It struck me as the usual misrepresentations and half-truths that TBH enthusiasts promote.
It's a shame, as I've otherwise found much of value in Les' writings.
It struck me as the usual misrepresentations and half-truths that TBH enthusiasts promote.
It's a shame, as I've otherwise found much of value in Les' writings.
This spike in swarms originating from top bars is caused by the combination of beekeeping inexperience, plus the fact that most KTBHs are undersized swarm-machines.
I started a thread about this a while ago Top Bar Misinformation Propogated by "The Experts"
I quoted an article which may be the same one the op is talking about. I wrote back to him, asking about what data he was basing all of his judgements, and never heard back. I know he likely meant well, though.
There is too much misinformation both for and against tbh's. Managements is really the key to successes, failures, and how "natural" the bees are living. It's not the hive type that determines that.
I presently have 13 colonies, and 5 of those are in tbh's. I have wintered successfully for two winters here in Nova Scotia in them.
Tbh's are great in many ways. They also have their challenges.
They are very simple to make if built in their "traditional" form. They are very inexpensive to build, particularly if you use reclaimed material. They are very 'clean' to work, as you rarely get into much propolis when handling top bars. The limited opening also makes them relatively quiet to work, when compared to the necessary 'disassembling' required to do a complete inspection of a lang.
On the other hand, they require more management to avoid swarming, and to maximize production. They are not easy to move, so this makes them very difficult to use for pollenation. They don't super well. It's often a challenge to interface with other beekeepers, as most run langstroth equipment. So getting a nuc can present challenges. There are far fewer people with extensive experience with them, so finding a mentor is near impossible for many people, and there are very few books to help either.
The fact is that the tbh is for different needs than the langstroth. Each hive offers a different set of benefits and challenges. The recent rise in popularity of alternative hive types such as the kenyan and tanzanian tbh, as well as the Warré have just broadened the appeal of beekeeping. So I think they're great. The whole realm is richer for them.
That was a very nicely presented, carefully thought out examination...great resource!
My concern as well is the swarming issue and how rattled my neighbours may get. They were quite upset about the one swarm I had this season (my langstroth hive was/is unusually strong). I think if that happened a lot, they would petition the municipality to rethink backyard beekeeping.
It is clear that if I stock a TBH next year, I will have to put in a lot of monitoring effort. I look forward to someone elucidating just how that is done!
Your neighbors should be glad you're not charging them for the privilege they've been blessed with. Most people can go their entire lives without ever having the opportunity to witness, firsthand, a swarm of honey bees, one of the natural wonders of the world. Swarms are almost entirely harmless to all other living creatures - the bees only concern being to find themselves a home of their own.
Whether you're keeping bees in Langstroth, Warre, TBH, or any other hive design, despite your management, you are likely always going to have swarms. Your efforts to appease your less-educated neighbors, is commendable, but may be futile.
Joseph Clemens -- Website
Sergey, I agree some of the phrasing made the document sound a bit biased. But he raised good points about management of both hive designs. I do like the Langstroths for some reasons, but find the lifting of boxes a problem (and aside from not liking squishing bees when I put them back together, I think taking the stack apart always puts the queen at risk, and may be how I lost mine). I will likely convert my Langstroth setup so that I have all shallow supers. The deep boxes are now filling with honey for winter and I can't manage them by myself unless I swap frames out into an empty box and them swap them all back.
Joseph, I agree swarms are a natural wonder...I am actually sorry I missed seeing it myself! But people are so removed from nature and disorder these days. They are shocked and frightened by unfamiliar, chaotic natural events. I have accepted that if future swarms tip my neighbour over the edge, I will have to find a beeyard for my hive/s. Which is a shame as I must live in some kind of nectar paradise...the hive is presently stuffed with honey and without really knowing what I am doing (noob), and with the bees making all comb new (first year), I have already taken 3 gallons of honey and expect to get that much again before the season ends. About 60 pounds of honey (I think the usual conversion is 10 lb. per gallon?) all told? So I think my back yard has been a pretty good spot for bees (the hive population strikes me as unusually large as well). I am only sorry the local blueberry fields are just out of range as that gives a nice flavour to honey, although I think all of them use pesticides, so perhaps it is just as well they are out of reach.
Exactly! Every time I smash the bee in the Lang, I feel, I am a serial killer! I hate moving boxes and disturbing bees. I am not saying that one beehive type is better than another. I am just saying that many types of beehives are suitable. Some more, some less. That article shows only TBH from Lang's prospective,which is biased in my opinion.
