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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Kathleen, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    22

    Default 3 Foot or 4 Foot

    I am about to build a top bar hive. I need opinions on the lenght. 3 foot? or 4 foot? The plan I have suggest 3 foot but others suggest 4 foot. What do you think? All input welcome




    Thanks
    kenny

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: 3 Foot or 4 Foot

    Just under 4 feet so they don't get too crowded and swarm often, have a place to store honey, and so that you can use an 8 foot board cut in half for the roof.
    3rd yr - 1 KTBH & 4 KTBH nucs - TF - USDA Zn 6b

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Chicago, ILL. USA
    Posts
    30

    Default Re: 3 Foot or 4 Foot

    I'd go 4'. That's what I'll be building myself.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Bardstown, KY
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: 3 Foot or 4 Foot

    I build mine 4'. It's nice to have the extra room to expand or put a feeder behind the follower board.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Posts
    120

    Default Re: 3 Foot or 4 Foot

    Right around 4 ft. I've seen somewhere that at 3 ft swarming is unlikely and at 5 ft they never use the back foot or so. Think about what you are building the roof out of... Chances are it'll end up at 4 ft and the hive body slightly shorter.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Hardin Cty, KY, USA
    Posts
    112

    Default Re: 3 Foot or 4 Foot

    Choose your bar size FIRST then count the bars that will make up around 4 foot go just short so you can cut 8 foot lumber in half like Colleen said. Things to take into consideration: a blade on a table saw, circular saw is 1/8th inch wide so cutting 8 foot lumber in half will not be exactly 4 foot, you need a 1/4 inch spacer against each wall front and back to maintain the bee space between the wall and the first and last comb face so you will need to add this 1/2 in. to your bar calculation. Build the hive around the bars and you wont come up short anywhere and waste materials.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Dover, NH
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: 3 Foot or 4 Foot

    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan Thacker View Post
    Choose your bar size FIRST then count the bars that will make up around 4 foot go just short so you can cut 8 foot lumber in half like Colleen said. Things to take into consideration: a blade on a table saw, circular saw is 1/8th inch wide so cutting 8 foot lumber in half will not be exactly 4 foot, you need a 1/4 inch spacer against each wall front and back to maintain the bee space between the wall and the first and last comb face so you will need to add this 1/2 in. to your bar calculation. Build the hive around the bars and you wont come up short anywhere and waste materials.
    A lot of 8 foot boards are 8 foot plus .25 to .5 inches, so you may actually be able to get two 4 foot pieces. Also, make a few narrow spacers because once the humidity in the hive increases, the top bars are going to swell a little, plus warp slightly, so all 30 bars or whatever isn't going to fit perfectly and you will need something to fill the gap

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Hardin Cty, KY, USA
    Posts
    112

    Default Re: 3 Foot or 4 Foot

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonERD View Post
    A lot of 8 foot boards are 8 foot plus .25 to .5 inches, so you may actually be able to get two 4 foot pieces. Also, make a few narrow spacers because once the humidity in the hive increases, the top bars are going to swell a little, plus warp slightly, so all 30 bars or whatever isn't going to fit perfectly and you will need something to fill the gap
    I wish the load of lumber I just bought was like that everything is 8 foot on the money. Its worth checking before you buy.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Casper, Wyoming
    Posts
    154

    Default Re: 3 Foot or 4 Foot

    I have 4' and 5' wouldn't consider a 3', but I live in the cold.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Hardin Cty, KY, USA
    Posts
    112

    Default Re: 3 Foot or 4 Foot

    4 foot or 5 foot either way experiment with both and let us know the outcome. You will probably find they don't use the 5th foot.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Crivitz, WI
    Posts
    157

    Default Re: 3 Foot or 4 Foot

    Start longer, it is easier to cut them down than to make them longer. Mine are all 4 feet long.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,660

    Default Re: 3 Foot or 4 Foot

    4' for sure. When I ran a TBH the bees used all of 3' the first season.
    The actual "box" will be less than 4' if you make the roof 4' long.

    535713_385754671466771_306979161_n.jpg

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Wichita Kansas
    Posts
    71

    Default Re: 3 Foot or 4 Foot

    My first hive was 3 foot but they filled it up the first season. All of mine are now 4'. It makes more efficient use of the dimension lumber also.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Crivitz, WI
    Posts
    157

    Default Re: 3 Foot or 4 Foot

    For my roofs, I use a plastic panel that is sold as a ridge cap/skylight for metal pole buildings. The panels are 10 1/2 feet long by 2ft wide and run around 15.00 each. I cut them in half, cost about 7.50 each plus the patio pavers to hold them down. Simple, easy, and plenty of overhang. They can be cut to cover any sized hive from a Nuc to a 5 footer so would not be limiting to your build.

    TopBar47.jpg
    Last edited by Duncan151; 03-03-2014 at 06:55 AM. Reason: Double Picture

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,316

    Default Re: 3 Foot or 4 Foot

    > 3 foot? or 4 foot?

    The right question is: "4 foot or 5 foot?"
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Boulder, Colorado
    Posts
    59

    Default Re: 3 Foot or 4 Foot

    Kenny, I agree with most of the posters. I have a couple of 3 footers. They are okay but they are filled from end to end. If the bees get ahead of me like they did last year the last four bars (in both hives) have slightly curved comb, each crossing two bars with the rear most attached to the back wall. I had to work the hive from the front and removed several of the drawn bars to have access to cut side attachments and such. I left all 4 of those bars for winter feed, more probably spring feed or beekeeper spring harvest. If they are still there in a few more weeks I will harvest all 4 as groups. If the bees have emptied them, which I doubt they did, I will separate the combs to individual bars using the squish straightening method.
    With my "shorties" I find it necessary to pull several, usually 6 bars, to have enough room to get my hive tool in and cut out attachment comb or reach in for any "junk" that falls inside. In my case, I remove the drawn bars, brood if starting from the front or nectar/honey if starting from the rear and temporarily put those bars in a 7 frame nuc I built from scrap lumber. Its not a problem you just learn to work with what you have. For me, that's finding the balance between thumbs and frontal lobes. The fact that you are asking questions tells me you are using the lobes!
    The other item to consider is the volume of the hives, more specifically the topbar length and hive height. Some of the plans I've seen have shallow cavities meaning you would probably want to be bigger in the other dimensions.
    My 2 cents.
    Fabian

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Kathleen, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: 3 Foot or 4 Foot

    Thanks to all. It looks like it will bee 4 foot.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,660

    Default Re: 3 Foot or 4 Foot

    Cool... good luck!

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