Results 1 to 12 of 12
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Spanaway, WA
    Posts
    138

    Default Some topbar questions

    Hi all,

    I'm going to build a top bar hive but I have a few questions before I decide on a design

    1) How do you keep bees from attaching comb to the walls? My bees would readily attach to the outsides of foundationless frames. so why not walls?

    2) In photos I see the top bars pressed together to form (in effect) a lid, usually with either just plywood and a rock on top or a fancy looking cover. I also read this on Michael Bush's website

    Question: Why can't I make all the bars the same width?

    Answer: You can. But regardless of what you do, the bees won't build all the combs the same width, so it's difficult to keep them on the bars. If you want to build them all the same width, I'd make them all 1 1/4" wide and make a lot of 1/4" spacers to put in between when the bees decide to make fatter combs to get them back in the center of the bars.
    How do people usually manage the width of their bars? a bunch of spacers sounds like a pain but adding unfilled space between the bars would either leave openings between each bar which sounds bad because there is no inner cover to cap things off. Plus they might come up and propolize the cover to the bars, which also sounds bad to me.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Bristol,RI
    Posts
    354

    Default Re: Some topbar questions

    They sometimes attach to the sides but not much.. can slice it to loosen it up pretty easy.

    2. plywood with a few bricks is plenty. can get fancier if you want but not necessary.

    3. my gf's TB hive i think we used 1 3/8 for all of them. any spacers would close the space at the level of the top bars so it won't make gaps.

    4. top bars are effectively the inner cover. they do add propolis along the inside. not the outside. there are no gaps.



    from inside.. no gaps

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Spanaway, WA
    Posts
    138

    Default Re: Some topbar questions

    Interesting.

    If they start building comb that's, for example, 1 3/4" wide and your top bars are 1 1/2" wide do you just fabricate your next bars wider to keep them in line with your bars?

    So, is there an advantage to having a triangular guide vs a strip like Popsicle sticks? I ask because I can fabricate the latter a lot easier than the former; My tools are limited to hand tools and a miter saw.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Posts
    117

    Default Re: Some topbar questions

    Comb width ranges from 1 1/4 to 1 1/2. There seem to be 2 systems for bar width: use 1 3/8 for everything (standard lang); and use 1 1/4 in the brood nest and 1 1/2 for honey. There are advantages and disadvantages to each system and I've seen the bees get off the centerline on both systems and shims would be a benefit in either case. I keep an extra bar or 2 and a bunch of shims so I can make the space at the end of the hive close.

    The triangular guides are common too. It's a good idea to run the guides pretty close to the walls as if they aren't, the bees tend to curve the comb. An airgap between the bars and roof is a good idea in the summer so the sun hitting it doesn't just transfer heat straight through.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Ramona, Ca. , USA
    Posts
    33

    Default Re: Some topbar questions

    I'm new to bee keeping. I watched some u-tubes on how to build a top bar hive. wranglerstar.com doe's a good job and I built a top bar hive using his ideas. I made a few changes that fit me. ( I ordered a package of bee's to arrive this April )
    My bars are 1 1/2" and I cut the guides with my sliding compound miter saw. ripped 1x12 @ 30 degrees. Flip the board and cut again.
    [URL=http://s988.photobucket.com/user/J-Rat/media/P1030146.jpg.html]

    Looking forward to getting my bee's and starting a new hobby. As I wait for my bee's I am putting in a garden. ( lot's of post holes and fencing )
    Vegetables, Black berries,tomatoes,cucumbers,beans,corn etc. ( wild flowers for my girls ) I'll post pic's of the garden when it's up and running.
    Last edited by J-Rat; 02-06-2014 at 09:06 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Madisonville,TN
    Posts
    185

    Default Re: Some topbar questions

    All of my bars are 1 1/2 wide. I have never used spacers, and never had the least bit of problem whatsoever. They build brood nests and store honey just fine with the bars I have been using. I also just use a simple piece of plywood as a cover, it has worked fine also.

    topbarhiveguy.com
    16 y, 30 hives ULBN, treat when needed.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Some topbar questions

    1) I noticed this past summer they made more sidewall attachments when they were drawing and quickly filling combs during a flow. The combs were still very soft so the builders must have decided they needed extra support. I started running my hive tool or a sharp knife down the sides to make sure they were freed before inspecting them. I do think the angle helps reduce attachments though.

    2) I have peaked roofs and love the look but they are more of a pain to make. One nice aspect of these hives is you can decide how much work and creativity you want to put in. There is nothing wrong with functional but simple.

