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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Labette Kansas USA
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Trying to Learn from an Unsuccessful First Year

    I am sure there are a lot of ways to manage a top bar hive, but I never let mine get full. When they have 7 combs of solid honey I take any more they make if it's not too late in the year. I would imagine a hive totally full of comb would be a swarm machine.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    WaKeeney, KS, USA
    Posts
    49

    Default Re: Trying to Learn from an Unsuccessful First Year

    My 1st 2 hive boxes hold 24 top bars each. This first year they both built comb out to 19 and 20 bars full leaving just a little working room. They both had 8 full capped bars of honey going into Nov. Out of the bits and pieces that got harvested during comb manipulation as I was trying to keep up, I took less than 5-6 pounds from them all year.(just enough to get the wife hooked on their yummy goodness.)

    I am stategizing my spring harvesting/hive split. I am thinking (here I go again) harvesting will be more a continuous gradual thing instead of a large harvest like with Langs(?). It wont bother me to leave them 3 or 4 full combs of honey reserves for the bees all the time.

    I didnt mean to confuse things, having 2 or 3 bar widths at the back of the hive sure makes access easier and maybe room for a feeder or other utility. One of my hives has A LOT of bees even now and it has me concerned that it is going to explode come spring. Mid August they filled all 20 bars with bees with a good size herd hanging out on the porch, but they never swarmed.
    0808161324a.jpg
    It was a lil scary pulling the very last bar and having a 1/4 comb on it and bees covering every internal surface. I never found a queen cell but they were probly considering their space requirements for the rest of the season.

    I am working on the 45" hive box that I want to split it into. Having the extra room for them and me should keep us both a little calmer. Also working on 2 nuc boxes for more slack space.

    I hope the bees (or anyone here) dont think that I squandered any of their lessons they gave me last year.

    When they put their hive mind to doing something there is no messing around.
    You guys are my mentors, so, please correct me !!
    1st year with bees. 2 Top Bar hives in my back yard. Zone 6a.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    west central Arkansas
    Posts
    764

    Default Re: Trying to Learn from an Unsuccessful First Year

    Quote Originally Posted by Delta 21 View Post
    My 1st 2 hive boxes hold 24 top bars each. This first year they both built comb out to 19 and 20 bars full leaving just a little working room. They both had 8 full capped bars of honey going into Nov. Out of the bits and pieces that got harvested during comb manipulation as I was trying to keep up, I took less than 5-6 pounds from them all year.(just enough to get the wife hooked on their yummy goodness.)

    I am stategizing my spring harvesting/hive split. I am thinking (here I go again) harvesting will be more a continuous gradual thing instead of a large harvest like with Langs(?). It wont bother me to leave them 3 or 4 full combs of honey reserves for the bees all the time.

    I didnt mean to confuse things, having 2 or 3 bar widths at the back of the hive sure makes access easier and maybe room for a feeder or other utility. One of my hives has A LOT of bees even now and it has me concerned that it is going to explode come spring. Mid August they filled all 20 bars with bees with a good size herd hanging out on the porch, but they never swarmed.
    0808161324a.jpg
    It was a lil scary pulling the very last bar and having a 1/4 comb on it and bees covering every internal surface. I never found a queen cell but they were probly considering their space requirements for the rest of the season.

    I am working on the 45" hive box that I want to split it into. Having the extra room for them and me should keep us both a little calmer. Also working on 2 nuc boxes for more slack space.

    I hope the bees (or anyone here) dont think that I squandered any of their lessons they gave me last year.

    When they put their hive mind to doing something there is no messing around.
    I have a couple of hives like this every year that are packed to the gills. You definitely want to keep an eye on them as soon as your weather warms. I had one such hive this past year that was 90% built going into Spring. Didn't catch them soon enough due to not having time to manage. They cast a prime swarm and 2 after swarms from me leaving all the swarm cells in. I could have easily turned that hive into 4 more. The amazing thing was, they still made more honey going into winter than a few of my other hives. Sounds like you've got a good plan together.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    denver colorado
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: Trying to Learn from an Unsuccessful First Year

    Quote Originally Posted by Labow View Post
    I did not add the swarm with the newspaper method. I was thinking about it, but the person I got the swarm from said it wasn’t necessary. I’ll definitely do the newspaper method if I have to deal with that again. !
    I suggest next time drop the swarm in to a nuc set on top of the main hive, let them grow for a week or so and drop all the bars in together..
    At that point you will know if the swarm has a laying queen (could be a virgin so you may have to wait a bit longer before calling the swarm queenless) and she will have a consolidated defense force to protect her till she gains acceptance.
    Alternately you could move a bar of eggs and brood over from the nuc and see what happens, or put the nuc queen and a another nuc so the swarm nuc draws cells and move a bar with cells over , crush out remaining cells and recombine the nucs, or break the swarm nuc up in to mating nucs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Labow View Post
    There was a question about me not adding bars after it was ⅔ full. What I meant was that I stopped adding bars into the brood nest, and just added them to the end as they were needed, until the hive was expanded the full length of the hive. !
    At that point you should not be adding bars, they should be there and the hive expandanded to full size. They need to see there is room to grow

