This is my 3rd year attempting to be a bee keeper and I went with top bar hives. One major reason is my bad back. Lifting supers filled with honey sounded painful at best.
I started off by buying the plans for the BackYardHive Golden Mean hive and made 2 of those.
As I later read on this forum and other places... they seem to small. The brood nest ran straight to the back of the hive an even when it contracted it still only left at most 3 top bars which didn't have brood. It was also impossible to keep them from swarming.Code:Dimensions: 36" L x 19" W x 9" H (top bars are 18" in length)
So this spring made Golden Mean hive, but upped the length to 42". I put in a split and all has been going well until the fall Goldenrod flow (which I'm still in). The hive is packed. Every bar has almost fully drawn comb. The back 8+ are all nectar and the brood nest is packed with nectar where there isn't brood. So much so, I doubt there is a free cell to lay an egg until stuff hatches out. It's still nectar though. I've got nothing that's capped to pull out and give them an empty bar.
I noticed Wyatt Mangum is using 5 foot hives (and I plan on picking up his book for a winter read). If I should move to a 5 foot hive, what about the roof? I've been using an inner cover with a gabled outer cover for my hives so far. In the winter I fill the space with insulation for warmth. I'm worried that a 5 foot long gabled roof is just going to be too heavy for me, but I'm no sure about Mangum's roof system for over-wintering in cooler (but hardly cold) climate.
So, is my 4 ft hive still too small? I can knock out and test a 5 ft hive easily enough (the bees are happy fix my poor carpentry), but can anyone give me the scoop on roofing and over-wintering for SE PA?