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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    Missoula, Montana
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    79

    Default Newbie from Montana

    hey all! i intro'd myself in the intro thread.

    i'm looking to meet Horizontal Top Bar Hive Bkpers in montana and get tips and advice...but i'll do that online as well. there is a vast amount of info online and in published books and youtube. so much so that lately i think i'm going into a bit of a tailspin in regard to keeping up with it.....

    anyways,

    i've ordered a 3lb package of Carniolans from Western Bee in Polson, MT (about 1.5 hours from me in Missoula).

    I bought the top bar hive from this forum's site....wonderful looking hive and not at all what i first encountered when i helped my father in law examine/inspect his girls in his langsroth in up state new york...(he's since left and in costa rica...so i can't really ask him for bee advice)...

    that said, i have concerns with introducing package bees to the Top Bar and am wondering if any of you kind folk could share advice, tips and do's and don'ts.

    I have read two bee keeping books...countless websites...watched videos...and yet, i'm still nervous.

    that's why i'm here. i want to learn and be ready for May.....

    i read that i should rub beeswax on my top bars...should i also make a mixture for my bees upon their arrival? should i do anything else to the hive? should i scare my neighbors and bee keep naked? :P

    ha.

    would a 5 fram nuc be better and drop the bees on the top bar?

    should i hold and try to attract a swarm? i'm not too certain there are bees swarming around my neighborhood..and frankly i'm not quite ready to go grabbing a swarm....mostly, i want the bees to live...heck...i don't even care if i get much honey...i just want them to be well and happy and stick around. i do plan to build a fence inside my already fenced yard. i have chickens and 3 dogs (2 labs and a golden retriever) i do worry the dogs will upset them? the fence should help? right? will mowing the lawn upset them?

    thanks in advance!

    Rod in Missoula
    Last edited by thebalvenie; 02-26-2013 at 08:33 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    4,937

    Default Re: Newbie from Montana

    Welcome to Beesource!

    You may find Michael Bush's site useful, particularly this top bar page:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm

    If you want to start the bees off in a smaller area, just fabricate a divider/follower board to fit your current TBH.

    You may be able trap a swarm by just setting up an empty box for them to move into. Bait it with a few drops of lemongrass oil. I suggest making the box such that the bars from your TBH can be used in the trap. Note that a swarm trap is a lot different than going out to actively seek a swarm and move it into a hive.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,496

    Default Re: Newbie from Montana

    Hello Rod, I am a beekeeper in Great Falls. THere is quite an active group in Missoula and some keep TBH I believe. GO to bigskybeepers.hoop.la and meet the locals. I am three hours away. I could produce you a top bar nuc if you want, if you are willing to come and get it. PM me. BTW, you can't just drop a regular langstroth five frame nuc on the top bars unless you have a tanzanian style that fits lang frames.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Kalispell, MT, USA
    Posts
    15

    Thumbs Up Re: Newbie from Montana

    Hi, Rod! Welcome to the world of top bar hives. I assume you are referring to a Kenyan style horizontal TBH and not a Warre', or Langstroth with only top bars in it. I'm not an oldbee, this being my third year, but I love my KTBH and am making another.

    You've got the package ordered, I'd vote to use it. Swarms are iffy to find and occur in May-June.

    To install your package, depending on which end you want your brood nest to be and where the entrance is, you remove a few bars and pour the girls in that area, then replace the bars. Hang the queen cage where the bees are, though some recommend releasing her right away. You'll probably need to leave the box they came in on it's side by an entrance (via a space in the bars or by their permanent entrance with a ramp leading from box to it). I'd leave it on top until the stragglers decide to join the girls inside the hive. Do this toward evening and they'll move in sooner and have the night to get oriented to their new digs. It's pretty easy, once you've done it. They pour like sand out of a bucket.

    Unless there's a flow on and it's warm enough for them to forage, give them some local raw honey (but ONLY if you know for certain it came from disease-free hives--NOT store-bought honey!) or sugar syrup to survive on until they can forage. This is the only time I recommend feeding, especially sugar.