    Quote Originally Posted by Labow View Post
    -Second hive vs nuc: I posted this write-up in another forum, and a lot of people also said to have a second hive, so I’ll be adding another for this year. Would people suggest leaving it empty in case I need to split hive #1? I know Ray said to fill both, but I was just curious what others thought? Because if I have two functioning hives, and then one looks like it’s going to swarm, then I can’t split that hive. I mean, hopefully I wont have a swarm this year, but…
    2nd hive and 2+ nucs! If you have the resources to stock both hives, do it if you had had a 2nd hive you could have moved a bar of eggs/brood over to the 1st and saved it.
    Nucs for KTBH are dirt cheap and or made from scraps . Make some… they are not just for increase they are a management tool.
    Pro tip #1-Cut an extra end/follower board and save it as a template so you can build matching hives down the road.
    I run 15 7/8” nucs, ie 16” minus saw kerf so I get 3 panels out of 4’ and 6 out of 8’ when breaking down sections of ply or OSB. With ” ply these gives me 10 full bars and a spacer, or drop in a division board feeder and have a 4 bar and 5 bar side by side. I find this a good size for stability, easy to move around, and is big enuf to hold a swarm for a week or 2.
    Nucs give you options and don’t take up much space in storage, you save 1 hive or make and overwinter 1 split and it has payed you back at least 20X its cost.

    Quote Originally Posted by Delta 21 View Post
    \. Im thinking the management should get a little easier then, letting the brood nest determine its own size and making sure that the ladies dont backfill too far with late season stores.
    Not nessacarly as they can still become honey bound.
    Queens like to lay in fresh wax, the older it gets the more contaminates it has, AND the stronger it becomes do to the cocoons. As such there are many that consider putting empty bars in the nest to give the queen fresh wax to lay in good management, this also pushes old combs toward the back witch are stronger less likely to collapse under the heavy honey load compared to soft fresh wax

    Quote Originally Posted by Labow View Post
    Can anyone speak to GWW's point that you may have to remove bars with comb, and put in empty bars, to allow the hive to continue building?
    Yes that is standard management, when you start running out of space you have 3 options, harvest, split, let them swarm. Some times that means several smaller harvests threw out the year. I know backyard lang Beeks who harvest 2x a year do to having a limited amount of supers.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    6,232

    Default Re: Trying to Learn from an Unsuccessful First Year

    I find the langs hive and management style suit me better. In a hurry I can just go grab another
    nuc box for a split when I see the QCs. The TBH is not that easy to manage though I have a 55 gal plastic
    barrel hive that can hold either the langs frames or the TBH bars too. That will be my last resort in case I run out
    of langs equipment. You have to do something when you see the QCs in progress.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    denver colorado
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: Trying to Learn from an Unsuccessful First Year

    Quote Originally Posted by beepro View Post
    I find the langs hive and management style suit me better. In a hurry I can just go grab another nuc box for a split when I see the QCs. The TBH is not that easy to manage.
    I am not seeing a difference in management in your example. How is it easier to spit in to a lang nuc vs a ktbh nuc?

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    6,232

    Default Re: Trying to Learn from an Unsuccessful First Year

    For one the langs nuc is less bulky that I can move it around during the hive split time. For instant, I can move
    it to the out yard easier with a top and bottom screen on the langs nucs. It is lighter and does not break my back.
    I can manipulate the langs frames full of pollen to make the big fat QCs using pollen as the source of feed.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    denver colorado
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: Trying to Learn from an Unsuccessful First Year

    Interesting, maby its the way you have set up your equipment?

    To compare apples to apples, my 5 bar KTBH nucs have the comb volume equivalent of 4.4 deep frames and are 8.5" wide 15.5" long and 10.5" tall. They are in fact less bulky and weigh less then a five frame lang nuc.
    I can think of a lot of advantages to langs, but making splits in to single nucs are at least a tie in my book

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Canada BC Delta
    Posts
    507

    Default Re: Trying to Learn from an Unsuccessful First Year

    You should have two hives, four would be better. From your last years TBH you can use the combs to your advantage by using some to start your new hive. Hold back three or four worker combs for the empty hive. If possible, just before you see swarm preparation in the active hive as well as being very strong in bees and brood, move the queen and one bar of open brood to the inactive hive. The bar of brood should be placed between the reserved worker comb. The combs can be pushed together or alternate with blank bars. This hive gets put in the location were the original active hive was and the original moved several feet to the right or left of the newly established that holds the old queen. Your options become, you can produce a new queen for various purposes, you have some drawn storage comb to feed into the newly established colony with the old queen for honey storage. You have a supply of extra forger bees from the original hive with the new queen which can be encouraged to enter the old queens hive by moving the new queens hive to the opposite side of the old queens hive. In the end you can recombine one to the other leaving you extra comb for the next year that you will fine helps very much in managing swarming and honey production. Your location will dictate the proper timing.

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    30

    Default Re: Trying to Learn from an Unsuccessful First Year

    Great discussion everyone.

    Thanks for all of the responses. I read through them and they all make sense. I have a busy week so I'm going to come back to this later in the week, but I wanted to respond and thank everyone for the information.

    Happy New Year!

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