    3) I've used all the different typical sizes and I would term the spacers handy, not a pain. I had a problem with the bees building a monster comb, 3" wide at the top. I ended up taking it after the bottom part collapsed because I wanted to get the normal spacing back. The spacers also helped when I did a chop n crop from a Lang nuc into the TBH. I just used the Lang bars with the spacers in between until they built up enough that I could take out the Lang bars.
    3rd yr - 1 KTBH & 4 KTBH nucs - TF - USDA Zn 6b

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    London, United Kingdom
    Posts
    184

    Default Re: Some topbar questions

    Much the same responses as everyone else to be honest, but agreement is so rare in beekeepers it should be recognised and celebrated

    1) How do you keep bees from attaching comb to the walls? My bees would readily attach to the outsides of foundationless frames. so why not walls?

    You don't this is going to happen to some extent. The kenyan topbar hive has sloped sides and is supposed to reduce this as bees do not like to attach to a floor. Always leaving an empty bar or follower board (dummy board) at the end of the comb filled topbars give you access so you can slide a thin bladed bread knife (bottom to top) up the edge of the comb. Quick and easy.

    2) In photos I see the top bars pressed together to form (in effect) a lid, usually with either just plywood and a rock on top or a fancy looking
    cover. I also read this on Michael Bush's website


    The topbars are themselves the top of the hive so need to be pressed together. Even if you are using follower boards to reduce the internal dimensions all topbars should be fitted snuggly. Anything else is really just a weather cover. I favour a hinged pitched roof allowing easy access, some wind cover when needed, and space for a feeder or insulation in the winter. It is a simple frame which sits on the legs and I used fencig featheredge boards.
    2013-09-02 21.10.28.jpg
    2013-09-05 20.58.42.jpg
    2013-09-05 21.00.21.jpg

    How do people usually manage the width of their bars?

    Many people use many widths. I believe if the bees are used to building natural comb they favour 34mm topbars (depending on species) otherwise 36mm is expected. I think most have moved to 38mm throughout BUT it is good to have 6mm shims (thin bit of wood) to insert in the honey area to space out the comb a little more. It is less work for the bees to make the honey comb wider than it is to build a whole new comb. It is not alot of work really.
    hope this helps

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Bristol,RI
    Posts
    354

    Default Re: Some topbar questions

    August i'll add some disagreement to keep up appearances we haven't used follower boards and haven't had a problem with it. just bars all the way down, the bees use what they need and keep moving down the line. Nice thing is you can forget about them for a while and not worry about them running out of room. to find the last comb you can start at the 'back' and a quick look will show how far in they are. or tap on the top. full bars sound different than empty.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,481

    Default Re: Some topbar questions

    >1) How do you keep bees from attaching comb to the walls?

    You don't.

    > My bees would readily attach to the outsides of foundationless frames. so why not walls?

    They do. Not real solidly, but they do. You just cut it loose. They seldom rebuild it after you cut it loose.

    >How do people usually manage the width of their bars? a bunch of spacers sounds like a pain but adding unfilled space between the bars would either leave openings between each bar which sounds bad because there is no inner cover to cap things off. Plus they might come up and propolize the cover to the bars, which also sounds bad to me.

    I just have two widths of bars. When they start to cheat the comb over to the edge, I put in a fatter top bar after that and feed the skinny ones into the middle of the brood nest over time. I don't use the skinnier bars just to be arbitrary. First the bees insist on skinner combs in the brood nest. Second, I WANT skinnier combs in the brood nest. The bees can cover the brood better when they are spaced 1 1/4" than if they are spaced 1 3/8" let alone 1 1/2".
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Spanaway, WA
    Posts
    138

    Default Re: Some topbar questions

    Thanks guys! I have a much better picture of whats going on now.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Hephzibah, GA
    Posts
    116

    Default Re: Some topbar questions

    I've experimented with different width bars and have settled on 1 1/2", too. In our warmer climate the bees seem to do well with that width. I used two different widths previously and didn't find it easy to work with, and the bees didn't seem to like the narrower bars, pushing each one further into the next. I've had to gradually cull those bars. As for the roof, we have American cockroaches in our region, and if any space is left where they can squeeze in, they will. I had to change one roof to sit flat on the top bars because roaches had fouled them so badly I was afraid that opening up the hive would contaminate the comb. I've tried two different angles for the sides. At 110 degrees there is some side comb attachment, but at 120 there isn't. It's nice to be able to lift bars anywhere in the hive without having to go from one side and move in, one bar at a time, cutting attachments as I go.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads