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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Gibsonburg, OH, USA
    Posts
    12

    Default Trying to decide between Top Bar and Langstroth

    I just introduced myself in the new members area. I have 3 hives I am getting this spring that are Langstroth. I want to do things as "natural" as possible as far as no chemicals or sugar water and such. While looking into the logistics of that I found many of the people who practice those methods recommend Top Bar (or Warre) hives. The proponents of Top Bar hives really got me curious as to why they like them so much. So that is one question. But I also would like to understand the "legalities" because I am in Ohio and I see there are laws about moveable frame hives and I read on here that Top Bar can be a moveable frame hive but I'm not sure how that works. And I also would like to know how much honey productivity drops (if at all) using a Top Bar hive? My husband will be able to pull pension soon and we are dreaming of using beekeeping to supplement our income. On the sites where I was reading about Top Bar hives, many were doing it for other reasons than profit so just wondered how it compares to Langstroth if hoping for profit. I hope this isn't too many questions in one. I don't have much experience with forums. If I need to ask these questions separately, please let me know

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,201

    Default Re: Trying to decide between Top Bar and Langstroth

    Langstroth equipment is the most popular and abundant. Top bar hive beekeepers are a relatively small percentage of the beekeeping community. Both work. It's a matter of personal preference.

    If there is a club near where you live check it out. Having an adviser nearby is a good thing to have. Club members can show you first hand how things work.

    Whatever style of equipment you go with, enjoy your new hobby.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Midland, MI
    Posts
    577

    Default Re: Trying to decide between Top Bar and Langstroth

    the intent of the removalbe frame regulations is to provide a means of inspecting the hive. a top bar hive can be inspected just as easily as a Lang. For my purposes, i went with langs. This year I am adding a horizontal hive that uses lang deep frames. i prefer the idea of extracting to crush and strain.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gainesboro, Tennessee, USA.
    Posts
    398

    Default Re: Trying to decide between Top Bar and Langstroth

    I have used both Langs and topbars and while I think there are alot of neat things and potential profits to topbar beekeeping. You would have quicker and easier work using a langstroth.

    Top bars are considered a legal movable frame.

    It does not take much work to make a langstroth hive. Many people on here (myself included) build everything except the frames.

    Yes you will have more over head with langstroth but the management and potential profits are much sooner realized.

    Also you can be Just as natural with a langstroth hive. Just use a starter strip in the frame and you have natural comb built just like a top bar or Warre.

    More importantly even seasoned pro's have a hard time switching from treating to going non treatment.
    Finding really good stock that works is priority number 1. Learning how to keep bees alive, healthy, and how to increase your own colonies would be priority number 2. Then once you have got these things down going completely treatment free I think would be good.

    This is coming from a guy who started treatment free and still is treatment free with 90 colonies. The learning curve going treatment free (especially with stock that is not use to it) (and with out the ability to raise your own stock off what survives) can be really steep.

    Also on sugar water. I hate feeding with a passion, BUT nature is fine with killing off 5 out of 6 swarms (on average....according to the USDA)

    If you are wanting to increase hives and survive rough years you will have to feed sometimes. Very little can go a long way, but when it is needed you need to feed unless you are ok with your bees dying or not being strong enough to produce a profitable amount of honey the following spring.

    Now it is wrong for beekeepers to force bees to the point of risking their health for the sake of profit but, the most important thing is that you end up helping supplement your income doing something you love!

    Best of Luck!
    Last edited by Kamon Reynolds; 01-21-2014 at 09:57 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Madisonville,TN
    Posts
    201

    Default Re: Trying to decide between Top Bar and Langstroth

    Gflack

    Top bar folks are kind of a niche group. I almost said fringe, but I would not go that far. I have both types of hives. I sell top bar hives on the side, and hope to expand to Lang nucs and top bar nucs in a couple of years. What kind of business do you want to do with your bees? Honey? Nucs? Queens? Pollination? Wax products? You really need to decide this before you spend a bunch of money. I only really know of one commercial top bar operation in the country: Wyatt Mangum's, and he had numerous pollination contracts. (Google his name and his book will come up, excellent read). Top bars are legal in all states, and are easier to inspect if that helps you any. Also, others might disagree with me, but I would get out of the mindset of never feeding your bees sugar. I think all that leads to is a bunch of starved hives. My last advice is t: research research research and keep asking questions. Also sqkcrk s suggestion about finding a bee club is a great one.
    16 y, 30 hives ULBN, treat when needed.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Lakeland, FL USA
    Posts
    808

    Default Re: Trying to decide between Top Bar and Langstroth

    .

