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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    McCormick SC, USA
    Posts
    31

    Default Top bar hive questions for newbie

    Hey to all!! I have just completed my first top bar hive. I have the sliding dividers in it to minimize the chambers. I have learned a lot from reading the forums but cannot find the answers to so questions I have, maybe someone can answer them for me.
    First, I have read that the entrance should be anywhere from the end, side, bottom, 2 entrances, 3, just one, can someone please tell me what works best for them. I am going to have a covered landing.
    The brood chamber, does the top bars need to be waxed just as the ones I want to collect honey from and where should they be placed in reference to the entrance?
    The pollen stores, do the top bars in this chamber need to be waxed also and where do I place them in reference to the others, (brood, honey)? Do I divide in off with my dividers?
    Once I have a colony established, do I mess with the brood chamber, (like maintenance)?
    What about the pollen stores? and how do I tell the difference in each?
    Thanks to you all for the informative site.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Casey, Il, USA
    Posts
    959

    Default Re: Top bar hive questions for newbie

    i won't try to answer your questions because this is my first yr keeping bees and I just got my first hive yesterday, but I will say that your questions are all over the place and many are basic questions that would be covered in just about any book on bees, so I can only assume that you haven't read any. I would suggest doing alot of reading, youtube has good videos as well to help you see what you are looking at. When you think you have got all of your bases covered, read some more, I have been studying up for almost 2 yrs now and when I went to pick up my hive yesterday and we went through it so I could see what I was getting, I could not believe how overwhelmed and uneducated I felt LOL So hang in there do some reading, and try to focus your questions on one single subject, and most certainly, welcome to the forrum

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    McCormick SC, USA
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    31

    Default Re: Top bar hive questions for newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by Harley Craig View Post
    i won't try to answer your questions because this is my first yr keeping bees and I just got my first hive yesterday, but I will say that your questions are all over the place and many are basic questions that would be covered in just about any book on bees, so I can only assume that you haven't read any. I would suggest doing alot of reading, youtube has good videos as well to help you see what you are looking at. When you think you have got all of your bases covered, read some more, I have been studying up for almost 2 yrs now and when I went to pick up my hive yesterday and we went through it so I could see what I was getting, I could not believe how overwhelmed and uneducated I felt LOL So hang in there do some reading, and try to focus your questions on one single subject, and most certainly, welcome to the forrum

    You are right about the books, lol. I have been reading this forum and to many websites to name for years. I was going to build a top bar hive 3 years ago and never got around to it. This spring, I finally cut the planks and assembled it by the instructions on another site. I finished this weekend. I have ordered pure beeswax and oil of Anise to try and attrck a swarm. I live in the National Forest and have 2 hives in seperate tree hollows on my property. I dont want to disturb them by hand. The only thing i have left to do on my hive is, put in a bottom, (wood or screen), and drill the entrance holes and attach the landing/porch.
    I will keep studying.
    Thank You

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Oceanside, New York
    Posts
    69

    Default Re: Top bar hive questions for newbie

    You do not need to wax any of the top bars. Leave that job to the bees, they are much better at it. No worries about which bars where, the only issue is the width of the bars. Once they have established themselves and begin to produce honey, this should be on a wider bar than the brood bars.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    McCormick SC, USA
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: Top bar hive questions for newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by llgoddj View Post
    You do not need to wax any of the top bars. Leave that job to the bees, they are much better at it. No worries about which bars where, the only issue is the width of the bars. Once they have established themselves and begin to produce honey, this should be on a wider bar than the brood bars.
    Thank you for the answer. All my bars are the same width, 1 3/4. I cut them all from store bought, 1"X2"X8'. Im sure you know, store bought lumber isnt dimentional. The actual is (I think),
    3/4X1-3/4 and I cut mine 17" long.
    Everything I have read says to put a bead of beeswax in a 1/8" kerf or on a protrution of some shape, for the bees to have something to attach the comb to. I can do with out this?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Oceanside, New York
    Posts
    69

