cozy when I first installed them. Each week, I open the hive and move the leader board back a few spaces, adding bars into the brood nest as I went. That is what was meant by "opening up the brood nest". The new bars are pulled with comb rapidly, and just as quickly as the comb is built, the queen has laid it.

    As it stands, I have moved the leader board as far as I can, actually removed it altogether. Looking the hive last night, I observed comb being built on the second to last bar, and it has capped brood on it. So it seems that I have a 3' brood nest, with no bars of pure honeycomb to speak of. I'm hoping that when I transfer then to the 4' hive, the extra space will finally allow them to start storing up honey. If they fill that one with brood too, I guess I'll have to try my hand at a 5' hive (mentioned above as not a good idea) or find a way to add a super on top of the hive.

    For future reference, I do not recommend a 3' TBH. I will always build 4' minimum, or 42" as another suggested, and just use the leader board as a false back wall. This way you can, in effect, have as small of a hive as you want, but should always have room to grow.
    is this what you talking about? http://s155.photobucket.com/albums/s...rHiveSuper.jpg

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Aguadilla - puerto rico
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    152

    Default Re: 3 Foot Long TBH---Have you tried it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bush_84 View Post
    One thing you have to consider is the volume of the hive. I think those Golden Mean Hives have large combs from what I can recall. If that's the case, you may be ok with a 3ft hive. The biggest thing I worry about with 3ft hives is swarming.
    you are 110% right , is like comparing a deep super to a med they both are the same size in length and width but a diff in how deep 9 inch for a super deep to 6 inch for a med, that alone make a huge diff,so making a top bar with more volume is like adding more length to the hive

  13. #13
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    Jan 2012
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    Austin, TX
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    80

    Default Re: 3 Foot Long TBH---Have you tried it?

    Quote Originally Posted by RAFAEL/PR View Post
    Is that super a Lang super?? Is it just placed on top with one of the top bars removed?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,973

    Default Re: 3 Foot Long TBH---Have you tried it?

    Personally, I think supering a top bar hive is a losing battle for a number of reasons. One, it's hard to get the bees to move up and take advantage of it - Two you often have to modify bars to make space, and if you don't, it's even harder to get them to move up - three, you end up with comb of different dimensions than the rest of your gear. Headaches abound.

    The tbh is what it is, and its beauty is in its simplicity. If you want to stack boxes, there are better suited designs, like Langs and the Warre.

    If you just want to do it to try to add room to a small tbh, I think your energy is better spent making another hive.

    If you've got swarm cells, they're going to swarm. If you try to stop them by adding room, and getting rid of queen cells, you're more likely to end up with a queenless hive. Once there's swarm cells, the best you can do is split them.

    Adam

  15. #15

    Default Re: 3 Foot Long TBH---Have you tried it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    Personally, I think supering a top bar hive is a losing battle for a number of reasons. One, it's hard to get the bees to move up and take advantage of it - Two you often have to modify bars to make space, and if you don't, it's even harder to get them to move up - three, you end up with comb of different dimensions than the rest of your gear. Headaches abound.

    The tbh is what it is, and its beauty is in its simplicity. If you want to stack boxes, there are better suited designs, like Langs and the Warre.

    If you just want to do it to try to add room to a small tbh, I think your energy is better spent making another hive.

    If you've got swarm cells, they're going to swarm. If you try to stop them by adding room, and getting rid of queen cells, you're more likely to end up with a queenless hive. Once there's swarm cells, the best you can do is split them.

    Adam
    I have abandoned the idea of supering my TBH. I built a 4' box and transfered the bees yesterday. As of this morning all appears well. I am planning on actually making a split back into the old 3' box once the hive gets established in the 4' box. Funny, I was apprehensive going into this beekeeping venture, so I only got one package and bought the bare minimum in material. Now I am hooked and thinking about making a split.

