How To Split A Top Bar Hive Into A Langstroth
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    santa ynez, ca

    Default How To Split A Top Bar Hive Into A Langstroth

    I am fairly new to this. I have 2 top bar hives, one just split on its own last week and left. I checked my other one and I see queen cells. I do not want to lose half of these bees too as I have an empty Langstroth I would like to put them in. I have also one other langstroth that I just added a honey super to. all of these hives are from swarms I caught this year. Can someone please help me with directions on the best possible way to do this split into a langstroth from top bar.
    I have taken comb and rubber banded it into the langstroth frames before from a hive I got from a BBQ. I hate to do that to this comb incase they do not stay etc. I have read about people attaching another board to the top bar with a zip tie so it will fit. It seems then that makes the comb drop down even more which I would lose. OR if someone has a better idea of how I should proceed I am open to it. I really do not want to lose these bees. If I took out some of the honeycomb in the top bar hive and gave them a little more room do you think they will still leave since I saw the queen cells? They have room to build out 4 or 5 more frames, they have started on two of them. Again I have never done this, I have read so many different things it gets overwhelming. I just want to do what is best.


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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Rosebud Missouri

    Default Re: How To Split A Top Bar Hive Into A Langstroth

    I am pretty new but can you find your queen. If so you could do a nurse bee split or teronove split. You could do the teronov split with out finding the queen and you would most likily get her where you want her while shaking the bees. As long as you get the queen, you can put them in an empty hive and let them draw out the frames. You would have to feed if you keep them in the same yard cause you will only have young bees in the split and so no foragers for a little while.

    If you have a place to take the bees a few miles away for awhile, you could just make a package by shaking a whole bunch of young and old bees. Again you would need to move the queen with the split cause with out comb, they would have no way to make one.

    If you can move the top bar. You could move it back and side ways ten or more feet and let the old bees go back to the lang that you sit where the top bar was moved from. You would need to put the queen with the bees that were flying back. These old bees would give you plenty of foragers and you might get by with out feeding but just a little bit to get a little comb drawn for the queen to lay in though I bet you could get by with out feeding at all.

    You may wish to wait for more experiance advice then me. I did do some of these things I am telling you about once and had good luck and so don't think I am totally wrong though I used queen cells cause I did it with hives that had already decided to swarm on there own.
    Good luck

    Ps You may need to be careful shaking your comb. I am foundationless and if there is much honey in the combs making them heavy, I have broke some and I have broke brood comb in hot wether and by being rough. I liked the hive that I moved and let the old bee fly back the best out of the splits I tried. I did feed the hive I moved because I knew all the foragers went back to the old location and there was a lot of brood. If you move the whole hive and set the lang where it is, you don't have to shake any comb. You do need to put the queen in the old place though. I would also cull the queen cells down to one or two in the old hive cause I didn't and one of mine swarmed two more times even though I had just split them.
    Last edited by gww; 09-07-2017 at 07:36 PM.
    zone 5b

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Sacramento, CA, USA

    Default Re: How To Split A Top Bar Hive Into A Langstroth

    At this late in the season, it is not advisable to make the transition from a TBH into a langs hive. Why? Because winter is approaching and the days for drawing comb had already ended over here. If it is still early in the year then yes, you can do it. Here is my advice until next season to make this change. With winter approaching next month, go ahead to make a split of the nuc TBH. Yes, you can make a nuc out of the TBH too. Do a search online for a nuc TBH design. Then try to overwinter them by feeding for the Autumn build up. If the new split cannot make a new mated queen because of fewer drones or queen lost in mating flight situation then recombine it to the original hive for overwintering. If you make the split stronger on the new hive location then your original hive location can have fewer bees inside. Why? Because all the foragers from the split hive will fly back to their original location over the next few days. Try to make the split so that both side have almost the same amount of bees after the split.
    Option #2 is quite possible being this late but you have to find the drawn langs frames to do it right. Try to get 5 of the drawn langs frames to put in a 5 frame nuc hive box. If you don't have a 5 frame nuc hive box then the empty space will need to be filled in somehow with the aluminum lined cut up foam boards and a hive follower board between them. Too much empty space will chill the broods during our rainy seasons. Then find the original queen and put her inside this nuc box on the frame. Finally gently brushed in the bees from your TBH. Depending on how many frame of bees you have, it is better to even out the bees on both hives. Don't forget to feed them both patty subs and syrup. Which option do you like to try?

    Drawn comb and nuc hive split:
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Geauga, Ohio

    Default Re: How To Split A Top Bar Hive Into A Langstroth

    nice thing about a tbh is that it can become a nuc lickety-split: just move the follower board to the desired size.

    I'm just going to clarify here - one hive absconded (it helps to reserved the word "split" for when intentionally creating another hive, usually by evenly splitting resources and often without knowing where the queen is). There is another, with a laying queen, and queen cells. There's a big difference between one that has already swarmed and one that is preparing to swarm. Neither will have eggs... queen slims down to prepare to fly.

    If you are seeing capped Queen Cells, odds are good that they already swarmed. If so, I would use both TBH's for a so-called "mating nuc". You'll want capped QCs in both, and a lot of nurse bees, and minimal needy open brood in the abandoned hive (no foragers bringing in da goods for those babies). I'd do that to guarrantee that you will have at least one laying queen come out of the deal. Virgin queen's don't always make it back, so it's best to plan for that.

    If you know you have a laying queen, as in you find her and there are NO queen cells cup open/hatched, then there is a way to prevent swarming - make them think they did. Move the queen into the empty TBH, with most of the capped brood. This brings a lot of nurse bees with too. They are harder to shake in with a TBH. For the hive with foragers coming in, leave them minimal stores and half the queen cells. Try to use the other side of the tbh - with capped brood only - and queen cells - to be another mating nuc, to ensure 1 mated queen in that tbh.

    One last thought - if this is a feral sourced queen, you may find they swarm earlier and more often and with very little crowding. And any daughters you get will end up with those genes. It's very adaptive for hives to survive varroa by swarming frequently. So that's the trait you can find with feral bees... There are ways to change the population of drones available, to fill it with drones from hives with desired traits, but it takes many hives and time.

    Oops! just re-read the title. I'm not seeing any call to transition to TBH if the goal is to get a laying queen from existing queen cells. Beepro makes a key point that the lang hive is not well suited to being partly filled with bees on drawn frames and with empty undrawn frames. But a trick that I am planning to use is to take metal panel fence, fold and cut it so it can hold comb INSIDE a langstroth foundationless frame. The bees will attach and fill out as needed - assuming a nectar flow, either from nature or from beekeeper. good luck...

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA

    Default Re: How To Split A Top Bar Hive Into A Langstroth

    I don't know your climate. You seem to be closet to LA. I don't know how much of a flow lays in the days ahead. But whenever I split a top bar hive into a Langstroth I just put most of the bees in the Langstroth along with the queen and let the field bees drift back and raise another queen in the top bar hive.
    Michael Bush "Everything works if you let it." 42y 40h 39yTF

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