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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Brainerd, MN
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    544

    Default Horizontal Theory

    An old timer in my area once told me that the bees in my TBH would fail because bees don't move horizontally. I just ignored him and went on my way. my TBH is in it's second year and each year it attempted to swarm. I also noticed that the bees really don't build well away from the entrance (mine being on the far end). So my new theory is that the bees won't build away from the entrance well. This spring I shifted the combs over and they filled that space relatively quickly.

    I also noticed between my split from this year and when I started my first TBH from a nuc last year that they have a hard time building comb past a nectar filled comb. Last year they didn't start building more comb for some time because the last comb was filled with nectar/pollen. Once I added a bar between the 4th and 5th bar they immediately got to work. The same thing is happening with a split I made back in May.

    So what I propose we give thought to is adding space at the front of the hive (at least for those of us who run entrances on the far end), and doing it routinely. The bees will build comb out towards the entrance and extend their brood nest as they need. I plan on doing this much more aggressively than I did this year. This year I added like 4 empty bars at the from. I am considering doubling that. I do not think that the extra space will really effect the bees poorly, but rather I suspect that it will help to prevent swarming. It will allow them to better control the expansion of their brood nest on their time. I think add less pressure on them compared to adding empty bars in the middle of the brood nest, not that it's a bad option.

    What are your thoughts?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    florence, sc usa
    Posts
    70

    Default Re: Horizontal Theory

    This is my first year with a topbar hive. I installed a package in it on May 15th. So far the have built on four bars and they are all on the entrance end. They skipped the first bar and started on the second. After you said what you did, I'm thinking that I should just shove them back and add about four or five bars in front. What do you think? Maybe a side entrance would be better. Don't really know why I opted for the end entrance. I have been pretty frustrated with the topbar hive, between cutting comb to remove the bars and them some breaking off and having to reattach and got a bad queen and had to replace her. Been alot of fun so far, ha.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Baytown, TX., USA.
    Posts
    651

    Default Re: Horizontal Theory

    Your observation makes sense to me. I started a TBH this April 15 and they seem to have stalled at 8 bars.I realize summer is here and they will slow down but not just stop, here we have much still in bloom. The deep Lang next by , started new at the same time is needing the second super. So... I will drop in a few bars at the front and watch what happens.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Brainerd, MN
    Posts
    544

    Default Re: Horizontal Theory

    I don't have a direct comparison, but I did start a Lang nuc this year. They are in eight frame equipment and have two deeps full and are starting on a medium. So in comparison my tbh has swarmed before it passed filling it half way both years. So I have to think of something to allow my bees to fill this hive!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    North Pole, Alaska
    Posts
    145

    Default Re: Horizontal Theory

    some rookie thoughts.... correct me if I'm wrong here....

    They wont grow comb they cant take care of (ie not enough nurse bees she wont lay more eggs, they wont draw more comb). I noticed mine wont anyways....since my weak hive has been hatching new workers...they are building more and more comb. Both hives had stalls in the comb production, when new bees came, they went back to building comb and the queen laid proportinatly.

    swarming is a yearly instinct, natures way of keeping the bee population going. Think I just read that today on Mikes page, I read too much daily I cant always remember where I found it at lol. Been reading a lot of Mike (and some of walts stuff today on Mikes page). Mike and Walt have a study going you should look into becoming a part of if they're still doing it on this very subject of swarming or the need to do so. and the possiblity of preventing it.....

    I was having this horizontal conversation today after work today about horizontal vs verticle and so far atleast in a wild swarm....I cant htink of a picture I've seen yet where they built vertically over horizontally. I think after reading and digging about over wintering they have a difficult time going from comb to comb horizontally in the colder weather than going vertically as a cluster....I dont fully understand how they move yet, but if they are willing to move as a group, vertically makes the most sense as atleast in my eyes I'd think theyd have to alteast slightly break cluster to go horizontal.

    That will be one pounds worth of wild rice . please ship too..... Miss northern MN!

    edited...I have found vertical pics.....learning as I go, feel free to educate !
    Last edited by AkDan; 06-26-2012 at 01:07 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Dunlap, TN, USA
    Posts
    146

    Default Re: Horizontal Theory

    Pretty interesting...

    Some recent observations I've made on my own are matching your own observations. I installed a 3# package on 05/17/12 and already have 14 bars with comb drawn out. I did notice that they didn't build very much towards the back of the hive. Mine actually started building closer to the center of the hive and have worked their way toward the entrance. They did build a few towards the back though.

    An interesting observation I made was that 2 weeks ago I split the brood nest with two empty bars. They drew both of these bars out within 1 weeks. However after I pulled them to inspect a full week later I found out they were just purely honey comb. The queen had crossed them as I found eggs in comb on both sides of these bars but she hadn't laid a single egg in either of these comb. On top of that there was a small new comb at the front of the brood nest, next to the entrance that was the same way... no eggs, just nectar. So I took both of the new bars back out of the brood nest and added them to the back of the hive. I then pushed all the brood comb back together.