    Here is the summary from yesterday's activity. Enjoy! http://youtu.be/0QmIj6ePe7M
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    North Pole, Alaska
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    145

    Default Re: 3 Foot Long TBH---Have you tried it?

    Tom, I was thinking of going vert on my next tbh after reading this and after talking to him about it.

    If nothing else putting a super over the honey comb section and leaving the brood chamber area solid bars. I've seen this hive and really liked the idea though I can start to see some problems you can run into with it.

    My hives are slow so a super right now this year I doubt I'll be needing, though that could change in a hurry I reckon.

    The nice thing about having a set up that allows them to go vert...is feeding. In a small hive like the one I have I think it's a simple fix though I'm not sure my bees will agree lol. A few bars with the pan head screws for spacers on the end 1" wide or slightly bigger to allow them to go up...or one slot anyways and a miller feeder fixes the feeding problem in a smaller hive.

    My next one's going to be longer.

    Anyways thought you might like reading this. Steve's the same guy I bought my bees from.

    http://www.alaskabees.com/files/Topbars_in_AK_PDF.pdf

  17. #17
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    Apr 2012
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    Vancouver Island North, BC, Canada
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    19

    Default Re: 3 Foot Long TBH---Have you tried it?

    My first TBH is 36" long internally and has a volume of about 55 litres. I've seen designs that are 48" long with the same volume. Does length really matter if the volume is the same? Does the actual number of combs vs total surface area of the combs mean anything to bees?

  18. #18
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    Nov 2009
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: 3 Foot Long TBH---Have you tried it?

    Volume is the important thing. But you don't want individual combs that are too huge, as they are easier to break, and more difficult to handle.

    Adma

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    Postville, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    380

    Default Re: 3 Foot Long TBH---Have you tried it?

    I agree that overall volume is important ... but I also think, once the hive volume is chosen, the depth and width of the hive is also important, since those measurements determine the number and length of the bars in the hive and the size of the comb built on each bar. For a given volume, bars that are "not too long" and "not too deep" have advantages.

    In hot weather, combs that are too deep will break easier, especially when filled with honey. Combs that are too long tend to have more issues with the bees building comb with natural curves that wander off one bar onto an adjacent bar. My recollection is that some common measurements that work well for many folks is a hive depth similar to a medium Lang super (about 6 1/2 to 7 inches) and a bar length of roughly 16-18 inches. A search on BeeSource will dig up the actual numbers, since I'm speaking from memory here.

    I think a reasonable number of bars in a hive -- say 24 to 30 -- offer more options for the bees and for the beekeeper. When you remove one smaller comb from the honey stores, you will remove a smaller part of the stored food reserves from the colony. One smaller bar of brood removed to boost a weak colony will remove fewer of the mother hive's future workforce, while still helping out the troubled hive.

    Be aware also that the broodnest does not stay in a "ball" for the entire season. It changes shape and size dramatically over the summer. If the bees have fewer combs in the hive, the broodnest will end up being spread along a narrow band at the bottom of the combs by summer's end, as the bees try to slow down the queen's laying by filling the upper parts of the combs with stores. If the bees have more bars in the hive, the queen may lay less in the honey storage area as this process occurs.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Roanoke, VA
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    1,432

    Default Re: 3 Foot Long TBH---Have you tried it?

    Quick recommendation. It was mentioned in earlier postings, but if you are purchasing lumber you really want to keep the total length to something just under 4ft in length. This probably can't be overstated. Most lumber doesn't come in 6 foot lengths and depending on how you build your hive you may end up having to purchase some 8x just to have something that is 50 inches long (the roof, for example). This creates a lot of waste and can increase the cost of a hive dramatically. Kind of like a two for one, pay for two and you get one. I would guess that 40 to 44 inches is probably close to about right to avoid this, plus as previously mentioned you can transport it easier.

    If you are building from scrap you can do whatever makes the most sense in your case, but you may want to standardize on your following board size so that you can transfer between hives if you need to in the future.

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