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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Orange, Tx
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    Default Decided to build my hives! Need Advice!

    Langstroth or Top Bar?

    Cedar or Pine?

    Also does anyone have good plans to build a Langstroth or Topbar? With a list of what supplies to buy to build. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,120

    Default Re: Decided to build my hives! Need Advice!

    There are a lot less parts to a top bar hive. If you have the woodworking skill, you can do a Langstroth, or if you're not that good at the fine details you could build the boxes and buy the frames.

    Langstroth plans here for various parts. Choose the one you want:
    http://www.beesource.com/build-it-yourself/

    Top bar hive here:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
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    Sep 2013
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    Orange, Tx
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    Default Re: Decided to build my hives! Need Advice!

    which style hive is better to start with as a beginner? And is Cedar my best option for wood? In this case not worried about cost.

  4. #4
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    Jul 2013
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    Morro Bay, California, USA
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    Default Re: Decided to build my hives! Need Advice!

    My core advice: your first hives should be plain-vanilla Langs. Nothing exotic, fancy or new-agey. Learn the basics first.

    Start with three hives.

    Sure, Top Bars have a lower cost of entry, but they require real skill to manage. The classic problem with new beekeepers is they lose their queens, and replacing a queen is way easier in a Lang set-up. You have to manage comb building in a TB, and the best way to do that is have good comb to model -- to do that you need a supply you can cull.

    Backyard keepers lose their hives, and their queens fail. A likely explanation is the hive-raised queens fail to mate (no out-mating drones available). Ameiliorate this issue with a minimum apiary of three hives. Queens, especially for new keepers, are chronically replaced over the first summer.

    The species of wood doesn't matter one iota for a beginner, don't get hung up on details like that. You don't even need finger joints, sure it looks nice and seems "classic", but all that matter is bee space in the box. Its just a box.

    I do my own design of Screen Bottom -- download plans at: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3H7...it?usp=sharing

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Southern Connecticut
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    90

    Default Re: Decided to build my hives! Need Advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jalek View Post
    which style hive is better to start with as a beginner? And is Cedar my best option for wood? In this case not worried about cost.
    The style is based on intentions as a keeper. Want to harvest honey, etc.

    My hives are mostly pine or plywood. Money being an issue or not I still wouldn't bother w/cedar unless you're not painting them. If you're painting it won't truly matter. Heck commecial beeks aren't painting their pine ones either.

    There are a lot of options but most of us are probably running some form a Lang hive, whether 10 frame deeps to 8 frame meds, again it's preference. Natural size comb v 5.4 comb, etc. You have time to learn before you force yourself into a set way (you don't have to order the bees for a few months). I would read as much as you can, maybe get a few good books and load up the forums every day and see where you needs and wants take you.

    If you decide to build just adhere to the rules of bee space and you'll be fine, the bees will do the rest.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Franklin, New Hampshire
    Posts
    128

    Default Re: Decided to build my hives! Need Advice!

    Jalek-

    Cedar or Pine? It's your preference / money. I started this past spring and opted for Cedar because I did not want to paint my stuff. But it's more expensive than pine. $0.70 bf for Pine of $2.00 bf Cedar (These are my local prices).

    Top Bar vs. Lang- I started with two Top Bar hives. If I could do it over again, knowing what my goals are (I'd like to get to around 10-20 hives), I'd do it over again with Lang equipment. 10-Frame mediums. Which is actually what I'm switching over to (not really much a transition since I only have two hives & two nucs).

    Cons to the Top Bar from my 1st Year Experience:

    -Cross comb
    -Reattaching comb to top bars
    -Comb collapse
    -Understanding where the brood nest was / how to manipulate it
    -Challenges with fatter comb near the top of bars where the bees were storing honey
    -Spacing of bars
    -Not being able to see anything until a few bars were removed
    -Reassembling the hive after inspection
    -Getting the bees to move horizontal (Ain't happening in a Top Bar based on my experience, but others probably have had lots of success)
    -Ventilation / Humidity Challenges (We put a sensor in one hive to monitor humidity / temp levels)

    Pros to the Top Bar from my 1st Year Experience:

    -Bees built the cells size they wanted
    -Forced me to go slower and be patient
    -Interesting to watch them expand
    -Easier to make than the lang stuff
    -No lifting any heavy stuff (Just 1 frame at a time)


    But it's all what your after. Read up a lot on both. Wish I had done more reading than I had before getting my bees; I constantly feel like I don't know enough to make good decisions.
    Last edited by Jared.Downs; 09-13-2013 at 11:37 AM. Reason: bad spelling

  7. #7

    Default Re: Decided to build my hives! Need Advice!

