# Thread: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

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## Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

Most east coast beekeepers have fall aster, & goldenrod that crystallize in the hive. I've only heard of one beekeeper who removes it, then fills the hive with sugar water.
I doubt if its bad for the bees.

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## Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

It is true that the amount of honey to produce one pound of wax is a difficult quantity to determine experimentally. Dr. C.C. Miller was comparing total weights from comb honey-producing hives vs. liquid honey-producing hives in the same bee yards over several years when he arrived at the 17- to 20-pound approximation.

Analyzing the chemical compounds of the average sugars in the honeys and the average fatty acids composing the wax gives numbers in the 4 lbs. to 9 lbs. to one range (depending on the fats and sugars), and there are indeed a lot of variables and a lot of ways to calculate it, each with it's pros and cons. Because I suspect that there is alot more involved that a straight conversion, I have always leaned towards Dr. Miller's crude calculation as probably closer to the truth, as the math is much less complex, and numbers in that ballpark have been repeated many times by other beekeepers. He usually produced 17 to 20 times as much liquid honey per colony as he did honey-in-the-comb per colony when comparing colonies of similar strength in the same locations. I would suppose that the ratio varies greatly as equal colony strengths go up or down, but that is a S.W.A.G. (Scientific Wild-@\$\$ed Guess) , not confirmed by the bees nor experimental data.

The bees probably have it figured better than we do, but I'd also bet that they are dealing with stress more often these days than they are optimistic about building comb. If you were a bee that lived on Wall Street, it's kind of like investing all your honey into wax when there is lots of bad economic news. Any way you slice it, I can't see a 100 lbs per hive average happening very often out of a TBH using crush-and-strain. If it happens anywhere in North America, it happens in the Peace River or other BIG Canadian nectar flow during the 18- to 20-hours of sunlight either side of summer solstice on a good year. Canola combined with clover and alfalfa is perhaps the best bet out there, although there are other very strong nectar flows other places as well. Not that it is impossible, just that it is improbable, but it happens on a regular basis and in a lot of places with Langstroth equipment and an extractor. If you actually do it with TBH and crush-and-strain, you're good, and you have really good bees :-)

The TBH brood box and Langstroth honey boxes that were suggested earlier would sure do the trick on a good year, with many of the benefits if a TBH to boot.
Last edited by kilocharlie; 02-16-2013 at 09:08 PM.

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## Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

I'll be trying the scratch and drain method for harvesting the honey in August, without crushing the comb. Albeit I won' be able to take out all the honey the remaining honey would be mixed with sugar syrup resulting in a mixture that shouldn't be hard for bees to ingest and shouldn't require them to source water. I don't know if I'll be successful or not but once thing is for sure; if I leave the rapeseed/canola honey the bees are guaranteed not to survive, canola honey requires them to source water something they cannot do in -30c weather.

I want to thank you all for the responses as they were all very helpful. I didn't expect to receive so many responses but I'm glad I did.

Thanks again,
And

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## Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

Now I am VERY tempted to try Deknow's suggestion - TBH brood boxes with Langstroth honey supers. Because I am a queen breeder, I will have lots of fresh drawn comb for Jay Smith / Henry Alley Cut Cell and /or Punch Cell queen rearing methods. I do have a feeling that bees will want to stay home better in a TBH or any situation with some natural-drawn comb. My hives that fared best last year had up to 25% foundationless comb.

Any suggestions regarding top bar design? I will be using 10-frame medium Langstroth boxes.

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## Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

I saw a video on Youtube were someone used a heatgun to uncap frames. That may be a good way to do try to extract. It didn't damage the comb and was very quick and clean.

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## Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

Serious question, not sarcasm, but why would you? why not switch to a langstroth????

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## Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

You might like Wyatt Magnum's new book, top bar hive beekeeping wisdom & pleasure combined.
It has a section on queen production, package bee production, commercial pollination etc...

Originally Posted by kilocharlie
Now I am VERY tempted to try Deknow's suggestion - TBH brood boxes with Langstroth honey supers. Because I am a queen breeder, I will have lots of fresh drawn comb for Jay Smith / Henry Alley Cut Cell and /or Punch Cell queen rearing methods. I do have a feeling that bees will want to stay home better in a TBH or any situation with some natural-drawn comb. My hives that fared best last year had up to 25% foundationless comb.

Any suggestions regarding top bar design? I will be using 10-frame medium Langstroth boxes.

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## Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

Thank you, Dan! I'll check into that.

I did find six top bar designs online last night - lots of issues about keeping the beeswax starter strip attached and strong enough, so I'm thinking a dovetail strip cut right into the main piece. I like the arched splint idea, but my guess is that it is a lot of labor for a commercial guy.

Michael Bush just sent me a message - because TBH's have no gaps, they don't work well with supers. He suggested foundationless Langstroth frames - which I will probably try in the brood boxes, and foundation in the honey super frames. That way I still have the advantage of any frame fits in any box (I use all medium 10-frame Lang's).

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## Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

Phil Chandler, author of the Barefoot Beekeeper, recommends removing all possible honey and feeding sugar syrup.

His advice, not mine. But if you feel the canola honey will cause a problem in your environment it could be a good idea. There was a Canadian study where they found bees wintered on sugar syrup came through with lower nosema levels than bees wintered on honey, presumably because they has defacated less.