    Default Re: Top bar hive questions for newbie

    i didn't say that. You should have something for the bees to attach the comb to, but all this needs to be is a piece of wood. i have found the best to be paint stirring sticks. Rout out a 1/4 bead along the top bar, and insert the stirrer for the length of the bar, excluding the last 2 inches on each side. This is perfect for them to attach their comb to, and will "instruct" the bees to form a naturally straight comb.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    McCormick SC, USA
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: Top bar hive questions for newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by llgoddj View Post
    i didn't say that. You should have something for the bees to attach the comb to, but all this needs to be is a piece of wood. i have found the best to be paint stirring sticks. Rout out a 1/4 bead along the top bar, and insert the stirrer for the length of the bar, excluding the last 2 inches on each side. This is perfect for them to attach their comb to, and will "instruct" the bees to form a naturally straight comb.
    COOL, thats a great idea, thank you!!
    Since I have already ordered pure beeswax bars, In your opinion, will it help or deter the bees in any way, if I did apply some to the edge of the stirrers?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Casey, Il, USA
    Posts
    959

    Default Re: Top bar hive questions for newbie

    many people wax their bars with no problems, many people don't with no problems, so either way I think you will be ok.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Hopkins, South Carolina
    Posts
    73

    Default Re: Top bar hive questions for newbie

    Check out youtube ,Out of a bluesky. I have found him very informative. We just started with top bar hives this year, have the basic square framed hives for a couple years. But the weight of the boxes are getting to be too much for my old body. Yes wax all bars, and don't worry about the brood, pollen honey separation. The bees will make their own patterns. Just go to Utube and enter KTBH or Top bar hives and you will get a list of videos that will be quite helpful. Good luck and happy bee keeping. Remember, Bee keeping is Not Science, it's Nature.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,438

    Default Re: Top bar hive questions for newbie

    Don't wax the bars, just wax the bottom or sides of the hive. They attach better to bars that are not waxed. If you can get old brood comb for wax, it has a much stronger smell than wax processed from cappings. The pure beeswax is probably from cappings, but it is better than nothing.

    Also, if your bars are 1 3/4's they are going to be too wide. You may get them to build to a kerf, but they will have ribbon comb all over the place. You should be using 1 1/4 or 1 3/8 bars.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Top bar hive questions for newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by frstmer View Post
    You are right, the simplicity is excatly why I built one. I have read about the hole or holes, on the end but at the bottom so the heat doesnt escape. Im in the deep south so we dont get much winter but, we do get a heck of a summer so, heat loss shouldnt be a problem.
    I have read the bars should be this or that but, the majority of the sites I have read have all the bars the same size.
    Thank yall for all the help. I believe this is going to be more of a, "learn as you go", endeavor because nothing I have read says the same thing.
    My first hive I purchased and it came with three holes in the side, middle near the bottom. That didn't work so well, so I moved the entrance to the top of the side near the end. I put in two holes spaced so that they were between the bars. The bees seemed to have liked that arrangement and it gives the hive better ventilation. My Carniolan bees closed their entrance half up with propolis for winter.

    I find the screen bottom just lets the pests (small hive beetle and wax worms) in, so I won't be putting them on again.

    Ditto on not waxing the bars and on the 1 3/8" bar size if you are going with just one size. (My purchased hive has 1 3/8" bars, the ones I made are half 1 1/4" and half 1 1/2" based on Mike Bush's recommendations - you should check out his site or his book "The Practical Beekeeper".)

    For a TBH book recommendation, "Top-Bar Beekeeping" by Les Crowder is my favorite. I am a book person so have several on the subject but his is a very readable length with informative pictures and sketches for seasonal management.

    All the bars that they have brood or stores (pollen or honey) should be on the same side of the divider (follower board) so that the bees can take care of it. Only empty bars and a syrup feeder if you are feeding on the other. (Les's book will really help you with this type of stuff.)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,438

    Default Re: Top bar hive questions for newbie

    +1 on Les's book. And anything Michael Bush says.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    McCormick SC, USA
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: Top bar hive questions for newbie

    well I got my first one up and baited it with a drop of vanilla and a drop of Anise. Im still waiting on the lemongrass oil. Our lemongrass patch is planted along with every other plant I could find that bee's like. Our 4 pear and 6 apple tree's have leaves on them and the wild plum, (too many to count), are in full plumage. I am putting the second hive out this weekend. It has a solid bottom and an entrance like Lee describes in his book. The bars are also to his specs and have a triangle glued/nailed to them instead or the way I did the other one, (paint stirrers).
    Now I wait

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Top bar hive questions for newbie

    I have never heard of using vanilla and anise to bait a hive. Just lemongrass oil, "queen juice", some kind of queen lure that is sold, and one place actually mentioned lemon pledge but I have no idea if that works. I found food grade lemongrass oil at Whole Foods Market.

