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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Lexington, SC
    Posts
    28

    Default Are spacers neccesary?

    I recently found plans for a barrel top bar hive online. My husband built it for me. The instructions didn't say whether or not to put spaces between each bar. They are right next to each other all the way down the length of the barrel. After looking at some other types of hives, I noticed "spaced" bars. Is this necessary?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,495

    Default Re: Are spacers neccesary?

    If you have a guide of some sort on the bars you are going to want the guides to be 1 1/4 inch from the next guide. The idea is the bees will use the guide and if you have bars that are 1 1/4 inch wide you will have fewer issues of cross comb. But the bees will draw comb based on their needs, and they may start to the left or right side of the guide, or they may draw wider comb, so having some spacers allows you to adjust the width as necessary to get the comb on it's own bar.

    I'm going to play with some 1 inch bars and use spacers for everything sometime. The only problem I see is they may decide the spacer is more attractive to them then the guide (wedge style bars) and draw out comb on the spacers. This is probably the toughest problem to deal with on a top bar hive. If they start crossed comb it is difficult to fix since the comb is so fragile.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Vashon Island, WA, USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Are spacers neccesary?

    I just installed a package in a TBH that I made with 1" bars and 3/8" spacers. My thought is that I can remove a few spacers and super the hive if I want and/or it will make it easier to feed above the brood nest if I need to in the winter. We'll see what happens.

    dmengdahl,

    what is the length of the top bars in your barrel hive. I have been looking at those plans but it seems that the combs might get huge. I was thinking that it might be necessary to provide some type of support to keep them from breaking off.???

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,495

    Default Re: Are spacers neccesary?

    Dont forget, if you pull out the spacers you will be creating entrances at the end of each bar. You will probably need to come up with a way to block the end space.

    The size of the comb has always been what I've wondered about on a barrel hive. If you don't cut it in half, but come down a bit from center you could reduce the size of the comb.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Lexington, SC
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: Are spacers neccesary?

    honey cow 2.jpghoney cow.jpg Not exactly sure how wide they are..1-1 1/2 inches wide and 24 in long. These are the instruction pics...not mine, but they are the same measurements. My friend made a top bar hive too. I watched him examine his the other day and comb did fall off. I'm not sure what I should do either. These plans are on instructables.com (How to make your own Honey Cow)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,495

    Default Re: Are spacers neccesary?

    1 1/2 inches is going to be too wide. Can your husband rip the boards? If you can take 1/8 from each side you get it down to 1 1/4 and keep the molding in the center of the bar. I can't really give you any advice on how to support the bars. I have seen people put a comb guide down the center as a way to anchor the comb, I'm not sure how well it works. I don't see how you could get a piece of comb to stay attached to a bar if they pull it deep. Maybe if you could put something in the bottom to keep them from pulling down below say 8 inches it would help. You could use some screen and screw it to the sides or something.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Vashon Island, WA, USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Are spacers neccesary?

    I recessed my top bars similar to my Warre hive so It will not create an exit when I pull the spacers and set the feeder / super on top.

    I find 1 3/8" bars work good in my TBH's without spacers. With this width, when they start building comb for stores they start pushing the bars apart a bit. I have seen recommended 1 3/8" bars for brood comb and 1 1/2" for honey stores??? Does the 1 1/4" spacing work for you all the way through your hive?

    As for comb guides / supports, I was thinking one could cut a thin kerf in each bar and insert a strip of hardware cloth (wire mesh) that hangs down maybe two or three inches below the top bar (much like adding foundation strips). If the bees build around the wire mesh it would help hold the comb to the bar???? I suppose one could staple it to the bottom of the bars too as long as it hangs down straight. I really don't know if the bees would work around it.

    In my head I was thinking in a plastic barrel hive one could cut out a thin strip maybe 3 to 4 inches wide the length of the barrel at the bottom of the hive, cover it with screen and then fill the bottom of the hive with wood chips to limit the depth of comb but still provide some ventilation and moisture absorbtion. I am thinking moisture could be a problem in these hives. Also, not much insulation in this hive for colder climates.....

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,495

    Default Re: Are spacers neccesary?

    Nah, 1 1/4 is good for brood, but you will need spacers for stores, or bigger bars. If you know you are in stores you can use wider bars, but I really want to standardize on bars. I'm considering using 1 inch bars as it is easier to make a spacer that is 3/8's of an inch versus 1/8's of an inch. So if you have spacers of 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 you should be good.

    I had not thought of using hardware cloth as a starter strip. It would increase surface area a little.

    I don't know that I would put wood chips in the bottom of the hive. Seems like a good place for critters to hide (SHB).

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,120

    Default Re: Are spacers neccesary?

    What matters is the space center to center. For brood they should be 1 1/4". For honey 1 1/2" works better. If you have top bars that are 1" wide, you need 1/4" spacers. If you have top bars that are 1 1/4" wide you don't need any spacers for the brood, but 1/4" spacers would be good for the honey combs.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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