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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Washington, NC
    Posts
    7

    Default Center entrance Top-bar and colony expansion

    I am a new beekeeper (3 weeks into it) and have two top-bar hives that I build using Phil Chandler's design. The entrance is three holes in the center of the hive. Everything is going great. I have straight comb and have only had to adjust a couple of small combs which were off center.

    My question is this:
    Once the colony starts expanding, do I slowly "push" the bars to one end of the hive and expand in the opposite direction, like if I had a front entrance? Or, do I expand in both direction at the same time? Presumably, the latter option would lead to honey comb on both ends of the brood nest.

    Thanks in advance for your responses.
    Last edited by tbgtx; 04-06-2013 at 07:52 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Newfoundland, Canada
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: Center entrance Top-bar and colony expansion

    I have the same hive and I also wondered the same thing... What did you figure out after?

    Also, do you have different size top bars, 1 for brood, 1 for honey. Do you use spacers?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Center entrance Top-bar and colony expansion

    Mine had the three bottom center holes but I changed it to the top end of the side because my bees seemed to want the broodnest at the entrance. That said, if you want to keep the three center holes I have read you have to do an end of season bar shift so that they can move one direction towards the honey. Kristy Hemenway (sp) addresses how to manage this way in her book. (Les Crowder covers management for the end entrances in his book. - loved this book!) Despite having a GoldStar hive, I didn't love Kristy's book (nothing wrong with it, just didn't like the "voice" she wrote in) but you might want to check it out for tips on managing that way. (I really like Wyatt Mangum's book too, but it is a much deeper read.) Hope this helps.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Washington, NC
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Center entrance Top-bar and colony expansion

    Collen,

    Thanks for the reply. I ended up migrating the colonies to top entrances shortly after my original post. It took the bees about three weeks to quit flying to the original entrance holes and then walking a diagonal line to the new top entrance. I like the entrance much better, and I think the bees do too. I blocked half opposing side of the top entrance with a rag, which seems to work well.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Washington, NC
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Center entrance Top-bar and colony expansion

    Jen,

    I decided the hives should have top entrances, or at least entrances on one side, vice the middle. I plugged the three center holes well after sunset and then opened the new top entrance around sunrise. My lid has lots of wiggle room on the sides, as well as overhang (approx. 2 inches), and the ends have about 1/2" of wiggle space. I removed the lid, and removed the first top-bar. I left about a 1/2" gap and plugged the north side of the entrance with a small towel. I did this so the bees will only have an entrance on one side of the hive, rather than on both.

    The bees had much difficulty finding the new entrance. I had several hundred hanging on the front of the hive where the old entrances were. I helped them by smearing a line of lemongrass oil from the old entrance to the new one. I also rubbed a small amount of beeswax on the same line. This helped them find the path to the new entrance pretty well. It still took them several weeks to fly directly to the new entrance rather than flying to the old entrance and walking along the "scented" line to the new entrance.

    I like the new entrance much better. It is easier to manage and the bees seem to work it better. I guess I will see how things really work out over the next few months. If you have more questions, please send me a message.

    Regards,
    Tom

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Washington, NC
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Center entrance Top-bar and colony expansion

    Of forgot to tell you that I only have one size of top-bar, which is 1 1/2". The bees have not seemed to object thus far. However, you certainly have to manage the comb pretty closely, especially during the first few bars. After than, they build things pretty straight. I have also not had any issues with them attaching the combs to the side/walls.
    ~ tom

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Center entrance Top-bar and colony expansion

    Glad to hear it is going well!

    Yeah, my bees last year let me know what they wanted. When I tried to shift the brood bars back by two bars from the entrance (with the center entrance) they let the brood hatch out and then wouldn't put anything in those two bars. When I added the entrance holes near the top and end of the side and shifted all the bars down there the bees started using those two bars again.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Newfoundland, Canada
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: Center entrance Top-bar and colony expansion

    Quote Originally Posted by tbgtx View Post
    Of forgot to tell you that I only have one size of top-bar, which is 1 1/2". The bees have not seemed to object thus far. However, you certainly have to manage the comb pretty closely, especially during the first few bars. After than, they build things pretty straight. I have also not had any issues with them attaching the combs to the side/walls.
    ~ tom
    Hi Tom

    You said you use all 1 1/2 bars and you have to manage them closely. What happens do they start to attach to the neighbouring bar? If so what do you do then?

    I really don't know what size of bars to use this time around... Some folks use 2 different sizes but I read this can get confusing or messed up down the road. Some people use all 1 1/4 bars with 1/4" spacers (which my husband said is too difficult for him to make) Some folks use all 1 3/8 bars... Gees what is a person to do lol.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Washington, NC
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Center entrance Top-bar and colony expansion

    I chose to use 1 1/2" bars instead of the recommended "critical" dimensions of 1 1/4" and 1 3/8" because I did not have a way to but them down to size. I also didn't think that 1/8" would make much of a difference. I used 1" x 2" boards and cut them to length. I have not had any problems, so far. The bees have built about 28 bars of comb.

    The comb management is very important, especially from the beginning. The bees will build comb across the bar, centered for the most part. However, near the ends, they may curve the comb. It this is left alone, they next comb will reflect this curve. Eventually, you will end up with a mess of cross comb.

    To adjust the comb, you just cut, push, and mash the comb into place. The bees will repair the damage. Once you get a couple of bars with straight comb, you can place a new blank bar between them and the bees will build the comb parallel to the other comb.

    It is easy and you will see what I am talking about as your colony progresses. I started my colonies in March and since then I have only had to adjust three or four combs in each hive. It seems that the last bar is the one you typically have to adjust. I haven't not been in my hives in about three weeks, so I have have to make some more adjustments. But, the last time I checked them all was well.

    ~ tom

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,313

    Default Re: Center entrance Top-bar and colony expansion

    Feed empty bars into the brood nest between your straightest combs.

    I tried all 1 1/2" bars once. I would not recommend them except in the honey area.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Marquette, Michigan
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: Center entrance Top-bar and colony expansion

    All my bars are 1 3/8 for the brood bars then I start using 1/4 in spacers on all the bars they store honey in so I guess those are 1 5/8 total. No prob with cross comb. Monty in Marquette.

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