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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cochise County, AZ, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default TBH, How much space to give them?

    So I need a little clarification as I am currently managing my very first TBH and a friend of mine is coaxing me to be more aggressive than I care to be. I only took one class months ago and am in my 6th month of beekeeping. I originally bought a nuc and started a hive in the TBH.

    I remember hearing that you should give the hive one or two empty bars at either end of the brood so the actual hive is only say 10 or 12 bars with a cap bar. The remaining bars lie in wait until the beehive grows. My friend says I should open the cap and let them have all the bars the full length of the hive (4ft). The reason for the debate is that the hive size has not grown much, nor has there been much honey to harvest.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    151

    Default Re: TBH, How much space to give them?

    if they arent drawing out new comb then why give them all that space? I would try to control the space you give them so you monitor the growth - if the nectar flow kicks in and they start drawing comb then you can adjust. If you give them the remaining 3+ feet then you MAY run into issues with them drawing the comb crosswise across more frames than wanted leading to more problems. Id just give them a few bars and add more as needed.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cochise County, AZ, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: TBH, How much space to give them?

    Yes, now that I am doing some more reading I remember. Giving them too many bars could result in comb that is irregular and not straight.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Dunlap, TN, USA
    Posts
    146

    Default Re: TBH, How much space to give them?

    Personally I dont think it matters too much... Both of my TBH's are open the full length of the hive... little over 4'.

    I originally used follower boards to keep the space constricted until they had buitl a few bars but once they were established I moved the follower boards all the way back to the end of the hive.

    I haven't had any issues. I typically throw an empty bar in the middle of the nest every couple of weeks to encourage growth.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Moyock, NC, USA
    Posts
    207

    Default Re: TBH, How much space to give them?

    I started my first hive fully open 4 ft. I had very little comb problems.

    If you open your hive every week you will catch your cross combs before they are a problem.

    The second hive I used a divider board at 2.5 ft. This hive is 5ft though.

    I would also add new bars to the middle(of 4ft hive) to ensure a nice straight comb, since it is built between two nice straight combs, it will be straight. I have combs from the edge and they are curvy. Using the same method(checkerboarding) in the honey combs works good too.

    As far as not much happening, it seems as if there isn't anything producing resources for the bees to use, so they slow down. My hives are not doing much at all right now.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Denison, Texas
    Posts
    510

    Default Re: TBH, How much space to give them?

    They'll fill whatever empty bars you give them, regardless if it's two at a time or twenty.
    A couple of bars at each end of the hive won't slow them down. They grow by how much
    resources are coming into the hive and how much brood they can care for and how fast
    they can build combs. Open space doesn't limit their speed of growth until they run out
    of space. As long as you have any empty bars you're good.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Postville, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    380

    Default Re: TBH, How much space to give them?

    "...checkerboarding..."

    Uh, actually you are not checkerboarding -- you are just opening up the honey storage area or opening the brood nest, depending on where you add the bar(s).

    The term "checkerboarding" is a specific method for managing Lang hives that is done in early spring to manage swarming. Checkerboarding cannot be done in a conventional TBH, since there is no overhead honey storage like there is in a Lang hive. So using the term in this context is confusing and misleading.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Moyock, NC, USA
    Posts
    207

    Default Re: TBH, How much space to give them?

    "Checkerboarding" existed long before lang hives. The act of one in, one out is checkerboarding. (whether or not we are even talking about bees) One and only one definition of this slang word seems to be the only confusion here. This forum seems to miss the questions raised by the original post and focus on precise definitions of words used to help. So until there is a new word which means to do it(checkerboard) in a TBH horizontally, I will say checkerboard.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,661

    Default Re: TBH, How much space to give them?

    Who's hive is it? Yep yours... do what YOU want.
    I have a 4' TBH. My bees like to work on 4-5 bars at a time, but finish them to completion. At any given time, I make sure they have 4-5 new bars before the follower board.
    I believe I have 28 bars plus the follower board (wide open) at this time. Yeah it's at capacity.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Spicewood, Texas, USA
    Posts
    232

    Default Re: TBH, How much space to give them?

    But isn't it easier for them to cool, heat or defend a hive if they aren't responsible for big, wide-open, unused space? Looks like I'm in the minority here, but since my hive was only established in April, I started them off in a reduced area and have kept it that way so far. If they need more room, I think their comb-building will be the clue.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Moyock, NC, USA
    Posts
    207

    Default Re: TBH, How much space to give them?

    I have a clarification to my previous statement. Lots of room is not a good thing all the time...
    Everything brooks said is applicable when starting a hive, and later on.
    But--- When you get down the road a bit remember this... When there is a lot of empty comb that the bees are not using, that is when the wax moths will show you their destructive power. Since the bees are not policing the extremities, the pests can get a serious foothold. I just lost a hive for that exact reason. Lesson learned.
    I should have put in a divider board to fit the number of bees in the hive, and taken out most of the unused comb.

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