Top Bar Hive as a Beginner
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  1. #1
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    Question Top Bar Hive as a Beginner

    Hi all,

    I just had a class about top bar hives and this got me excited about TBHs. I'm starting with two hives this season and now I'm wondering whether I should get one TBH and one Lang. Or should I just go with 2 Langs to gain some experience before keeping bees in TBHs? What would you recommend?

    Thank you.
    “The bee's life is like a magic well: the more you draw from it, the more it fills with water” ― Karl Von Frisch

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  3. #2
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    Dec 2011
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    Default Re: Top Bar Hive as a Beginner

    I reckon that a Long Lang is the best of both worlds.

    You can put supers on it and use foundationless frames or even just bars for natural comb.

    I recommend one that is 3 boxes wide.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Top Bar Hive as a Beginner

    Matt,

    Thanks for the prompt answer.

    This is so typical of beekeeping . Since I've been learning about beekeeping, the only thing I've been certain is that there's always one more way of doing anything . I'm googling "long lang" right now.
    “The bee's life is like a magic well: the more you draw from it, the more it fills with water” ― Karl Von Frisch

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Top Bar Hive as a Beginner

    Here's a link showing my latest one: https://www.beesource.com/forums/show...07-3x-Longhive

    The only issue is I have to use a sheet of plastic (clear flexible PVC) on the roof to waterproof it. Weighted down with bricks. Not so pretty, but does the job.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Top Bar Hive as a Beginner

    I have only ever kept top bar hives and didn't have any problem "learning" with them. You want 2 hives to begin with so you have interchangeable parts between the hives. Having one topbar and one lang or one long hive, doesn't allow for that.

    You should understand what you want to get out of beekeeping before you decide what type of hive you want. Management styles differ quite a bit from a top bar to a Lang. A long hive leans more toward Lang style of management.

    I have a couple of topbar nucs overwintering in Lang equipment (my bars are the same length of a Lang which is a real plus). I do not like working the bees in these two boxes. They tend to be on the feistier side, even though they are smaller colonies. If all Lang colonies are like this, I would not enjoy my bees as much as I do. Plus, I really like the observation window in a top bar hive. Nothing like being able to check on the bees in the dead of winter without opening the box.

  7. #6
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    Jul 2014
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    Default Re: Top Bar Hive as a Beginner

    Learner,

    It really depends on what you want to do. I started this year with the best intentions of giving the bees a place to stay and keeping an eye on them. I started with a Warre' hive and I love it, top bar, fixed combs, and no foundation. BUT after a summer of reading, learning, and deciding on a different direction. I'm going to raise my own queens this summer and need to have the flexibility of the Langstroth hive, I'm also going to use plastic foundations which I did not want to do but for the system I'm going to use it works out better.

    I learned a lot with the top bar hive and I will be keeping a few of them but I intend to put my growth behind the Langstroth hive.
    zone 5b
    Back in 2019!

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Top Bar Hive as a Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by thehackleguy View Post
    Learner,

    It really depends on what you want to do. I started this year with the best intentions of giving the bees a place to stay and keeping an eye on them. I started with a Warre' hive and I love it, top bar, fixed combs, and no foundation. BUT after a summer of reading, learning, and deciding on a different direction. I'm going to raise my own queens this summer and need to have the flexibility of the Langstroth hive, I'm also going to use plastic foundations which I did not want to do but for the system I'm going to use it works out better.

    I learned a lot with the top bar hive and I will be keeping a few of them but I intend to put my growth behind the Langstroth hive.
    Have you tried raising queens with your Warre hive? It's super easy to just remove the queen to a nuc and the bees will turn lots of newly hatched larvae into queen cells. Once they are capped, you can cut them out with a razor blade and put them in whatever hive you want. I did this with my topbar hive a couple of times last year to get an increase. Only "problem" I had were too many capped queen cells and not enough drawn comb and workers to make lots of splits. My local bee club benefited from my problem, as I was able to give away the capped cells.

    Some books will say that the bees pick the wrong age larvae to make into queen, but that isn't the case if they have new comb and fresh eggs/newly hatched larvae to chose from. They also say that emergency queens are not good queens, but as long as the bees are in a robust colony and can rework new comb (vs old brood comb), these cells turn out nice and big.

    I will intentionally slip in partially drawn bars of new comb into the brood nest a few days prior to my pulling the queen and she will lay them up with new eggs. And when I pull her, these are the bars that get the queen cells drawn on them. (and in large quantities too)

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Top Bar Hive as a Beginner

    Just from what I've read here on BS I would avoid a TBH, they seem to abscond more, lower winter survival, Split winter clusters...

