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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Chester, PA, USA
    Posts
    53

    Default How to get Virgin Honey Comb

    I'm looking for advice on how to get the beautiful virgin honey comb, nice and capped.

    (I'm fairly new at this)

    Started with Golden Mean plans. Too short (like you haven't heard that enough).

    Built 4' hives. Queen still gets all the back to lay brood. Not huge amounts, but some. I tried to force an empty bar, then a bar of almost all honey, but that doesn't seem to bother her. It also seems like they never want to cap more than 50% of the bar which is no good getting some good comb honey.

    I want to ask now, because it's starting to warm up and it won't be much longer til the bees start bringing stuff in. I figure now might be the time to try out suggestions from those with who know better.

    On a side not, this is not for the purpose of sale. Just for experience and my own personal enjoyment.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Madisonville,TN
    Posts
    190

    Default Re: How to get Virgin Honey Comb

    Ennui
    Wyatt Mangum's s book has plans for a queen excluder for top bars. The book is a great read for anyone interested in top bar hives.
    16 y, 30 hives ULBN, treat when needed.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Chester, PA, USA
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: How to get Virgin Honey Comb

    I've visited Wyatt Mangum's site and read about the book. I plan on picking it up, but haven't yet. I did see he used excluders and 5' hives.

    I've thought about an excluder since that's what it's designed for, but I'd prefer not to use one. They don't seem very popular in TBH and there are plenty of people who get virgin honey comb without one. I don't need all or even most of my to be comb honey. I'd be happy with a couple bars per year.

    If I fail for a couple more years, I'll probably try an excluder at the far end to prevent her from getting to the last 1-2 combs, but I'm not quite there yet.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Boulder, Colorado
    Posts
    56

    Default Re: How to get Virgin Honey Comb

    Does this mean you have a massive brood nest? Or just plenty of bars with partial brood?
    I have a couple of top bar hives, two similar but different personal designs each using 18 inch bars. I can fit 26 bars in each hive. Both hives have bottom entrances on one end. My brood nests are more typical, to what I read, in that they have 1-2 pollen bars at the front, south side, followed by 12-14 bars of brood nest. The back edge of the brood nest is mostly drone comb then the rest is clean, somewhat wild shaped nectar/honey.
    I when the bees were initially building comb did add empty bars into the brood nest to encourage an open brood nest and straight comb.
    When our suburban flow happened(s) about July the rest of the hive filled really fast. I actually worried that they would run out of room. They had about 12 bars of unsealed nectar in really soft new comb. They might have made lots more honey if I did have more space. Anyway it would be interesting to understand how nectar flow is effecting your brood nest shape.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Chester, PA, USA
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: How to get Virgin Honey Comb

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenride View Post
    Does this mean you have a massive brood nest? Or just plenty of bars with partial brood?
    Not massive, just plenty of bars. 4', bottom entrance on one end and 19" bars (internal building length more like 17"). The front of the hives seem typical. Front comb is stunted on end side, then several bars with an arc of nectar/honey at the top, pollen below that and the bottom 60-70% or so brood. After a half dozen bars or so the brood area on each successive bar shrinks. I once read it described as a cone of brood extending through the hive, big at the front and tapering down to nothing at the back an that pretty much describes what I see.

    For management, I do the typical brood nest expansion of putting empty bars in, which of course pushes old brood comb out the back to get filled with honey. These combs I've try to use for splits or moving to bait hives (after being emptied as winter feed). But I realized if I add in 4 empty bars(for example) to expand the brood nest each year to prevent the queen from getting honey bound, I'll most likely have 4 old brood combs filled with honey come the end of the year. I'm fine with that, but that should still leave me over a half dozen bars before the end of the hive. Since I'm I'm doing crush and strain, most of those combs are new.

    I read how the queen often won't go by a full comb of honey, but they almost never get packed with nectar to the very bottom so she runs along the bottom of the combs laying eggs.

    Greenride, I'm in the same spot as your for space. It seems like the hive gets filled with nectar and as they evaporate the water out, they just keep filling it with more nectar and most of it doesn't get capped till a couple weeks after the flow stops. The result is, I can't just take a few combs to create some space like I commonly hear.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: How to get Virgin Honey Comb

    That is interesting. Mine have a definite end to the nest and then all honey combs. I insert my new bars in between the last brood bar and the first all honey bar. For most of the season one refused to cap the end honey bar, just kept adding to it until it was about 3" thick. It finally failed in the midline and I harvested it to get it out of the hive. In the fall they backfilled almost all of the broodcombs.

    What type of bees do you have?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Boulder, Colorado
    Posts
    56

    Default Re: How to get Virgin Honey Comb

    My top bar hives are similar to Colleen's in that there is a definite end to the brood next (the drone comb).
    Ennui, I spoke with another topbar beekeeper at the last local meeting. He supered with a medium deep box last year and his bees filled that too. He keeps both Langstroth's and a topbar hive so he has the extra supers. I didn't ask if he was using an excluder. Matt above indicated that Dr. Magnum's book has plans for a topbar excluder if you don't have/want to get Langstroth equipment.
    I wonder if cutting any empty comb at the bottom of a mostly filled honey bar, even if you had to sacrifice a small amount of brood, would keep the queen on "her" side. I suppose you could treat the cutoff piece as a rescue comb, maybe just to the "her side" of the brood next to encourage the nurses to draw it down for more eggs.
    Just remembered, I do have completely open bottoms to my hives. I stapled 1/8" hardware fabric and have boards to close them up in the winter, but maybe that makes it a little drafty so they have to cluster more. Are you hives closed on the bottom?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Isle of Wight, VA
    Posts
    458

    Default Re: How to get Virgin Honey Comb

    I'm trying a super on my TBH this year. Super is actually too big. Should be 2 boxes for easier handling, but I don't have any Lang equipment to use as a template. I'm making the entrance between the super and the brood box. Entrance is where the super overhangs on one end by 3/8". And with the bottom box mostly closed off from the super above, I hope the queen will stay down in the brood box.

    IMG_1862_zps34b422a9.jpg

    IMG_1859_zps18996a3e.jpg

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Chester, PA, USA
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: How to get Virgin Honey Comb

    Quote Originally Posted by Colleen O. View Post
    What type of bees do you have?
    BeeWeaver, which they describe as "a hybrid of our very best All Star and Buckfast and BeeSMaRt colonies"

    I think I'll try putting double empty bars at the end of my brood nest (BBBBEE) instead of interspersing them in hopes the queen won't cross the gap, instead of my normal BBEBBE. Experimentation is part of the fun!

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenride View Post
    Are you hives closed on the bottom?
    Closed bottoms.

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

    Default Re: How to get Virgin Honey Comb

    I had a closed-off screen bottom on one, solid on the others. The one that had a screen I am rebuilding to my new size and with a solid bottom. I didn't like the screen. It didn't seem to affect the way they built but the only time I opened it was in the heat if the first summer.

    I had wondered if the type of bee you kept was why they were building their nest like that. (I think some maintain a larger brood nest than others.) Mine are Minnesota Hygienic X Missouri Mutt and Buckfast out of Canada. Do you have just one that builds like this?

    I was thinking if it were mine I might cut the brood portion off one comb leaving only capped honey and then insert an empty comb beside it on the broodnest side. For example |PBBBBBEHEE| No open cells = nowhere to lay, right?
    3rd yr - 1 KTBH & 4 KTBH nucs - TF - USDA Zn 6b

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