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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
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    Virginia, Minnesota
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    57

    Default Top covers vs roof system, what works best

    I am trying to decide what type of covers to build for my top bar hives, I see some that are a very simple piece of something lied on top of the top bars, I see things that look like telescoping top covers and others that are a roof system (most hinged). What do you like about your style of cover and what don't you like. Pictures are always helpful.

    If you use the simple method of plywood, plastic, etc. laying on the top bars do you put a piece of fabric or not and why?

    I use quilt boxes on my Langstroth hives and was thinking of using something similar for the top bars. Your thoughts?
    Do you have bee space above your bars at all? I know they are not designed for that but I am thinking of using Lang frames in a horizontal hive and bee space is easy to build in. Pros and cons?

    I use top entrances on my Langs but are top or bottom entrances better fro top bar hives? Long side or end for entrances?
    Trying to finalize my plans soon. Thanks Tom
    TF far northern Minnesota

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Madisonville,TN
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    185

    Default Re: Top covers vs roof system, what works best

    Tom

    I use a simple plywood cover with 2 by 4 spacers between the plywood and the top bars. This prevents overheating the hive, no comb collapse, no fanning, and no bearding. This might not be a problem where you live though. I do not use fabric for the same reason, would make the hive to hot. In my opinion (everyone knows what they say about those) the hinged and peaked covers are for looks and an unnecessary expense. Top bar hives should be about simplicity.
    As for entrances, I use both top entrances and end entrances. I see no difference, expect with top entrances you do not have to worry as much with skunks and mice, and it does aid in releasing moisture in winter. I do not use a side entrance because I like my brood nest at the front of the hive, not in the middle. They will put the brood nest near the entrance. As for using Lang frames, I have seen it, but then it is technically a long hive and not a top bar. Hope this helps, check out my website for pics: topbarhiveguy.com
    Last edited by Matt903; 12-03-2013 at 08:01 PM. Reason: Grammar

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Top covers vs roof system, what works best

    There were a few threads on hive design mid-season and one of them was on roofs. Might be helpful. http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...lk-about-roofs
    And
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...ng-Suggestions

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Casper, Wyoming
    Posts
    148

    Default Re: Top covers vs roof system, what works best

    I have mix of telescoping and simple ones like mat described. I had to rebuild one of the telescoping ones the other after the wind took it off. Simple is likely better but I haven't decided yet. Haven't figured out a way to insulate that I thought allowed adequate air flow. My climate is a shade warmer than yours but drier and more breezy in Wyo.

    I would do end entrances for the same reason as Matt stated.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    93

    Default Re: Top covers vs roof system, what works best

    I have one with a lovely peaked roof and one like Matt's, a piece of plywood with a couple of two by fours - there is no discernable difference in the impact on the hives that I can see. I do get a lot of bearding but then again it's quite hot and humid in the summer here so I don't think the roof design is the cause.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Isle of Wight, VA
    Posts
    401

    Default Re: Top covers vs roof system, what works best

    I have a gabled aluminum roof. kit came from beeline apiaries. I think it is a bit more "decorative". it also fits in such way that air can flow over the top bars to dissipate some of the heat.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Chicagoland, IL, USA
    Posts
    71

    Default Re: Top covers vs roof system, what works best

    Sorry for the late reply - it's not the season to be on-line....it's cookie baking time!

    I built peaked roofs for my tbh - I hinged them with a bolt on each end, as it's easier for me to handle. I chose this management system to minimize lifting heavy materials (bad shoulder), so a hinged roof allows me to simply 'push' it up and viola, the hive is right there! No lifting roofs on or off the ground, no wrangling pieces of metal and rocks/bricks around...and the neighborhood kids didn't give it a second look, as it didn't look 'curious'.

    I built a frame out of 2x2's for the roof, and covered it with scrap aluminum ductwork pieces we had lying around. They've worked very well thus far!

    I have found with the peaked roof that I need to be vigilant in springtime to avoid having paper wasps nest inside of it. I had repeated queens attempting to build in there. Each was evicted promptly, but I had to look every other day under the roof for about a month - and I'd have a new wasp queen in there every other day. Persistent buggers, but I won that war last year.

    I also found the peaked roof better for the northern Illinois cold - it allowed me space to put a pair of pillowcases with some unfaced insulation inside to help insulate the space.

    You asked for photos:
    IMG_3954.jpg

    IMG_3953.jpg

    IMG_3952.jpg

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    660

    Default Re: Top covers vs roof system, what works best

    I would build it as a longhive because it gives you more choice. If you want to use top bars you can, but you can still put supers on top as well. See the thread about my 3x Longhive here:

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...07-3x-Longhive

    It needs a cover on top, I'm using a sheet of clear PVC (carpet protecto) which is working well, but needs to be tied down. You could use a sheet of plywood on top if it is not supered.

    These lids can be used as top entrances as well. Ventilation is vertical, larger entrances at the top. Obviously air flows between frames, which would be an issue with top bars.

    You could made lids by simply gluing two pieces of plywood together with the bottom one having a "V" shape cut out of it for an entrance. You would need to make frames rests lower though to maintain a bee space above the frames.



    You could also make top bars like this. It is 19mm(3/4") pine with two map pins for spacing.

    Last edited by MattDavey; 12-19-2013 at 05:48 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Virginia, Minnesota
    Posts
    57

    Default Re: Top covers vs roof system, what works best

    Thanks everyone, I guess I will have to build one of each to see which I like better. And thanks for the pics, I must be a visual learner. Matthew, I am interested in you pushpin frames, can you post a picture of the rest of the frame? I assume you make it from scratch? Thanks
    TF far northern Minnesota

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    660

    Default Re: Top covers vs roof system, what works best

    Here's the rest of the home made frame. I suppose if you wanted to you could just use the top bar. To make the comb guide I put a groove down the center on a table saw, then glue in the icecream sticks. The bamboo skewers make the comb much more stable.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Virginia, Minnesota
    Posts
    57

    Default Re: Top covers vs roof system, what works best

    I see you used butt joints for the frames, Will they hold up? Do you use anything to make them stronger? I like the idea of the bamboo skewers. I will make up some to see what I think. Have you been using these very long? Thanks Matthew
    TF far northern Minnesota

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
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    660

    Default Re: Top covers vs roof system, what works best

    Each joint has a nail and glue. I've made at least 60 or more over the last two years and haven't had any problems with them. Just the comb guide is better when it's a strip of foundation.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
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    1,439

    Default Re: Top covers vs roof system, what works best

    Late on this thread, work is getting in the way of important stuff. I have made a few tops out of mainly coraplast (I stocked up on political signs after the last presidential election). What I do is make a wooden frame that sets on cleats on the hive. I cut a piece of that one inch blue rigid foam insulation and I set that in the top of the frame. I then glue the coraplast to the foam with spray contact cement and attach the coraplast on the ends and side of the frame with gorilla glue. They go together very fast and weigh very little. On the first hive I made I had a gabled roof, but it was a pain to build and is a bit of a pain to put on and take off. The only disadvantage I have found with the coraplast is that the whole thing is very light and so I put some eyes on the end to attach some rope to tie it to the hive. That and coraplast is a bit of a pain to paint. Nothing sticks to it well. I have found some plastic spray paint that is OK though.

    The coraplast lids on my swarm traps have held up better than the wood lids on some of them. The squirrels don't chew on the coraplast.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    1,251

    Default Re: Top covers vs roof system, what works best

    Matt, what is the width of your frames including the map pins?

    That looks like a good cheap way to make a lot of frames quickly.
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Roanoke, VA
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    Default Re: Top covers vs roof system, what works best

    Why would it be any different than using a follower and having an entrance at one end?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Crivitz, WI
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    131

    Default Re: Top covers vs roof system, what works best

    You can put the entrance on the side of the hive, and close to one of the ends, it does not have to be in the middle to be on the side.
    I like the looks of the fancy TBHs, some of you really put in some time and effort and turn out a great design, but it is too much for me. I find beauty in simplicity and function, but to each their own.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Iowa
    Posts
    531

    Default Re: Top covers vs roof system, what works best

    We have one that we built a 1x3 frame in a square and then scewed some steel roofing or siding on. It works well, but it's kind of a pain to handle alone, though not too bad. The "front" part of the frame is offset and the lid sits out over the end a bit to block wind. that 1x3 sitting on top of the top bars gives a great top entrance and also gives the rain a direction in which to roll off the hive.


    Entrance on left hive would be towards the camera. On the right hive facing away.

    We have one more like that, but the other I'm installing tonight is a piece of plywood to cover + a quick coat of Kilz2 on top to help shed water.

  18. #18
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    Aug 2013
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    Crivitz, WI
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    Default Re: Top covers vs roof system, what works best


  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
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    Default Re: Top covers vs roof system, what works best

    You can what I call an abbreviated follower on the front if you have an end or front side entrance. It allows you to remove it and then the first bar so you are right at the brood nest.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Springfield, MO
    Posts
    81

    Default Re: Top covers vs roof system, what works best

    Ours sets pretty close to the house so I wanted it to look decent. Heat can also be an issue so I thought the ventilated roof would help. I also designed it to hold a piece of r5 insulation board. I will probably slip that in there when it really gets hot/cold and leave it out in moderate weather. It ended up kind of awkward to take on and off by myself so I stuck some hinges on there. All the materials were scrap anyways so I have no cost other than time involved. It took me one evening after work to get it built.



    hinged.jpg

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