    Perhaps the visual of one of the beauties I build will sway you towards the top bar camp. :-)

    http://lakeland.craigslist.org/grd/4297883066.html

    .
    www.savebeesflorida.com (Honeybee removals and top bar hives)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,999

    Default Re: Trying to decide between Top Bar and Langstroth

    Five hundred bucks?!!
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Spring Tx
    Posts
    117

    Default Re: Trying to decide between Top Bar and Langstroth

    Oldtimer !!! +1, not even gold plated hardware. If I could find buyers for $500 tbh's like that I could fully retire with money in my pocket.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Crivitz, WI
    Posts
    154

    Default Re: Trying to decide between Top Bar and Langstroth

    I built three of these top bar hives for last summer for a little less than 50.00 dollars each. Would have been cheaper if I used scrap/salvaged wood. Being able to build myself, and the price being better allowed me to get into a hobby that I was not sure if I would like. Even with last summer being my first, I really enjoyed using these, and learning about the bees by their use. Most of our club members run Langstroth, so I also had a few opportunities to work with that style of hive. Both are good, but I prefer the TBH



    TopBar17.jpgTopBar18.jpgTopBar34.jpg

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Jackson, MI
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: Trying to decide between Top Bar and Langstroth

    I am running both types of hives and am using this experience to learn both systems. Each system has its own unique challenges and I am learning tons. My experience would lead me to believe that if you are looking for a profit making adventure, I would suggest the Langstroth hives as they can produce serious amounts of honey. They allow you the ability to reuse frames, after they have been extracted...but, I would suggest a regular rotation of those frames as they can darken quickly and effect the color and quality of your product. Top bar hives will avail you good amounts of honey, but the most popular method of extraction is crush and strain, which forces your bees to rebuild all the comb to replace that which you took. I have read several people suggest that one way is more "natural" than the other way of beekeeping, but I would suggest that anytime mankind puts bees in any type of structure we have designed that it isn't what they would have preferred themselves. History shows us they can be incredibly adaptable and will often take up residence in the strangest of places. I have been given the sage advice of deciding exactly what you want out of beekeeping and to follow that course, it might be making healthy bee colonies, it might be a single focus on honey...or trying to find that delicate, and elusive, balance between both. I wish you all success on your adventure and commend you for seeking advice on boards like this.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Greater Hartford area, CT
    Posts
    289

    Default Re: Trying to decide between Top Bar and Langstroth

    When I was considering what type of hive to use, I had narrowed my selection down to foundationless Langs and TBHs. This article outlines my final selection process/criteria. Thought it might be useful to you. Just click the "Why Top Bar Hives" link at the top of the page. http://happyhourtopbar.blogspot.com/

    I believe TBHs are legal in all the states because they have moveable comb. In other words, like the frames in a Lang, they can be removed for inspection.

    As for making money, check out Wyatt mangnum, Sam comfort, and gold star bees. All of these TBH keepers are making money, but particularly in the last two cases, they are quite diversified -- e.g., pollination contracts, selling bee packages, queens, equipment, etc. I have a feeling that this is where the real money comes from.

    TBHs may produce less honey, but the wax and any items you may make from it like candles, salves, lotions, etc. are a source of revenue as well. However, if you really want to reuse TBH wax, it is possible. Look on Youtube for people who have rigged extractors to accept bars from TBHs.

    You mentioned that you are near retirement age and thinking of setting up a professional beeyard. I assume that means you hope to eventually have lots and lots of hives. Please, do not take what I'm about to write in the wrong way, because it is kindly meant. However, you may wish to consider how long you will be able to lift masses of heavy lang boxes. From discussions with people at my local bee club, it seems that a lot of older folks give up beekeeping because of the weight of the Langs and/or back problems caused by them. If you decide to continue with langs, horizontal langs might also be an option. They combine some of the best features of both types of hives -- reusable frames, standard sized equipment, and no heavy lifting.

    Anyway, going back to my original point, I made a chart of the things that were most important to me. You might have a different list of priorities, but you should be able to find a hive that suits your needs. Good luck!
    Last edited by fruitveggirl; 01-22-2014 at 03:57 AM. Reason: additional info

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,999

    Default Re: Trying to decide between Top Bar and Langstroth

    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan151 View Post
    I built three of these top bar hives for last summer for a little less than 50.00 dollars each.
    LOL Duncan. Other than the ghetto lid and no bit of glass, your hives look every bit as good as the $500 "cadillac".
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Caledonia,michigan
    Posts
    72

    Default Re: Trying to decide between Top Bar and Langstroth

    I myself will be trying both,I could not decide which way to go and had enough wood laying around to build 2 TBH's.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Lakeland, FL USA
    Posts
    808

    Default Re: Trying to decide between Top Bar and Langstroth

    .
    That's right, 500 bucks.

    My labor and materials aren't free.

    I build cheaper ones, also.
    www.savebeesflorida.com (Honeybee removals and top bar hives)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,213

    Default Re: Trying to decide between Top Bar and Langstroth

    >I want to do things as "natural" as possible as far as no chemicals or sugar water and such.

    Which, of course does not require a top bar hive, although it might lead you to want natural comb.

    > While looking into the logistics of that I found many of the people who practice those methods recommend Top Bar (or Warré) hives.

    They do tend to attract people of that mindset, but I think part of it is that the comparisons are usually between conventionally run Langstroths and top bar hives. You can do almost everything you do in a top bar hive in a Langstroth.

    >The proponents of Top Bar hives really got me curious as to why they like them so much. So that is one question.

    I think they like natural comb (which you can get in a Langstroth with foundationless frames), they like not lifting boxes (which you can get in a horizontal Langstroth hive), and often they are trying to build a hive themselves and a top bar hive is MUCH simpler to build and can usually be made out of scraps. To me the appeal is the same as a bow and arrow. Simplicity.

    >But I also would like to understand the "legalities" because I am in Ohio and I see there are laws about moveable frame hives and I read on here that Top Bar can be a moveable frame hive but I'm not sure how that works. And I also would like to know how much honey productivity drops (if at all) using a Top Bar hive?

    I have not heard of any issues by anyone about movable combs as long as the combs are indeed movable (which requires maintenance in any hive but especially in a top bar hive)

    >My husband will be able to pull pension soon and we are dreaming of using beekeeping to supplement our income. On the sites where I was reading about Top Bar hives, many were doing it for other reasons than profit so just wondered how it compares to Langstroth if hoping for profit.

    If you build all your hives from scrap wood, top bar hives have a financial advantage. The financial disadvantage to top bar hives is if you have outyards as you will have to make more frequent trips.

    I have a few top bar hives in my backyard. I have none in my outyards. Most of my hives are eight frame mediums. I enjoy the top bar hives, but they are not so practical in an outyard where you want minimum maintenance.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Brandenburg, KY
    Posts
    332

    Default Re: Trying to decide between Top Bar and Langstroth

    What do you want to do? Extract honey or just have comb honey? Once you figure that out, it's an easy decision.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,999

    Default Re: Trying to decide between Top Bar and Langstroth

    Personally I don't think it is easier to build a Top Bar Hive than a Langstroth hive. It's actually much easier to build a Langstroth, other than the frames which should be bought.

    A Langstroth is also cheaper, if we are talking the same internal cubic area. This point is sometimes confused because Langstroths are expandable so cost comparisons are sometimes made between a small TBH and a full sized Langstroth hive with many additional boxes available. TBH keepers are often also people who will build one from scavenged free wood, but this does not make for a fair cost comparison unless compared to a Langstroth that was built from free scavenged wood.

    A Langstroth with natural comb is just as natural as a TBH, perhaps more so as it is vertical, like a tree. TBH's being promoted as more natural, is more verbosity, than fact.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Crivitz, WI
    Posts
    154

    Default Re: Trying to decide between Top Bar and Langstroth

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    LOL Duncan. Other than the ghetto lid and no bit of glass, your hives look every bit as good as the $500 "cadillac".
    Ghetto? I will have you know OT that my covers are some of the nicest scrounged roofing panels that I could find!!!!
    In all actuality they are used around here for ridge caps/skylights for pole buildings. I find them when a contractor brings a few back from a big job. I cut them in half, and they cost me around 7.00 dollars each, and are designed to withstand the elements. I never did understand why you would want a big bulky lid on a TBH that had to be removed and replaced? The four patio pavers at 16lbs each and .69 cents are a bit of an overkill. Next year each hive will only have two. There are several things that I like about the TBH mainly due to them fitting how I like to do things. One of the odd things that I like with the TBH is never having to handle sticky frames. The top bars stay nice and clean. Small detail, but it works for me.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Trying to decide between Top Bar and Langstroth

    Quote Originally Posted by gflack71 View Post
    I want to do things as "natural" as possible as far as no chemicals or sugar water and such.
    To my thinking....you should simply toss a coin as to which type of hive you will use and focus all of your research energy on accomplishing these goals.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,999

    Default Re: Trying to decide between Top Bar and Langstroth

    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan151 View Post
    Ghetto? I will have you know OT that my covers are some of the nicest scrounged roofing panels that I could find!!!!
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

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