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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Clinton, Iowa
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    599

    Default Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Well, I'm not exactly sure what I was thinking, but when I set up the initial cavity for the new package in my TBH I put a few 1 1/2" honey bars in front of the follower. Then I put about 6-7 1 1/4" brood bars in front of that towards the entrance. I assumed that they would cluster somewhere in the middle and that the "honey bars" would be to the backside and wouldn't be used initially. Of course the bees are clustered on the three honey bars and a couple of brood bars.

    What's the ramifications of having the brood bars initially built on 1 1/2" bars? I think it's probably too late to sort this out now? Could I maybe slip a brood bar in between the honey bars and hope they cluster "backwards" onto that and try to move the honey bars out of the cluster that way by doing it every couple of days until the cluster is only on brood bars?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    363

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    I don't keep TB hives but if you start packages in the future I'd use all brood bars to start.

    In any case, let them get established then slowly work the honey bars to where you want them by adding new brood bars between the honey and brood bars.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,827

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Whatever they have built on I would leave. Whatever they have not built on, I would pull out and replace with the 1 1/4" bars.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Clinton, Iowa
    Posts
    599

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Whatever they have built on I would leave. Whatever they have not built on, I would pull out and replace with the 1 1/4" bars.
    Would you do that even it it meant breaking the cluster/festooning mass and shaking them off to the bottom of the hive? There is such a tight pack of bees it is tough to tell if there is comb underneath all that mass.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,827

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    If they are in a big festoon, most of the bees are attached to other bees that are attached to other bars. You won't have that many to shake off.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Clinton, Iowa
    Posts
    599

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    If they are in a big festoon, most of the bees are attached to other bees that are attached to other bars. You won't have that many to shake off.
    Ok, I understand what you're saying now.

    Thanks for the input all!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,468

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    If you are going to use wide bars you would not want them in until they started pulling wider comb, but that wont be for some time. I think a better way is just to continue to expand the brood nest until they stop putting brood in the bars at the end and back filling those combs will honey. If they are still making comb at that time it is likely that they are making comb for honey stores.

    The upside to expanding the brood nest is two fold. The first is the comb will be consistent with the comb around it, and the second is by keeping it open you lessen the chance of a swarm. First year bees can and do swarm.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Posts
    58

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Quote Originally Posted by jwcarlson View Post
    Would you do that even it it meant breaking the cluster/festooning mass and shaking them off to the bottom of the hive? There is such a tight pack of bees it is tough to tell if there is comb underneath all that mass.
    If you're having trouble seeing if comb is being built in a festooning cluster a judicious puff of smoke should be enough to clear the bar to make it visible without shaking the bar off.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    95

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    I run only 1-1/2 inch bars and they seem to work fine. I wouldn't worry about it.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Bethesda,MD, USA
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Ditto the General's comment.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    United States
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    95

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Regarding the location of the cluster you can just slide the bars forward with festooning bees attached. We did this two days ago with the fellow that I am mentoring. We direct released two queens in his hives three days earlier. One clustered at the front, one at the back. For the one that began at the back we just removed the front bars, slid the back bars (5 of them) forward as a group, refilled the feeder and moved it forward to the back of the cluster and closed the hive up. Checked it today, all good.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    longton, kansas USA
    Posts
    596

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    i know this is probably against the grain and fundamentals of the rules of TBH's but, we have a few top bar hives and we use all 1 1/2 bars. we never used any spacers or thinner bars and in our case,it hasnt been a problem. i understand that generally bees build wider (or we want them to ) honey combs. i guess we are strange because we run 9 frames in our honey supers on our langs hahahaha.

    i would definitely ( if ur worried about the bar width) let them get established on those 2 bars with some capped brood then instert the thinner bars accordingly. letem be bees

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,468

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Glad to hear that is working for you Tommy. I've heard many people mention using 1.5 inch bars in brood and some using 1 3/8 for everything. Whatever works best for you is the best way to go. But I think that some folks when they start are under the impression that if you use a wide bar they will use it for stores and a narrow bar will be used for brood. The bees will do what the bees want to do with those bars.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Clinton, Iowa
    Posts
    599

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Swapped them to 1.25" bars so all they have is 1.25" where they can get to it in front of the follower. Very little wax on the bars. One had about a half a pencil eraser sized spot hanging off of the triangle. The others had some specs on a few places on the bars. Hope I didn't disturb too much... and hope they get to building comb soon. Its been a week... now I'm worried they are queenless or something. Will they build comb without a queen?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Canada BC Delta
    Posts
    421

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Are they taking syrup?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Clinton, Iowa
    Posts
    599

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    A little, but not a ton. They finally cleaned out their dead between Wednesday and Friday. they have taken maybe a quart of syrup since last Saturday. I saw and suspected robbing, put up a screen and really choked down entrance for a few days. Haven't noticed it since.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
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    1,468

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Is it too cold? It is nice here (finally) but it may just bee too cold were you are.
    Good move on closing down the entrance. I've seen an amazing amount of bees move in and out of a hive in a building were the opening was hardly big enough for two bees.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Canada BC Delta
    Posts
    421

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    they have taken maybe a quart of syrup since last Saturday.
    That's a little less than I would expect. 1.5 to 2 quarts a week would be closer to what I would expect depending on the package size. I would say something is not right if they haven't built any comb. Should have at least a few good size combs by now.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Clinton, Iowa
    Posts
    599

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Been in 50s and 60s for 4-5 days couple days above 70. After tonights rain we are back to highs of 40s. Zip code 52733 if you care to look.

    And someone else on another thread said that they'll draw comb in the 40s? Is this true?

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Clinton, Iowa
    Posts
    599

    Default Re: Clustering/Festooning on "honey bars"

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Clemens View Post
    You'd need an awfully large cluster of queenless bees to get any comb built, if then. But with a good queen, it's amazing how small of a cluster can still build comb. If they were my bees, I'd strongly suspect that they were queenless - do whatever I could to verify my suspicions, then correct it, ASAP.

    How would an individual find the queen in a cluster of bees? Shake them off into the bottom of the hive and look closely? Are there other behaviors I can key in on for them being possibly queenless?

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