As for keeping bees in the urban environment - neighbors problem, sounds familiar. I am giving honey for all my neighbors and they love me and my bees! But, we need to remember that bees are not domesticated, they are actually wild animals. So, they needs to be treated accordingly. Bees sting when their home under attack. They normally do not attack first. It is usually human (or animal sometime), who triggers their reaction. Swarming is a natural way of bees reproduction. No swarms, no reproduction. Bees need natural reproduction to select proper genes to fight diseases, CCD and other disasters. Over-breeding is bad as it bad for any animals, dogs, etc. Sergey
I suggest that you might want to take a ride and attend this presentation. For a copy of Wyatt Mangum's book and to hear him speak.
Western Wilson, I think you will find that our honey flow is very close to ending leaving them with only enough forage for their daily needs. So be careful as to how much honey you take or you may end up having to feed 6 gallons of syrup so they can make the winter.
I've been running TBH's for a number of years and can say that they are manageable in our area. The biggest issue that I see has nothing to do with hive style but lack of ones understand as to working with a natural comb hive. There are several ways to avoid swarming of bees which apply to any hive. Are you a member of a bee club? If not we have the Richmond Beekeepers Assoc. that has a good mix of Beekeepers some using TBH's that may be helpful to you. We meet every second Tuesday at the Richmond Nature Reserve on Westminster Hwy. The next meeting being in Sept.
Thanks for that Delta Bay! My three lower deeps are stuffed with honey, so I think I have enough there to get them through the winter, especially as I hope to get the third deep off, leaving them in two for the winter. I have two shallow supers also nearly ready to harvest...chock full o' honey....but I will keep back half my harvest in case I need to feed. I would imagine our long, cold and wet springs mean feeding for sure.
I was warned that Aug 15th is when the flow usually ends. Hope this late summer means a longer flow, but at this point I do have more than enough for giving away, so I am happy.
I do have the Sept. date for the Richmond meeting in my calendar and plan to be there. I need some solid advice on swarm management both for the tbh and the langstroth as one neighbour is not too happy with the bees.
My big problem right now is getting requeening done if the girls do not have a viable supercedure cell made on tomorrow's inspection. I would like to get a queen under a queen excluder ASAP in order to start gettting organized for winter.
My only beef with top bars is that some (to many) people claim that they prevent disease, are "natural", or other marketing terms. Well-meaning new beekeepers in turn can have a frustrating time when they find out that they still have honeybees in this magical apparatus, and give up on beekeeping. Bees is bees, and the equipment style is simply a management choice, not a political affiliation (or a magic bullet).
Bees, brews and fun
in Lyons, CO
So far these comments are pretty much what I expected. I have TBH's and Langs. I am considering converting all my TBHs to long box hives (horizontal lang). Why? The because I get the benefit of both models. Easy liftng but all the benefits of frames. After working with TBH's I just don't get it. The comb is just as natural in frames as topbars.
INspections are just as invasive because all topbars must be moved to inspect the next bar. When inspecting a lang, you only have to remove a few frames to inspect the whole hive. So easier or less invasive inspection arguement does'nt hold water..
It takes more materials to construct a TBH than it does a long Lang because the sides are longer (because of the slant). I make all my boxes out of "practically-for-nothing" salvaged materials. So material costs are technically more expensive (although constructing hives out of salvaged materials sure takes a lot of time and labor)
The only arguement that seems to stand is that there is less lifting with TBHs and a long lang has the same benefit.
All in all, the TBH is a fun concept but the long lang is seems to be better - what am I missing?
I have a golden mean (Backyard Beehives) and I love it for three reasons: 1. observation windows are awesome; 2. only needing to lift out a few bars at a time is less stressful for both the bees and myself; 3. it's very aestetically pleasing. Drawbacks for me are only that I will never really get a 'big' honey harvest, because I need to harvest a couple of combs at a time, and then they must draw it back out with fresh wax - which isn't all bad because I can stick the empty bars into the broodnest and just keep checkerboarding them.
As for me, all I know is that I know nothing...
I also have a window in my hive and it is a big help. I can go to the hive on my way to the car in the morning. Peek inside, make sure everything is good. I'm not saying you can't have window on a lang, but not many do if any.
I believe that the TBH HAS to be better for the health of the bees..
My logic is that if you put them in a lang with "designated size comb foundations", you are then FORCING them to make honey, or forcing them to make babies in cells not sized by them. Then, you take the choice away from the bees. In nature, they will build what "they" need. In a TBH they are more likely to do the same.