    Not sure why they did that right in the middle of the brood nest but I thought it was interesting either way.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: Horizontal Theory

    So far I have great succes with filling out TBH. But I have yet to winter one succesfully. (4 years trying) My thoery is the winter cluster does not move lateraly. MB seems to have no problems and hes in the same zone so... at the moment I take my comb chunks from my TBH

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,774

    Default Re: Horizontal Theory

    I add empty bars to the brood nest to get them to expand. I make sure they start at one end of the hive going into winter.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM, USA
    Posts
    119

    Default Re: Horizontal Theory

    Michael, can you expand on that a little?

    What do you do to make sure they start at one end of the hive going into winter? Do you mean that you get the brood towards one end so the cluster will hang there and all honey/nectar to one side of that so they only go one direction? And does it matter if it is the end with the entrance or not?

    Thanks!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Eau Claire, Wisconsin, USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Horizontal Theory

    Neat discussion.

    FWIW, until Michael can reply, here's a link to his site that goes into a bit more detail about SantaFe's questions:

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm#winter

    Here are my 2 cent experiences/observations as a newbie, which may coincide actually:

    -Installed 4 chopped/cropped nuc frames with queen on June 1. They did a good job drawing about 2.5 TBs worth of new comb in about 9 days.

    -I moved these to the front (where the entrance is at one end, not in the middle) with one empty bar. The new pattern looked like this:

    l Partial TB l
    l Partial TB l
    l Partial TB l
    l Empty TB l
    l Chop nuc l
    l Chop nuc l
    l Chop nuc l
    l Chop nuc l

    The bees went to work on the 4 TBs now in the front (right at the entrance), but also started drawing some new comb on some empty TBs at the very end, behind the chopped nuc bars. About a week later, I added an empty TB between the new bars at the back and the last chopped nuc bar. So now the bars are as follows:

    l TB l
    l TB l
    l TB l
    l TB l
    l Chop nuc l
    l Chop nuc l
    l Chop nuc l
    l Chop nuc l
    l TB l
    l TB l
    l TB l

    The front 4 TBs appear to be completely drawn, from what I can tell looking up through the screen bottom. The last 3 TBs are about 3/4 to 1/2 drawn at this point, but there is little bee clustering on them. The chopped nuc bars are mostly brood, while some of the front 4 TBs showed some brood, but not a lot, when I checked about a week ago.

    I made all the above arrangements with a eye toward retiring the chopped nuc bars, but the overall experience sounds similar to Bush 84.

    Again, FWIW.

    Best.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,774

    Default Re: Horizontal Theory

    >What do you do to make sure they start at one end of the hive going into winter?

    First my entrance is on the end so usually they do without my help. Second, I check and if they are not, I would move the cluster (the bars with the bees clustered on it) to the entrance and move any honey adjacent to the cluster and any empty bars to the far end.

    >Do you mean that you get the brood towards one end so the cluster will hang there and all honey/nectar to one side of that so they only go one direction?

    By late fall there is no brood, but the cluster would be yes.

    > And does it matter if it is the end with the entrance or not?

    No. But it's easiest to get them there by having the entrance there.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    North Pole, Alaska
    Posts
    145

    Default Re: Horizontal Theory

    Tracer....

    Just out of curiosity, why keep adding bars and giving them new areas to draw comb when you want them to work the chopped sectoins???

    Just an idear, maybe move those chopped bars to something like

    tb, tb, chopped, tb, tb chopped, tb, tb follower board (or back of hive), to get them working those areas instead of a big 'odd' section between comb they've drawn out.

    I also have noticed odd laying in mine...they are still drawing comb in both hives and it begs to question was that portion ready to have eggs laid at the time the queen came through? My queen lays in diagnol bands in my strong hive, it makes for some neat pictures atleast for me, I'll post some this weekend from last weeks inspections....initially she filled the bulk of the comb, great pattern. Now its goofy patterns, I'd guess based off when the brood hatches, and the cells are cleaned up and finished being prepped for a new egg, and the timing of when she comes back through that area. As things hatch on the first round there was a lull, lots of empty comb...now she's laying again, and they are still drawing out comb at the same time. I assume that lull was caused by the deminising population of bees overall?

    The reason that question came up to begin with was in both of my hives when new there was comb with nectar...but 0 eggs (that I could find anyways)....it took a bit before I started seeing activity of her laying and if 8 days is the number for capped for me it was a few right around the end of week 2. Lots of capped sugar syrup/nectar but no laying activity. She was there for awhile and eventually layed eggs before I lost one queen. My strong hive started out even slower....now its almost full!