    Popular topic indeed. Here's my two cents:

    First off, I started with TBH because I wanted the bees to pull natural comb, not to be forced ito whatever foundation you give them. Solution, run foundationless frames with a wax starter strip. I learned with the TBH that even a starter strip doesn't always make the bees build straight. My advice for a beginner is to start remove as many variables as possible. So start wih foundation and then begin interspacing foundationless combs later on.

    Again, I started with TBH but have since swapped over to Langs as my goals changed. If all you want is observation and a garden hive, go for the TBH. It's easy enough to cut combs off bars and band them into Lang frames later if you change your mind (like I did). Putting combs onto bars is not nearly as easy of you take the opposite route.

    Now as for building your own, I build ALL my own equipment except frames. Frames are just too intricate to be worth my time. I order them unassembled, pre-cut, from Mann Lake 100 at a time for something like $.75 each. No way you could build one for that cost unless you really have nothing else to do. I've been tinkering on how I could build my own frames in rapid fashion but it takes some planning.

    As for the box (Lang) components, it's all simple square stuff. I do all mine with a table saw and cutoff saw. And really you only need the table saw for the kerfs/rabbets, so if you have a decent router instead you could get away without the table saw even.

    Lumber type is up to you, but I don't advise plywood from a weathering standpoint. I use plywood only on my bottom board and outer cover (covered with metal) so they never really see moisture.

    I have a series of videos on my YouTube channel of building my own stuff, and am trying to make sure I eventually cover every item from start to finish, so the aspiring DIY builder can use my channel basically as a tutoring source. It's just my way of giving back, as I have learned so much from YouTube. If I missed a topic (and I know I have a lot) let me know what you'd like to see and I can try to better explain or make a better video.

    You can find my YouTube page by going to YouTube and just typing in my name "Tom Brueggen". Then I have playlists sorted for bee removal, maladies, DIY, and swarm captures. DIY is what your after. Good luck!

    On a final note, I have learned that by building my own boxes I have integrated several of my hobbies into one: beekeeping, woodworking, and I suppose wood milling. I buy rough cut lumber from a local mill for $.60/BF (vs $1.60/BF at the lumber yard), so I can justify the time I spend planing lumber. Plus I help a local business.
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Walker, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    900

    Default Re: Decided to build my hives! Need Advice!

    There are as many styles to keeping bees as there are beekeepers, for sure! First decide WHY you are keeping bees. Honey? Pollinating your garden? Because there's a shortage of bees and you want to help? Each one will affect how you will keep bees, so make that decision early. It's a whole lot easier to change a plan than an actual box already built.

    I have no experience with top bars, so anything I mention will be about Langs.

    The smaller number of hives you keep the more important it is to use uniform equipment for everything. Every box/frame that can do dual jobs will make it so much easier to keep your bees and, therefore, so much more enjoyable. If you use all mediums or all deeps, then no matter what you need to do, if you have any empty box available, you have the equipment to do what you need. Too often when you use multiple sizes and you have an emergency, you have the frames you need but not the right sized box to put them in, or you have a box but the frames are too big or too small for it, and that becomes another whole crisis on top of the one you were dealing with! So size is your second important decision.

    Building equipment is not complicated. I just put together about a dozen complete hives and a couple of stands over this summer. My saw took a dump on the first day, so I built everything using hand saws. Way more effort to build--but the boxes still work. All that is necessary is a good set of plans, the ability to read carefully and measure accurately, and PATIENCE. I'm a retiree, so funds tend to be tight. I used all scrap lumber and only had to actually buy nails, glue, and some 1/8" hardware cloth for my bottom boards. (And I did buy a new router bit but I had the router.) Now I have to buy some paint.

    Personally, I'd recommend you read everything you can between now and January and start building then. By the time you've built your first box, you will know if you want to keep going. That would be the point to order your bees for spring, be it nucs or packages. Find yourself a bee club and go meet some beeks, too. Learn about mites and treatments and SHB and everything else you can find to learn about. This is one hobby where there is no such thing as too much knowledge. If you read enough, you may even save yourself some time and money by not wasting it on stuff you do not nor never will need.

