Need a simple frame design to convert TBH to horizontal framed hive
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  1. #1
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    Default Need a simple frame design to convert TBH to horizontal framed hive

    I love my Tanzanian Top Bar Hive...except the comb attachments. I faithfully cut the comb from the sides at each inspection, but it just makes the bees angry. I thought a solution might be to convert the top bars to simple frames using 3/8 or 1/2 dowels on the sides. A narrower frame bottom could be attached to the dowels in the same manner to ensure proper spacing is maintained.

    I prefer the full-width (1 1/4" and 1 1/2") top bars over standard deep frames because I don't want to cover the bars with a cloth due to the bee space. Anyone have experience with this type of frame? Any better ideas?
    Northern Baltimore County, MD

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Need a simple frame design to convert TBH to horizontal framed hive

    if you like working to topbar hive, but want frames, have you considered long langs?

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Need a simple frame design to convert TBH to horizontal framed hive

    Quote Originally Posted by Harley Craig View Post
    if you like working to topbar hive, but want frames, have you considered long langs?
    If I'm not mistaken the Lang frames have a bee space between them. I enjoy working the TBH because only a small portion of the nest is exposed at a time and the bees seem more relaxed. Plus, you don't need an inner cover. However, it would be nice to just buy the frames instead of making them.
    Northern Baltimore County, MD

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Need a simple frame design to convert TBH to horizontal framed hive

    You can make a long hive with multiple inner covers so you only pull off a section at a time. I would go with something like 5 frame nuc sized, but you could make them as small as you would like. Long hive is the way to go if you want frames and top bars.

    You could also just put side bars on your top bars, that would solve the problem and they won't attach the bottoms. I've seen a hive with a metal loop that formed the sides and the bottom "bar" and the bees would stop making comb at the wire.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Need a simple frame design to convert TBH to horizontal framed hive

    Quote Originally Posted by shannonswyatt View Post
    You can make a long hive with multiple inner covers ...You could also just put side bars on your top bars.
    Good suggestions...getting close to a solution but I'm still concerned about spacing. The side bars on Langs space the frames at 1 3/8". I've had good success following Michael Bush's advice on using 1 1/4" for brood and 1 1/2" for honey. I think this spacing will be critical in keeping combs straight since the frames will not contain foundation.
    Northern Baltimore County, MD

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Need a simple frame design to convert TBH to horizontal framed hive

    Quote Originally Posted by ally View Post
    Good suggestions...getting close to a solution but I'm still concerned about spacing. The side bars on Langs space the frames at 1 3/8". I've had good success following Michael Bush's advice on using 1 1/4" for brood and 1 1/2" for honey. I think this spacing will be critical in keeping combs straight since the frames will not contain foundation.
    You can shave them down to get them to 1 1/4".

    We currently have four top bar hives and four "matching" nucs, I think if we make any more they will be long langs capable of holding deep frames and giving us the ability to super if we decide we'd like to. I think that would be a nice... "best of both worlds" kind of deal. I have been in at least a couple of circumstances in my first year that it would be nice to have been able to call a local person and beg/buy/borrow a frame of brood from. Of course once we have a few established hives maybe that won't make much of a difference. But I think it'd be neat to be able to help other folks if they needed.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Need a simple frame design to convert TBH to horizontal framed hive

    Quote Originally Posted by jwcarlson View Post
    You can shave them down to get them to 1 1/4".
    Thanks for the ideas. Shaving down the side bars 1/16" on each side for the brood frames and adding a 1/8" spacer to the honey frames is possible, but this is starting to sound like a lot of work for a non-optimal solution. The gap between the top bars of the brood frames would now be 1/4", which is fine, but adding a 1/8" shim between the honey frames leaves either:
    1. a 3/16" gap on each side of the shim (if a full-length shim is used) that will be filled with a mess of propolis, or
    2. a 1/2" gap (if shimmed on just the ends) that will be filled with cross comb