When you try to increase your honey output, you are going to decrease something else since all tasks take energy and time for the bees to complete. Maybe it will decrease the time and energy they would have used to clean themselves or police for parasites. Who knows?
As for ease of access, the TBH kills the lang. Here is why. A TBH can be fully examined with no more than two or three bars out at any time...And you can check every single bar and never have a large opening. And the bars are light.
To check every bar in a lang of course you will have to lift each super off to access the one below it. Then, the bottom of each successive super is a huge opening.
Remember that Lang's first objective was honey production. And being able to re-use the honey comb. Re-using honey comb has its own inherent risks of contamination too if not properly treated..
Hey Maddox, if you put your langs together are you going to take out all the intermediate walls? Or are you going to use the frames only? Your TBH doesn't have to have sloped sides if you don't want. Tanzanian vs Kenyan.
Maddox, that makes good sense...have you got photos etc.? I have heard so little about long box hives/horizontal Langs and would like to hear more. If only Langs rolled out like drawers!
Langs do not have to be run with foundation anymore that TBHS do. It is just as simple to run foundationless frames as it is to run topbars. So the bees still draw cells naturally - with any cell size they prefer. The advantage is that the combs in frames are easier to manage. Less breakage and they are even extractable (in a basket extractor, not a radial extractor). So, in that sense, they save the bees a lot of work because we are not destroying their combs constantly.
The first goal of any beehive is the health of the bees, not honey production. We cannot force the bees to use their energy in any way. They still decide how to allocate the energy within the hive. Langs cannot "make" them produce more honey, they just provide better opportunities for them to make honey. I think the real effect we are seeing is that when bees are kept in horizontal hives instead of vertical hives, they produce less honey. Horizontal hives are easier for the beekeeper, but not necessarily better for the bees.
That being said, I do a lot of cutouts and I see bees choose cavities of both orientations - horizontal and vertical. Do they have a preference or is it just opportunity?
The ease of access in TBHs argument does not stand up. To examine any topbar, the other topbars in front of it need to be moved. The whole nest needs to be disturbed if you want to do a full inspection. This is no different from a lang, where a frame has to be moved to see the frame next to it. And, in both hive styles we only need to pull out enough frames to get a good picture of the hive health. in neither hive do we need to pull all the frames. So, they are essentially the same. As I've said, I have both TBH's and langs. I understand the benefits/drawbacks of both.
I am asking the forum here why a horizontal lang (a 4-5 foot long, horizontal hive. Like a Topbar but with frames) doesn't have the same benefits of a topbar with none of the drawbacks. It actually has all the benefits of a TBH plus the benefits of using frames.
I've run both types of hives and understand the "cool" factor of seeing bees make their own comb in a TBH. But after the coolness factor wears off, I get tired of constantly damaging their hive by destroying the combs. A horizontal lang lets me see them draw natural comb (foundationless frames) and lets me reuse the combs. I do rotate out combs to prevent contamination build up.
Keefis is also right about TBH not having to have sloped sides. This fact destroys the argument that TBH's are less expensive to build than horizontal langs. One way or the other, materials have to be used to form some kind of box that stands up to the weather. Here in the US, with all the scrap materials laying around for the asking, is there any reason to use brush, grass, sticks, plywood etc to make hives that fall apart? There is so much wood out there for free, why not use it? If people in developing countries had access to the scrap materials we have, don't you think they would use it? If this is truly about the bees, why are some people housing them in substandard housing?
Westernwilson - That may be a cool idea! have the hive slide out like the heavy duty tool box in my truck. It would be expensive but fun! Talk about no lifting!
Maddox, I agree with a lot of what you're saying. I have both as well. The only thing I differ with you on is the cost of a lang vs. a top bar. You say in post #33:
"It takes more materials to construct a TBH than it does a long Lang because the sides are longer (because of the slant)."
Maybe - if your lang is only a few boxes in total height - and you don't count frames or bottom board, inner and outer cover. You also mention labor being a cost and that's true. If you compare the time and material to build an entire lang with two deeps, and a medium - or three deeps, covers bottom and frames - vs. a 4 foot ktbh with 18" bars and 12" sloping sides, the two won't even be close. A langstroth is way more complicated to build.
If you buy frames, a lang gets pretty easy, and that is what I have done. Even more, I have also designed covers and bottoms to be simpler and less expensive. If you go that route, I agree - a lang set-up is great.
I think a horizontal lang is probably a great way to go. The only thing for me is that it still makes moving a hive hard. But in all other respects, it's probably a wonderful set up. I still have to try one.
I'm currently experimenting with a horizontal Lang, and as you observe, they incorporate desirable features from both platforms.