    Good luck and ENJOY!

    Rusty
    Rusty Hills Farm -- home of AQHA A Rusty Zipper & Rusty's Bees ( LC and T)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Clover, WV
    Posts
    155

    Default Re: Decided to build my hives! Need Advice!

    I built 2 TB hives, a very nice garden hex hive, and a couple dozen medium and deep langs. I would advise to go with langs for a couple common sense reasons: 1) If you buy or sell any bees, lang gear is the only show in town 2) Go with all mediums or all deeps, because of sheer convenience.

    If you plan on having a couple of hives, and one of them is in trouble, you will be able to obtain drawn comb, brood, honey frames, etc easily if you run langs. If you have a TB hive, you have to cut out these resources and fasten them to your TBs or TB frames.

    Check out my Bee Stuff album in my profile. If there is a good reason to go TB, it's the good looks, and everyone I know wants me to build them a hex hive. :-)

    Hope this helps.

    J
    John Sampson-Tucker County, WV
    14 hives - All cutouts and swarms

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Decided to build my hives! Need Advice!

    Jalek,

    This is my second year so I still have a lot to learn but here are my thoughts on this for what they are worth.

    I have KTBHs and love them. I did try a Langstroth nuc and didn't much care for it but I could see there were some advantages to that style over the KTBHs. Langstroth's are kept by the majority of beekeepers and that is a huge advantage to someone starting out. It is easier to get advice, bees, etc... for Langs. I hate to bring the T word up here but if you plan to do that or think you might it is easier to handle with a Lang as most are packaged for use in Langstroth hives.

    The items I like best about my KTBH are items that could be non-issues if I had a Long Lang. I love my viewing windows and the fact that I can just stand and inspect without bending or heavy lifting. I also had a raccoon or something bother my Nuc which was closer to the ground whereas I have never seen evidence that the KTBHs (which stand at waist height) have had any predation issues.

    One thing to think about is how much you want to inspect or manipulate your hives. From what I have seen, heard, and experienced a TBH requires more frequent checks and manipulations (which I have enjoyed), a Langstroth fewer, and a Warre seems to require the least.

    Oh, and I almost forgot! If you live anywhere that you can put swarm traps out I would buy bees for the first two hives and then try to capture a swarm for the third. If you aren't successful getting a swarm you can always put a split into the third hive later.

    Whichever way you go I hope you enjoy your new hobby!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Casey, Il, USA
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    1,067

    Default Re: Decided to build my hives! Need Advice!

    I love how everyone says you cant borrow from other hives for a TBH ? why not the same recommendation goes for them as langs, start off with 2-3 so you CAN borrow from one for the other if the need arises. I run both TBH and 8 frame Med Lang, My TBH are way easier to work and with a viewing window, I can check the entire hive at once without ever disturbing them. For honey production, you deffantly want a lang so you can spin it out and let them re-use comb, sure you can do that with a TBH too, but the trouble isn't worth it. If I was starting completely over, I would do a hybrid of the two and do a LONG Lang. As a matter of fact I will probably do one next yr. Get the benefits of working one comb at a time and the stability of lang frames, IMO the best of both worlds.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,120

    Default Re: Decided to build my hives! Need Advice!

    >which style hive is better to start with as a beginner?

    It's not so much a question of beginner or not, as where the hive is and how often you will be checking it. If it's in a outyard a long way away, I would do the Langstroth. If it's in your backyard, you could go either way. The differences are:

    A top bar hive you'll get natural comb. But if you use foundationless frames you can do the same in a Langstroth.
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm

    A top bar hive you'll get a horizontal hive (no boxes to lift). But if you build your own horizontal Langstroth hive you could do the same.
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beeshorizontalhives.htm

    > And is Cedar my best option for wood? In this case not worried about cost.

    Cedar is ok. It's expensive and that's why I don't use it. It's worth it for parts that are in contact with the ground (over pine anyway). Things like lids that face more weather and bottoms that are exposed to more moisture are worth using cedar on.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    580

    Default Re: Decided to build my hives! Need Advice!

    Since it is a hobby and you are doing it yourself, use cedar. Looks better, lasts longer.IMG-20130801-00019.jpg

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