    What type of top bar comb guides are you using? They should have either a wooden wedge or craft sticks or foundation strips down the center of each bar. It can help to melt wax onto the wooden guides, though I don't know that it's essential. It isn't after they get some comb built, anyway.

    If you have some straight drawn comb to use, that gives them a good head start and it helps ensure the comb they build is straight and midline on the top bars. That is the hardest issue you have when starting with a KTBH, getting straight comb in the middle of each top bar. If you have no comb, you have to watch them closely and gently push the new comb into position or even cut it off and tie it to the bar where it's supposed to be. The new white comb is very pliable and fragile. I read that a follower cut half off can be used to help guide comb building. It seemed to work for me last year. If you have the comb resources, put each undrawn top bar between drawn comb.

    Not sure what you mean about dropping the nuc on the top bar. You could put them in a nuc, if it's a KTBH nuc, then when it gets 3-4 comb drawn and filled, transfer the nuc top bars to the KTBH . Transferring them from another type of hive into the KTBH is really difficult due to the different sizes/shapes of frames/top bars, etc. I don't recommend it, based on personal experience.

    There are several top bar books out now, but I'm partial to Les Crowder's "Top Bar Beekeeping, Organic Practices for Honeybee Health". And Michael Bush's website @ bushfarms.com is just wonderful for good, practical advice and info.

    Enjoy the experience! Find Storch's "At the Hive Entrance" online (it's free) and it'll give good hints on what to observe for when you're just watching the girls, which I predict you'll be doing a lot of. I do! And keep the questions coming.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Missoula, Montana
    Posts
    79

    Default Re: Newbie from Montana

    @Vance,
    Thanks for the kind offer! My bro lives in great falls with his family. so, i think i should specify my top bar hive: I purchased it here is this what is referred to as a Kenyan TBH? as i stated above...there is just so much **** info to keep straight and so many varying and differing opinions...it's enough to just make you go : HUH?

    it seems to be a very good one...cedar, lightweight.... & vance, you're correct missoula and the surrounding area is great for bee keeping. i belong to the big sky beekeeper blog...some very informative and informed folk on there. sites like this tend to be more active and when it comes to missoula i just need to get out and start meeting the beekeepers.

    @Kathy, thanks a ton! you've done a great job of calming my nerves already.

    if you see the link above you'll know which top bar hive i'm using. a very nice one. my wife and mother surprised me with it for xmas. i'd already had plans to build one from the PJ Chandler book. but this one looks just fine

    the top bars look like this:
    040__23941.1361479576.386.513.jpg
    so i assume i'd rub beeswax all over those to get the bees interested?

    thanks to you...i've located Storch's at the hive entrance, the bush site (very cool indeed) and will purchase the crowder book on my kindle.

    btw, i grew up and went to high school in whitefish. my folks still live up there and visit often as well. perhaps we could meet up someday and i could check out your bees?

    @RaderSidetrack, thanks so much for responding so quickly.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Missoula, Montana
    Posts
    79

    Default Re: Newbie from Montana

    Also, @ Kathy

    anyone have experience with dogs and bees? obviously, i don't want the dogs running amok and disturbing them...but if the dogs are around in general does that upset the bees?

    i have lots to learn. i'm definitely going to buy that crowder book

    should i get a boardman feeder?
    entrance_feeder__68859.1361501635.386.513.jpg

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Kalispell, MT, USA
    Posts
    15

    Thumbs Up Re: Newbie from Montana

    I have one white-coat dog who keeps a good distance whenever I get out the veil. She initially tried to bite the girls when they got around her head, so she quickly learned to keep her distance. Other long-haired dark coated dogs who often visit have not had any trouble. They're both smart. I don't know if less quick-witted dogs would get into trouble. My cat marches nonchalantly on top of the hive with nary a problem.

    My daughter's dog ate a bunch of dead bees from the front of a hive (not poisoned) and nearly died from anaphylactic shock. Allergic?

