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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    baltimore, md
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    Default can you use top-bar frames in a langstroth hive??

    this is a total newb question -- i received and installed my first nuc last weekend from an established local apiary. They use only top-bar frames, my hive is a 8-frame langstroth 1 deep, 2 medium supers. my mentor from the apiary advised that the top bar frames and langstroth frames are interchangeable in terms of size which i get, but after having the nuc in place for a week I'm starting to wonder how this will work...

    When I installed the nuc in the bottom deep, i put in seven top-bar frames (w/drawn comb, honey, brood), and one foundationless langstroth frame (empty). It all made sense at the time, but then I started to think...The top-bar frames essentially create their own inner cover due to their width. With seven edge-to-edge top-bars (creating a tight inner cover) the only place bees have to move up to the medium supers is along side the one langstroth frame.

    Maybe I'm over-thinking this, but am now wondering if I should have included more langstroths in the bottom deep, to increase the likelihood of and space for upward movement of the colony?

    What if they start to propolize this space, making it impossible for the bees to move upward? Have I trapped them to the living space of the bottom deep? Will they swarm?

    Was putting so many top-bars in the langstroth bottom deep wrong? If so, what should I do to remediate???

    Apologies if this isn't the right spot in the forum to post this question...Again, i'm one week in, any help appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    6,194

    Default Re: can you use top-bar frames in a langstroth hive??

    > What if they start to propolize this space, making it impossible for the bees to move upward? Have I trapped them to the living space of the bottom deep?

    An interesting situation. I'm sure you will get a variety of opinions!


    Since you have 7 of 8 bars already drawn, I'd add another box now. Move some of the existing comb/bars to the center of the new box, and fill in with new frames.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: can you use top-bar frames in a langstroth hive??

    Quote Originally Posted by bjwisbar View Post
    ...The top-bar frames essentially create their own inner cover due to their width. With seven edge-to-edge top-bars (creating a tight inner cover) the only place bees have to move up to the medium supers is along side the one langstroth frame.

    Maybe I'm over-thinking this, but am now wondering if I should have included more langstroths in the bottom deep, to increase the likelihood of and space for upward movement of the colony?
    OK, first off, you haven't ruined anything yet....so take a breath or two, there's nothing remiss.
    With 7 full-width top bars & only 1 lang frame in a box, there *is* a likelihood that the bees may not move up into the next box due to the spacing between the lang frame and its neighboring top bar being only 1/2 of a bee space. That said, you're still working on your first box, so they don't yet *need* to go up. Whenever you add your 2nd box, to give the bees more space, simply make sure you pull at least 1 of the top bars from the lower box & move it to the upper box; then install a second lang frame next to the first one in the bottom box, creating at least 1 full-width bee space gap for the bees to move up & down through. That will keep you from creating an "inner cover" out of the top bars, and allow your bees to use the rest of the space (just be sure that a comb from one of the bars you moved up is near this bee space, so the bees will "see" it & use the space.

    After that, the rest is entirely up to you, as that's all I believe you'll need to do to allow your bees to be successful. The rest, pretty much comes down to personal preference

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    baltimore, md
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    6

    Default Re: can you use top-bar frames in a langstroth hive??

    thanks for the guidance, folks! another question related to this top bar situation...i've got one deep and two mediums. the drawn comb on the top bars I have in the deep is too long to fit in a medium super without trimming it (and sacrificing good brood, etc).

    what are the implications of putting a medium w/empty langstroths beneath the deep, to give the bees more space? I believe the general bee inclination is to move upward when expanding, but in absence of anything else, would they move downward if there was nowhere else to go?

    I know this probably not something a one-week beekeeper should attempt, but am curious about what would happen. or should I just get another deep to put on top of the current one and move some of the top bar frames like you guys suggest?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,383

    Default Re: can you use top-bar frames in a langstroth hive??

    What I've done, since I have a few deeps and don't really want any more, is to create a few three inch tall expansion rims. I can put one of these below any medium and bingo it's the same depth as a deep super.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  6. #6

    Default Re: can you use top-bar frames in a langstroth hive??

    have you thought about cutting the comb off of the top bars and putting it into frames? If you're going to use langstroth, that might be the best way to go in the long run.
    Greg Whitehead, Ten Mile, TN
    Blog - http://gregsbees.blogspot.com/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    baltimore, md
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    6

    Default Re: can you use top-bar frames in a langstroth hive??

    I like that idea, but...sounds pretty involved! I'm only one week in to having bees, and am still getting my legs under me. I'll look it up online, but any reputable resources or simple trusted tutorials would be appreciated!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
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    Default Re: can you use top-bar frames in a langstroth hive??

    Quote Originally Posted by bjwisbar View Post
    what are the implications of putting a medium w/empty langstroths beneath the deep, to give the bees more space? I believe the general bee inclination is to move upward when expanding, but in absence of anything else, would they move downward if there was nowhere else to go?
    In a "natural" hive (hollow tree trunk, hanging under a branch, etc.) the bees *always* build from the top to the bottom. Adding an empty box of framed under the box they're already in will be about the closest approximation of their natural environment you could ever give them...they might even thank you for it

    Also, if you're wanting to eventually get rid of those top bars that your bees started out on, keep putting more boxes UNDER that deep as the bees need room to expand, until it's full of nothing but capped honey; then you can pull it, extract the one lang frame in there, and crush+strain the combs on the top bars. After that, your bees will be "fully converted"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    baltimore, md
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    6

    Default Re: can you use top-bar frames in a langstroth hive??

    Quote Originally Posted by robherc View Post
    Also, if you're wanting to eventually get rid of those top bars that your bees started out on, keep putting more boxes UNDER that deep as the bees need room to expand, until it's full of nothing but capped honey; then you can pull it, extract the one lang frame in there, and crush+strain the combs on the top bars. After that, your bees will be "fully converted"
    thanks for the info! i really like that approach, and am going to try it as I DO want to get rid of the top bars. From what i've read top bars can be difficult to maintain (?) and I'm new at this...

    I already made (what I think is) a big mistake with bridge comb on these top bars that has likely horrified folks in the general Bee Forum: http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...and-brood-loss.

    I'll be adding another super below, and gradually transferring to all langstroths. Thanks again for the info and support.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
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    Default Re: can you use top-bar frames in a langstroth hive??

    You're welcome, and keep us posted on your progress

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    Suffolk, NY, USA
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    Default Re: can you use top-bar frames in a langstroth hive??

    bjwisbar, I am currently working out of some top bars I have in a 10 frame medium Lang hive. I have been following the method suggested by robherc above. It's been a week since I put the mediums BELOW the top bars and will check in a few days to see if they are moving down. The flow is on here big time and my last check showed the top bars full of bees, nectar and pollen. From the looks of things they only have room left to move down- or out up into a tree.

    The hive on the right is the conversion hive. The top med. white box & cedar shim contain the over sized top bar combs. Below that the med. blue box and med. white box contain med frames with foundation. If all goes well I'll retire the top bars when the bees move the brood nest down into the bottom boxes and fill the top bars with honey.
    My thanks to robherc for this method as I was about to put the new boxes above the top bars.
    IMAG0193.jpg

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