    One of the nice things about full-sized top bars is that they fit tightly and propolis is kept to a minimum.
    Northern Baltimore County, MD

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Need a simple frame design to convert TBH to horizontal framed hive

    Quote Originally Posted by shannonswyatt View Post
    You could also just put side bars on your top bars, that would solve the problem and they won't attach the bottoms.
    How would these side bars be made? Are dowels sufficient?
    Northern Baltimore County, MD

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Need a simple frame design to convert TBH to horizontal framed hive

    I think dowels would be sufficient and easier than the next proposal. You could also cut a slit on the bottom of your topbars with a table saw and glue and nail 1/8 inch thick strips of wood of either 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 width to match the topbar width. On my partial frames the side wood is just slightly thicker than the slit cut by a table saw. I would make a slight wedge shape with sandpaper and hammer in the strip with the glue. Here is a picture of my semi-frames. They extend a little shy of halfway to the bottom of my hive.

    IMAG0223.jpg

    I am going to have to move the strips together a little closer to give the girls beespace between the strip and the walls of the hive. I am afraid that I have given unwanted guest a hiding space.
    Zone 6b; Elv.3,600 ft.(1,097m); AA Rain 20.36 in. (51.72 cm)

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Need a simple frame design to convert TBH to horizontal framed hive

    Quote Originally Posted by ally View Post
    How would these side bars be made? Are dowels sufficient?
    Out of A blue sky came up with this idea for cut out frames, although they didn't work too well for cut outs because of cutting triangle shaped comb, they might be useful with bee built combs.
    Colino
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  12. #11
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    Default Re: Need a simple frame design to convert TBH to horizontal framed hive

    I made three sided frames once by cutting sides similar to lang side bars, but you can purchase frame components from places like Walter Kelley and save yourself a lot of time.

    What has happened is that you have built yourself a frameless long hive and are now discovering why people use frames and inner covers on langs.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Need a simple frame design to convert TBH to horizontal framed hive

    Quote Originally Posted by Needo View Post
    I think dowels would be sufficient and easier than the next proposal. You could also cut a slit on the bottom of your topbars with a table saw and glue and nail 1/8 inch thick strips...
    I just came across research from Gilles Denis (France). He uses semi-frames (partial side walls) in his Warre hives.
    denis_half_frame.jpg

    Gareth John (UK) adapted this method to dowels, but the bees built comb around the dowels and still attached to the walls.
    dowel_semi-frame.jpg

    The semi-frame may alleviate one concern I had that full-length frame walls without a base would warp or otherwise not stay parallel to the hive walls. This approach may be worth trying since it is a simple modification to regular top bars.
    Northern Baltimore County, MD

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Need a simple frame design to convert TBH to horizontal framed hive

    Quote Originally Posted by ally View Post
    I love my Tanzanian Top Bar Hive...except the comb attachments. I faithfully cut the comb from the sides at each inspection, but it just makes the bees angry. I thought a solution might be to convert the top bars to simple frames using 3/8 or 1/2 dowels on the sides. A narrower frame bottom could be attached to the dowels in the same manner to ensure proper spacing is maintained.

    I prefer the full-width (1 1/4" and 1 1/2") top bars over standard deep frames because I don't want to cover the bars with a cloth due to the bee space. Anyone have experience with this type of frame? Any better ideas?
    How much attachment do you get, and what are you cutting it with? I have a much different experience with mine. I think that you are going to end up making a simple bee hive, much harder to build and maintain. If you want the frames I would go with the long lang, buy or build frames and be done with it. If you like to tinker though, tinker away.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Need a simple frame design to convert TBH to horizontal framed hive

    you wont have any issue with normal lang spacing in the brood nest, a lot of people run normal spaced lang frames in the brood nest. if you want wider spacing in the honey section, just space them further apart. They make spacing tools that make it easy, but I generally just eyeball it.

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