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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Newnan, Georgia
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    4

    Default A question about top bar starter strips

    When the bees start building comb from foundation starter strips in a top bar hive, do they change the cell size to their liking, or do they feel they continue building the cells the same size of the starter strip?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,554

    Default Re: A question about top bar starter strips

    They will adjust, but why mislead them to start with? Wood strips are more durable and you won't have to do them more than once. If you really want wax (I don't) you can make wax sheets very easily. Soak a board in brine and dip in wax. Peel off the sheets (you'll get two sheets, one from each side, and two strips, one from each edge). The sheets can be cut with a pizza cutter or one of those rotary cloth cutters used by quilters...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Canada BC Delta
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    447

    Default Re: A question about top bar starter strips

    My experience is they start building on the bottom edge of the foundation starter strips and build out from there. They build the cells the size they want even on the few rows of impressions of the foundation.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Newnan, Georgia
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: A question about top bar starter strips

    [QUOTE=Michael Bush;1086658]They will adjust, but why mislead them to start with? Wood strips are more durable and you won't have to do them more than once./QUOTE]

    I was looking at Dr. Magnum's website videos and observed that he uses wax starter strips. My preference is to use wood strips also. I was just curious about how the bees would build on the wax starter strips. Thank you everyone for your most helpful replies.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    London, United Kingdom
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    204

    Default Re: A question about top bar starter strips

    I do prefer using wood strips as they last better and I worry that the foundation join to the topbar is a weak link. But to answer your question they will transition their cell cell down the comb.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
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    1,517

    Default Re: A question about top bar starter strips

    I make wedge bars, but wood strips are fine. I saw the way Wyatt did his bars and it seemed like too much work to me. Plus I know how I am and I figured that I would end up dropping the bars and the starter strips would snap off.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
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    1,383

    Default Re: A question about top bar starter strips

    Watched a video where a person clamps a piece of cotton butcher string taught along the flat bar. He then uses a soldering iron and piece of bees wax to apply melted bees wax to the string..it holds the strong to the bar and the string raises the wax a bit. Was a quick and easy process and he says it works great to get bees drawing straight combs...no wedge, no foundation no fancy saw work...sounds good.
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Roanoke, VA
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    1,517

    Default Re: A question about top bar starter strips

    Yes, I think McCartney Taylor does that. I would rather make wedges. I think it was Sam Comfort that said the bees pull the strings off the bars.

    The wax "trail" is only marginally better than nothing. Some bees make great comb with no guide, it is the luck of the draw.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Madisonville,TN
    Posts
    203

    Default Re: A question about top bar starter strips

    I started out with foundation strips. They were always breaking off if I moved empty hives, which made it difficult for customers when they bought one of my hives. Now I use the beveled edge, and love it! I just toss the bars in the bottom of an empty hive if moving or selling it. The bees draw it out just fine, it is cheaper, and I can advertise "true natural comb."
    16 y, 30 hives ULBN, treat when needed.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Canada BC Delta
    Posts
    447

    Default Re: A question about top bar starter strips

    Yes, I think McCartney Taylor does that. I would rather make wedges. I think it was Sam Comfort that said the bees pull the strings off the bars.
    McCartney says the same thing and I believe no longer recommends it.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Whitla Ab. Canada
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    473

    Default Re: A question about top bar starter strips

    Quote Originally Posted by WBVC View Post
    Watched a video where a person clamps a piece of cotton butcher string taught along the flat bar. He then uses a soldering iron and piece of bees wax to apply melted bees wax to the string..it holds the strong to the bar and the string raises the wax a bit. Was a quick and easy process and he says it works great to get bees drawing straight combs...no wedge, no foundation no fancy saw work...sounds good.
    I use this method and I don't have any problems. I lay 6 top bars end to end and staple the string on one end, stretch it over the 6 bars, draw it a little taught and staple the other end. Then take a soldering iron and drizzle a good coating of wax over the string, leaving 1" wax free on the end of each bar. I then take a box cutter and cut the string on the end of each bar right at the end of the wax so no piece of string is hanging out for the bees to start chewing on. I've used wood strips, Popsicle sticks and wedged bars, this wax drizzle idea of Macartney's is what I prefer.
    Colino
    But every sunday afternoon he is a dirt track demon
    In a '57 chevrolet- Jim Croce

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Victoria, Texas, USA
    Posts
    171