A note about sugar syrup. Mix it a thick as you can using hot water, and add a cup of vinegar to each 4 gallons. The vinegar is beneficial in several ways.

The other issue though, is getting comb built and syrup stored, at seasons end. It's rare, but I'm in agreement with DeKnow as per post #12 on this. Best to have the existing combs of canola emptied by other bees, and give the combs back to the TBH to refill with syrup.

Long term, you'll need to come up with an easier, simpler plan for having combs available for syrup, but for this season, i think you should do as DeKnow suggests and see how it works out. Having done it once, will probably give you ideas how the method could be improved / simplified.

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## Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

Thanks,

I've also been told here in our bitter cold climate it's best to remove the honey, but could you explain why vinegar is beneficial? And should it be white vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or apple cider vinegar?

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## Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

Vinegar makes the sugar syrup closer to the acidity level that honey is so it's easier on the bees. It also acts as something of a preservative so the syrup is less prone to mould while it's in the feeder. And finally, it can help "invert" the syrup but don't ask me what that means but whatever it is it's supposed to be good LOL.

There is debate about which is the best vinegar to use with some claiming apple cider vinegar is best. Me, I just use whatever is to hand it all seems to work. However in your situation, you are wanting to reduce indigestable solids for the bees that they would have to excrete, so in my opinion, white vinegar would be best.

One other thing, if temperatures get below 50 f the bees will find it too cold to go into the feeder & remove the syrup. So you need to plan this so you'll have syrup stored before temperatures get too low. They'll take syrup from an overhead feeder at lower temperatures, as the warmth rising from the cluster warms it. But in a TBH an overhead feeder may not be possible.
Last edited by Oldtimer; 03-02-2013 at 01:03 AM.

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## Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

Originally Posted by gmcharlie
Serious question, not sarcasm, but why would you? why not switch to a langstroth????
that was my thought in the beginning. i understand the appeal and romanticism of the TBH but it just may not work their. especially if you are have serious issues with dysentery and canola crystallization. the fact is that LANGS are the way to go. im blessed that we run both here. langs and tbh's. but if one design didnt work i would head to necessity .

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## Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

Originally Posted by shannonswyatt
I saw a video on Youtube were someone used a heatgun to uncap frames. That may be a good way to do try to extract. It didn't damage the comb and was very quick and clean.
i saw that too. made me fel like an idiot after uncapping all last year (first year) with a standard heat gun hahahaha. im gonna try it this year....looks like a blessing ! except no cappings for the kids and neighbor kids to get caught getting in to

14. ## Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

I know people who use apple cider vinegar as a Nosema preventative. I have tried it (and distilled vinegar) in syrup and it seemed to set off far more robbing than plain syrup or syrup with ascorbic acid in it. It has too much smell, in my opinion, to be a good feed that won't set off robbing.

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## Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

Yes, I put some vinegar/sugar syrup out in an open feeder in the fall. It was insane. Apparently they love them some vinegar.

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## Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

Well it should go without saying to NOT have the hive set up in a way that allows robbing. I never have robbing when feeding syrup, with vinegar, I'm happy to discuss hive layout if anyone wants that.

17. ## Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

>It was insane.

That was my experience. It was far more than robbing. It was a frenzy. They could even smell me coming with a bucket (even though the lid was on) when I was going out to fill the feeders.

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## Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

Well all due respect but it only goes like that if you allow robbing to start in the first place.

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## Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

Okay, Oldtimer, I'll bite....What is your favorite setup to discourage robbing?

I'm at a (very sad) point of having to re-build my apiary, so any advantages I can build in wouldn't hurt. I'll probably try the vinegar trick with great caution, and apple cider vinegar to stimulate feeding when it is appropriate, though that may involve use of the robber cage, or perhaps hive nets.

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## Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

OK well what I do is a bit different than a TBH keeper would have to do. But there's a few common elements. No syrup should be spilled or left unattended, once bees find it & get some, if it's got vinegar in it they'll then learn to associate that smell with feed, and will be flying around the apiary trying their luck with any hive that has that smell, ie, has been fed.

As to the hive set up there must be an entrance right next to the main bee cluster where there are plenty of bees right there, able to defend the entrance. The entrance should not be to one side, or away from the main cluster, and the entrance should be small enough for the bees to easily guard. There should be a good body of bees between the entrance and the feeder. So any robber trying it's luck would have to fight it's way through the whole hive. So in a lang for example, a top entrance while feeding would be a complete no no. There should be a small bottom entrance, the bee cluster right next to the entrance, the feeder on the top of the hive, and no holes in the hive that a bee could fit through.

Even with all that, if robbing starts, robbers en mass, can overwhelm even a well set up hive. So it's very important during the feeding operation, to open the hive, get feed in, close the hive, all as quick as possible. Spill nothing, don't give robbers a chance to even get a taste. Then you don't get mass attacks, and the hives are able to defend themselves against the fewer bees that have a try. Don't feed weak hives that will not be able to defend themselves. How to feed them? Make them strong from another hive, then feed at a later date.

When hives are fed syrup, the whole hive can get pretty excited, and the extra activity at the entrance can give the game away to other bees that may then investigate & attempt to rob. If this may be likely, feed in the evening. However, as a commercial beekeeper, we had to work all day obviously. So we had to be fairly obsessive about not allowing anything to get started in the first place.

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