    I've read the boardman feeders can be used to feed syrup inside the hive with only the feeder part sticking under a shortened follower. This allows access to the container for refilling it without any disturbance to the hive. It would maybe be a way to feed sugar, too, which they can consume when it's too cold for them to consume syrup. Put it toward the rear of the hive. If used as an entrance feeder or near the entrance it promotes robbing.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Missoula, Montana
    Posts
    79

    Default Re: Newbie from Montana

    Thanks a ton Kathy for the helpful responses

    means a lot.

    mainly, i want to make sure the bees, if they leave, they leave on their own accord and not due to my own stupidity. i can handle and accept that bees may not want to be in the hive i provide...but i don't want them to suffer on my account. so learn learn learn it is.

    I read the term "flow"

    in this context, what does it mean: "Unless there's a flow on and it's warm enough for them to forage, give them some local raw honey (but ONLY if you know for certain it came from disease-free hives--NOT store-bought honey!) or sugar syrup to survive on until they can forage. This is the only time I recommend feeding, especially sugar."

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Kalispell, MT, USA
    Posts
    15

    Thumbs Up Re: Newbie from Montana

    If its warm enough for them to gather nectar and pollen (>65 degrees for some bees), and if there are blooming trees, shrubs, plants available, and you see them returning to the hive with full pollen baskets for several hours a day, then they can probably be left to their own devices. I don't know any other way to tell if there's nectar being gathered, but flowers put out nectar to entice the insects to pollinate them, so there should be nectar if there's pollen.

    Emergency feeding should always be with your own honey if at all possible. It's far and away the most nutritious for bees. Use some other Beek's honey if you know for certain they don't have foul brood in their hives. American foul brood is devastating and the spores travel in honey. Feed plain cane sugar any time, but especially when syrup will get below 50 degrees and can't be consumed by the bees. Stop feeding when they start bringing in their own and have some honey in the comb. Check out Michael Bush's site on feeding. I hope I'm saying what I learned from him.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Missoula, Montana
    Posts
    79

    Default Re: Newbie from Montana

    ahhh...
    gotcha.

    that makes sense. i'm on bush's site right now going through it.

    am i alone in thinking this is a bit over whelming? or should i just step back, take a breath and go with it

    thanks so much kathy. much appreciated.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,419

    Default Re: Newbie from Montana

    >I bought the top bar hive from this forum's site....wonderful looking hive and not at all what i first encountered when i helped my father in law examine/inspect his girls in his langsroth in up state new york...(he's since left and in costa rica...so i can't really ask him for bee advice)...

    It may have been advertised here, but this forum does not sell any hives, that I'm aware of...


    >that said, i have concerns with introducing package bees to the Top Bar and am wondering if any of you kind folk could share advice, tips and do's and don'ts.

    Some typical mistakes:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm#superior

    >i read that i should rub beeswax on my top bars...

    I would not. The bees will not accept it any more or less and your wax will not be attached as well as theirs...
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundat...foundationless

    >should i also make a mixture for my bees upon their arrival? should i do anything else to the hive?

    A few drops of lemongrass essential oil is nice assurance they will not abscond. Do not put more than that in. Too much will drive them off.

    > should i scare my neighbors and bee keep naked? :P

    It may go a long ways towards showing them how nice your bees are... right up until they sting you badly... then you running and screaming probably will have the opposite effect...

    >would a 5 fram nuc be better and drop the bees on the top bar?

    If you buy a nuc, then use Langstroth hives. If you want to use a top bar hive, buy a package. There is no point in buying a nuc that is on combs different than you want the bees on.

    >should i hold and try to attract a swarm? i'm not too certain there are bees swarming around my neighborhood..and frankly i'm not quite ready to go grabbing a swarm....

    If you want fish for supper, it's best to buy some fish. If you want to "fish" for swarms, it's a fun hobby...

    >mostly, i want the bees to live...heck...i don't even care if i get much honey...i just want them to be well and happy and stick around. i do plan to build a fence inside my already fenced yard. i have chickens and 3 dogs (2 labs and a golden retriever) i do worry the dogs will upset them?

    Dogs are like people as far as danger. Assuming they are free to run away, most dogs will get stung and then leave them alone. Occasionally a dog is allergic, like people, and has an adverse reaction, but I have never worried about it and never had a dog that had an issue.