  10. #9
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    Oct 2014
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    lebanon, OH, USA
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    Default Re: Top Bar Hive as a Beginner

    i'll be doing first bees this spring w/ 2 tbh. will let ya know next year how it went

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Top Bar Hive as a Beginner

    TBH vs Lang is much like Knife & fork vs Chopsticks. Some do better than others with the device.

    A Top bar does require you to be in the hive more (especially initially), get a good straight piece of comb and good comb follows when you have good comb getting built they are a pleasure to work; don't look for a month, let it get cross combed and it's misery. They are great for pollination and people who want a little honey. My wife finds them much more pleasurable to work, I prefer langs for my outyards and honey production.

    I would recommend getting 2 hives of the same style hive and eliminating as many variables as possible, how well a colony builds and survives has much more to do about the colony and the beekeeper than the box.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Top Bar Hive as a Beginner

    i was born to knife & fork, but am also accomplished with chopsticks.
    plunging ahead with my tbh

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Top Bar Hive as a Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by Learner View Post
    Hi all,

    I just had a class about top bar hives and this got me excited about TBHs. I'm starting with two hives this season and now I'm wondering whether I should get one TBH and one Lang. Or should I just go with 2 Langs to gain some experience before keeping bees in TBHs? What would you recommend?

    Thank you.
    Lack of experience is what stopped me from starting with them and not finding anyone local to help me. So if there are people in your area that can help you in case you run into problems,that would be a big help.

    I have two TBH and have not used them yet mainly because my mentor never used one,We are thinking of trying them out this year though.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Top Bar Hive as a Beginner

    I guess I must have a different kind of personality. No, there was no one to mentor me with my first beehive, which happened to be a topbar. In fact, I was shunned by the local clubs for wanting to do one. The guy who made a nuc for my hive still laughs in my face at the meetings and says "oh yeah, you are the topbar girl". Old ways die hard with these seasoned beekeepers.

    I forged on anyhow with Beesource and every topbar book I could get (3) and a couple of general beekeeping books (Michael Bush's being one of them). Experience is a great teacher. I started after the spring flow and with only one hive. In it each weekend to see what was going on and taking lots of pictures to review later. I guess now-a-day every beeclub is repeating the mantra "you have to work with someone else's bees for a year and have a mentor before you are allowed to try raising your own bees." Well, without other topbar mentors, that can become very difficult for newbees to get started.

    It still all boils down to keeping bees in a box, so the mentor should be able to give you guidance in how to do that even if they don't have personal experience with a topbar. I'm hopeful that more local clubs will recognize the growing trend and begin to incorporate topbars into their beginner classes as just one option for keeping bees.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Top Bar Hive as a Beginner

    I ran both. The tbh and the lang for the first season. Second season I traded the TBH for two complete (frames too) langs.

    My only TBH that I built and traded.
    535713_385754671466771_306979161_n.jpg

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Top Bar Hive as a Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    I guess now-a-day every beeclub is repeating the mantra "you have to work with someone else's bees for a year and have a mentor before you are allowed to try raising your own bees."
    If I approached life like that I would never get anything done!
    zone 5b
    Back in 2019!

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Top Bar Hive as a Beginner

    The problem with one of each is you have no interchangeability and that limits your options if you have problems. I would do two of the same kind. The other problem is you think you will learn which one works better, but a colony does better or worse, "just because" and not because of the box they are in.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Top Bar Hive as a Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by FlowerPlanter View Post
    Just from what I've read here on BS I would avoid a TBH, they seem to abscond more, lower winter survival, Split winter clusters...

    Do wintering nucs have a lower winter survival than TBHs???

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Top Bar Hive as a Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    Have you tried raising queens with your Warre hive?
    I have not but I'm going to. I do like the Warre' and will keep a few but for the intense management I'm planning on doing the Langs will serve me better for my expansion plans.

    I'm in no-way trying to dissuade you from top bar.....just giving you an example of reasons why you might choose otherwise.

    I also agree with MB and Chuck, two of the same are better than one of each.
    zone 5b
    Back in 2019!

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Top Bar Hive as a Beginner

    >TBH vs Lang is much like Knife & fork vs Chopsticks.

    Good comparison. And every one knows that any 3 year old Chinese kid can run chopsticks just fine.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Top Bar Hive as a Beginner

    I started with both. I really like my TBHs though I was glad I only started with only two because I have "evolved" my design a bit. My TBHs required more time and energy but I learned the most from them. I really enjoyed having an observation window and could learn and watch without interrupting what was taking place in the hive. It also allowed me to keep an eye on comb building and quickly correct if going off center without having to do an open hive inspection each time. The Langs were easier and required less management but I get more enjoyment out of my Top Bar Hives. Also love the comb honey.

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