    Default Re: A question about top bar starter strips

    I tried the string method with horrible results. I now cut a kerf down the middle of the bar with a table saw, but start and end the kerf about 3" from each end to not leave an access point for small hive beetles. I then glue popsicle sticks in the grove and wax them with a soldering iron. That has eliminated collapsing combs from the south Texas heat, and they draw comb right down the sticks. I use the same bars in my swarm traps. Makes transferring bees and bars into a hive very easy, and i can set the trap again the same night with new bars.
    TxBeek. KTBHs. Victoria, Tx. along the Gulf coast. Zone 9b.
    Treatment free bees from traps and cutouts.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Easthampton, Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: A question about top bar starter strips

    I was thinking of starting my package bees on large pieces of 4.9 foundation strips, just in the brood area, say first five bars to get them started towards small cell regression that much faster (say about five inches of depth, most of the width apart). The rest I would leave as triangle wedged bars, no wax at all....Would that be ok, or do we think the bees would just jump to bar 6 to start fresh? I am also a little worried about them getting a good start as my Georgia package has been pushed back to mid/late may delivery (via Better Bee...weather down south). Glad I found this thread!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
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    Default Re: A question about top bar starter strips

    You will get natural comb, but regression is about taking large cell bees and putting them on small cell foundation. In your case there really won't be any regression per se, since you will only have a few rows of cells.

    As soon as they get below the strips the cell size will be what it will be. Large, small, tiny, huge, whatever. Bees normally will have some honey stored in the top of the bars, so my guess is that most of the cells drawn from the starter strips will be honey storage anyway.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Whitla Ab. Canada
    Posts
    473

    Default Re: A question about top bar starter strips

    Quote Originally Posted by txbeek View Post
    I tried the string method with horrible results. I now cut a kerf down the middle of the bar with a table saw, but start and end the kerf about 3" from each end to not leave an access point for small hive beetles. I then glue popsicle sticks in the grove and wax them with a soldering iron. That has eliminated collapsing combs from the south Texas heat, and they draw comb right down the sticks. I use the same bars in my swarm traps. Makes transferring bees and bars into a hive very easy, and i can set the trap again the same night with new bars.
    What kind of problems are you having? I see you're in Texas, is it because of the heat, are you leaving string exposed? I always make sure there is about an 1/8" of wax covering the string with no gaps and cut the ends with a sharp box cutter. We don't have the heat you folks experience so the bees wax stays quite hard for handling and transport.
    Colino
    But every sunday afternoon he is a dirt track demon
    In a '57 chevrolet- Jim Croce

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
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    1,517

    Default Re: A question about top bar starter strips

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt903 View Post
    I started out with foundation strips. They were always breaking off if I moved empty hives, which made it difficult for customers when they bought one of my hives. Now I use the beveled edge, and love it! I just toss the bars in the bottom of an empty hive if moving or selling it. The bees draw it out just fine, it is cheaper, and I can advertise "true natural comb."
    Matt, where are you located? I have an uncle in Marysville, TN. We get bacon and ham at Benton's sometime when we come to town, which I think it pretty close to Madisonville.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Easthampton, Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: A question about top bar starter strips

    Thanks Shannon. I was actually playing with idea of almost going full frame 4.9 foundation on the first five bars, so that all of the early brood would be small cell, kind of forcing the issue...



    Quote Originally Posted by shannonswyatt View Post
    You will get natural comb, but regression is about taking large cell bees and putting them on small cell foundation. In your case there really won't be any regression per se, since you will only have a few rows of cells.

    As soon as they get below the strips the cell size will be what it will be. Large, small, tiny, huge, whatever. Bees normally will have some honey stored in the top of the bars, so my guess is that most of the cells drawn from the starter strips will be honey storage anyway.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,554

    Default Re: A question about top bar starter strips

    The worst guide is none.
    The next worse guide is probably the waxed string.
    The next worse guide is probably the waxed groove.
    These are all pretty much equivalent to none.
    Everything else is pretty good with these from my least to most preferred:
    Strip of foundation.
    Strip of plain unembossed wax.
    Strip of wood.
    Beveled guide (either cut into the bar or a chamfer molding added on).

    The Beveled guide seems to also stand up the best to being tipped one way or the other (not that I recommend it). I other words, not only do they follow it best, the attachment is the strongest.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
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    1,517

    Default Re: A question about top bar starter strips

    Michael, do you know of a source for unembossed wax? I was going to try some stuff this year if I can get some. I know that I could make some but I would have to pick up some stuff to make it the size of a deep. And I was wondering if it were possible to get it the size of a deep would it get all wrinkled?

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,554

    Default Re: A question about top bar starter strips

    >Michael, do you know of a source for unembossed wax?

    I have not seen any. Cut a board the size you want the sheets. Soak it in brine. Dip it in wax that is just hot enough to melt the wax. Repeat dipping if it's not thick enough. Peal it off the board (Cut the sides loose and the faces will come off).
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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