    Are you trying to entice in a swarm? I made two top bar swarm boxes and put them out to try to catch one this year myself. One is at my house and the other is at the house of a friend who has had two swarms land in his yard in the past few years. He doesn't keep bees but his grandad did so he knows a little about it and was willing to help me try to lure them in. I used a q-tip dipped in queen juice on one end and a few drops of lemongrass oil on the other end plus a bar that had an old brood comb on it. Lots of great on the swarm part of the forum. I hope we both get lucky and catch one!

    It sounds like you have a nice variety of fruit trees planted. Two of my four apple trees should bloom within a week, and my crab apple tree has just started blooming.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    McCormick SC, USA
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: Top bar hive questions for newbie

    I used a q-tip also with the Anise and Vanilla. I used the Vanilla because I had read somewhere on the forum that some one's grandad, (Ibelieve), Used Vanilla. I didnt think it would hurt until I got the lemongrass oil in. Our local grocery store only had imitation oils, so I didnt even bother. I live so far out that the grocery store is about 20 miles away and the nearest convienence store is an old country store about 15 miles away and closes at noon on Saturdays and is only open during hunting season. There isnt anybody I know that has bees near me. I have had people ask me about the hives when they come to buy quail and eggs though. The first thing I get is, "why would you want bees?". The next is, "let us know when you have honey".

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Missoula, Montana
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: Top bar hive questions for newbie

    +1 on the les crowder book.

    there's now an accompanying DVD out there too....i've not yet seen it but i imagine i will purchase it to watch with my family.

    i get my bees on May 3rd.

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

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    McCormick SC, USA
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: Top bar hive questions for newbie

    I found topbars 1 1/4 but lowes doesnt stock the triangle corner or half round molding for the bees to attach comb. They do have strip molding, 1 1/4" wide X 1/4" thick. Will this work like paint stirrers or should i have someone rip the triangles for me?

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Belews Creek, NC, USA
    Posts
    323

    Default Re: Top bar hive questions for newbie

    I'm on my second year with Langstroth hives. My 18 year old son has been helping me with them and has decided to get a Top Bar. There is a new bee supply company near me who just built his first TBH. Very basic. I have asked him to build my son one. We are to get together with him tomorrow and discuss any changes we might want. This thread gives me the opportunity to ask a few questions.
    1) Is an observation window a good thing to have or more trouble than they are worth?
    2) The guy who built his first one had 3 holes down the long side of the hive. Looks like the consensus here is they should be on the end. Why can't the entire bottom of the end board be open like a Langstroth? Could even add a
    3" landing board and a reducer as well?
    3) Looks like the bar width is up for grabs. I understand they will draw out to 1 3/8", so 1 1/2" bar width?
    4) Any other recommendations?

    Thanx for any input.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,438

    Default Re: Top bar hive questions for newbie

    frstmer, 1/4 inch guides will work, but you would need to attach them somehow. If you can get a kerf cut you could go that route.


    Belewsboy,
    Put in an observation window, particularly on the first hive. It will let you get an idea of what is going on without disturbing the bees. Lots of fun to watch.

    I use 4 holes near the front on the side of the hive. I like it and it works for me. If you feel you want move of an opening you could go the Michael Bush/Sam Comfort method of leaving a space in the top by moving a bar back. No reason to use a landing board (ever see a landing board on an oak?)

    1 1/4 is more like it, but some go with 1 3/8's (quibbling over 1/8 of an inch). Split the difference and go with 1 5/16's. 1 1/2 would be for honey stores and even then you may need spacers.

    Read everything you can and don't try to turn you TBH into a Lang!

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,438

    Default Re: Top bar hive questions for newbie

    This is why I like an observation hive, and pointy comb guides.
    IMAG0341[1].jpg
    Not a great picture, but you could see the comb through the window and know that they are building straight comb.

    Those are actually 1 inch bars with a 3/8 inch spacer.
    Last edited by shannonswyatt; 04-20-2013 at 09:54 AM. Reason: added content

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