    > the fence should help? right? will mowing the lawn upset them?

    Sometimes mowing the lawn upsets them a lot. Sometimes not. It depends on the bees and the particular vibration of the mower.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Missoula, Montana
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    79

    Default Re: Newbie from Montana

    Thank you sir!

    your site is very helpful.

    and yes, i was mistaking this forum for Matt's site @beethinking

    i bought my hive from beethinking, not beesource

    you all are helping calm my nerves quite a bit and as i read and read i get a bit more confident. i think right now i have to pick a couple beekeepers and go with their ideas and tips.

    that said, pj chandler, bush and the crowder look like good places to stick with and start with.

    can't thank you enough.

    hopefully, given some time and luck and skill i'll be on the site one day to help people with their questions.

    one question i have that i just thought about is this:

    my chickens have their water...and i know the bees will have their water source too....not sure how to get around the bees going to the chicken water and getting eaten...i don't want that.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Missoula, Montana
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    79

    Default Re: Newbie from Montana

    also,

    i found a nice video on installing package bees...

    he said he hung the queen between the 5 & 6 bars and just placed the box of bees in the hive and let them naturally leave.

    1. bush says don't hang the queen.....

    2. wouldn't it be better to pour the bees in so as not to have to come yet again and open it all up and grab the box they left?

    Zone4A
    “We can love completely what we cannot completely understand.” -Maclean

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
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    3,496

    Default Re: Newbie from Montana

    Leaving the package in the hive is not a good idea and will usually result in a mass of twisted comb that will really complicate your life. Try to find a drawn comb from another beekeeper and attach it to one of your topbars. The bees will then have a guide to start building on your topbars and a place to clean up for the queen to start laying in. It will just make your life easier.

  15. #15
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    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    43,419

    Default Re: Newbie from Montana

    >1. bush says don't hang the queen.....

    It just leads to a bad comb and one bad comb leads to another bad comb...

    >2. wouldn't it be better to pour the bees in so as not to have to come yet again and open it all up and grab the box they left?

    It's not that hard to go back and remove the box, but I always just shake mine inl
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    Missoula, Montana
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    Default Re: Newbie from Montana

    @vance...

    that's kind of what i was thinking...just baffles me how successful this fella is with his methods when it seems to run contradictory what i've been reading.
    Zone4A
    “We can love completely what we cannot completely understand.” -Maclean

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    Missoula, Montana
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    Default Re: Newbie from Montana

    okay!

    thanks michael and vance!

    Zone4A
    “We can love completely what we cannot completely understand.” -Maclean

  18. #18
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    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
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    Default Re: Newbie from Montana

    Our now gone, then 18 yr old Australian Shephard got stung any time she got within 50 yards of the hives. The seemed to be very defensive with her, even when we were in the hives and OK. She learned quickly to give a wide berth to the bee yard and the electric bear fence surrounding the equipment yard.

    Welcome to beekeeping and the Forum - I have a friend who is a border patrol agent up in that neck of the woods (trying to keep all those Canadian's like Ian from sneaking accross the border) - says the fishing is great!

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    Missoula, Montana
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    Default Re: Newbie from Montana

    Quote Originally Posted by Joel View Post
    Our now gone, then 18 yr old Australian Shephard got stung any time she got within 50 yards of the hives. The seemed to be very defensive with her, even when we were in the hives and OK. She learned quickly to give a wide berth to the bee yard and the electric bear fence surrounding the equipment yard.

    Welcome to beekeeping and the Forum - I have a friend who is a border patrol agent up in that neck of the woods (trying to keep all those Canadian's like Ian from sneaking accross the border) - says the fishing is great!
    ha! thanks joel for the response. my two labs and golden retriever are quite a lot of fun and love to run the yard. thankfully it's big enough. i imagine my pesky dogs will get the hint and leave the bees alone.

    thanks for the welcome! i grew up in a town called Whitefish, MT and it's fairly close to the border. great fishing all over in montana and especially in the spotted bear and north and south forks of the flathead river.

    your buddy is correct
    Zone4A
    “We can love completely what we cannot completely understand.” -Maclean

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