    I've finally found 3 day or less eggs the other day, and also noticed areas around the fringes that were empty mostly filled with nectar (or sugar syrup being I'm still feeding this hive try to help catch it up) again raising the question when is new comb ready for an egg? Or old comb that has brood hatched? I havent read much about that...might give me something to dig into tonight.

    Something tells me if you give those chopped bars time....she'll start laying on them and working them out. Moving things around a little may (or may not) expedite this?

    I am only comparing what's going on in my hives and in my head lol. They are still filling in holes in comb where I cut supercedure cells out... MOST of thats repaired, it just took time for them to work it.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM, USA
    Posts
    119

    Default Re: Horizontal Theory

    Thanks, Michael,

    Just wanted to make sure I understood.

    Thanks again!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,544

    Default Re: Horizontal Theory

    I used to be a big proponent of the TB hive (Kenyan style) for many reason, but mainly because I think it is more natural way of beekeeping. I build the hive and offered it to the swarm - they suffered a couple of weeks and finally left. Than I decided to convert Lang into TB (I was determined!) I made an "adapter", so my Lang deep with relatively small colony would sit on top of the TB and bees eventually will expand into TB. They ignored TB for few month. I purposely did not give them extra space in the deep to "motivate" them to use empty TB... they swarmed and swarm took 2/3 of bees. I gave up and convert them back into Lang. They are weak, but doing better.
    So, my theory is that some bees have a difficulties to move horizontally. It may be genetics or, they just don't like horizontal... My bees - they are very particular what the like and they don't. I guess, as anything with bees, one could "train" them to do anything, but if you let them to be - they have their own preferences. I think, they have sort of "collective wisdom/memory" and prefer conditions similar to what colony had in the past. In this sense, I would imagine that bees adapted to TB, would have difficulties to grow vertically if moved into Lang. This is totally weird because I know for sure that in Russia like 1000 years ago they used hollow horizontal logs as a beehive. It was called "koloda". Similarly, in Kenya, bees have no problem with horizontal. Sergey

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,555

    Default Re: Horizontal Theory

    Cerezha, when you put the lang on top did you have the exit in the top bar? I was thinking about trying this out, but it sounds like you experience wasn't great. I was going to put some comb in the top bar to entice them.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,544

    Default Re: Horizontal Theory

    Quote Originally Posted by shannonswyatt View Post
    Cerezha, when you put the lang on top did you have the exit in the top bar? I was thinking about trying this out, but it sounds like you experience wasn't great. I was going to put some comb in the top bar to entice them.
    Yes, I had exit/entrance through TB to motivate them to occupy TB. For a few month they used TB as an entrance hall. Than, they start building a comb inside TB just under Lang box like crazy - I was happy for a few weeks! Than, suddenly, when they draw 4 full frames of comb (no brood anything) - they swarm and took most of the bees. The rest of the bees was suffering, never use comb in TB. Finally, I returned Lang box back to its foundation and bees are happy now! Very strange and disappointing.

    Yes, I put a few combs partially with honey in TB - they even did not touch honey....

    I think, it is something about this particular TB or bees. My bees are literally feral and really do not like any changes. At the beginning, I was trying to "help' them... I made for them very nice top entrance with elegant landing "balcony" - they hated it! They plug the entrance with wax, propolis and some junk! Never saw anything like that!

    So, I think, you should try. There are bunch of success stories on the Internet. I guess, my case is very special... I still think that Kenyan hive design is the best.
    Good luck with your bees!

    Sergey
    Last edited by cerezha; 06-27-2012 at 04:29 PM.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,555

    Default Re: Horizontal Theory

    That is rather annoying. I was thinking of trying this but I was going to cut in some brood comb once they start to build. I guess the problem is they don't move down very well.

    I may still try it. I have some narrow top bars laying around that were basically scraps from when I created my other bars. I may try it and use those underneath. This way they will have bee space between those bars.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,544

    Default Re: Horizontal Theory

    Yes, this is exactly how I did - I create a bee-space between bars where Lang was sitting. Basically, I made an "inner cover" with the hole size of top bar area under the Lang. I put inner cover on top of TB and placed Lang's deep box on top. Since Lang's box was wider than TB, "inner cover" covers the bottom part of the Lang box, which was bigger than TB. I did it with love and hope that bees would like it... But again - try it, it does not hurt. If if does not work - you could just put Lang box back on its foundation.

    Also, one suggestion - if possible, try to stick to 19" length for the top bars. It makes life much easier since you may transplant Lang's frames (with slight modification) into TB. Also, for 19" length, you do not need an adapter. To be honest - I never tried 19" TBs. Looks too long to me... Sergey

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,555

    Default Re: Horizontal Theory

    Actually my bars are 19 inches and fit in a Lang box, but I think I still need to make an adapter. If I have time I'm going to work on it in the next week or two.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,544

    Default Re: Horizontal Theory

    Good luck! I hope it would work for you!

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