Ignorant of top bars - isn't there northern limit at which it is a good idea?
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  1. #1
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    Default Ignorant of top bars - isn't there northern limit at which it is a good idea?

    Just to know,
    Isn't there a latitude point at which top bar hives will not work well? Winters up here in Maine can easily dip into -20s F (sometimes a good bit lower). With winds -35F - -40F (sometimes a bit lower) - and for a good while.

    I would think bees would easily die is our climate since movement must be horizontal and not up?

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Ignorant of top bars - isn't there northern limit at which it is a good idea?

    We get -27 F on occasion. My top bar hives have done fine. Dennis Murrel's top bar hives are in Casper WY. It gets -40 F on occasion. I have not seen any more losses in top bar hives from bees not getting to stores than I have in vertical hives when food gets left behind or the cluster contracts in a cold snap with brood anchoring them where they are. Horizontal hives are the traditional hives of Russia and Scandinavia. They have been used there for at least a thousand years in very cold climates.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm#winter
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Ignorant of top bars - isn't there northern limit at which it is a good idea?

    Some were there was a study with a fixed heat input (light bulb) showing topbars were a bit warmer then langs, but colder then styrofoam hives or trees

    Heat rises, so in a topbar they are not losing heat to dead space above them, put a chunk of foam on top of the bars to help hold it in

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Ignorant of top bars - isn't there northern limit at which it is a good idea?

    dubble
    Last edited by msl; 10-20-2017 at 09:54 AM.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Ignorant of top bars - isn't there northern limit at which it is a good idea?

    There are a few that keep topbar hives in ME and Canada. Goldstar Honeybees was located in ME. You might contact Christy to see how well her bees did. Some in Canada make the walls double thick.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Ignorant of top bars - isn't there northern limit at which it is a good idea?

    I started with 2 packages and am going into my second winter with 3 hives. I built my boxes double thick with 1" blue board on top and bottom.
    2nd year with bees. 3 Top Bar hives in my back yard.
    Zone 5b/6a. 'Crackpipe' OAV.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Ignorant of top bars - isn't there northern limit at which it is a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by Delta 21 View Post
    I started with 2 packages and am going into my second winter with 3 hives. I built my boxes double thick with 1" blue board on top and bottom.
    Nowhere near that cold hear, but I'm building mine with 2x lumber just to not have to worry about it. Don't have to lift boxes so not a weight issue. Also providing natural wind break (plants).
    If the Lord delight in us, he will bring us into this land; a land which floweth with milk and honey

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Ignorant of top bars - isn't there northern limit at which it is a good idea?

    Would a Warrè hive be a better top bar choice for colder climates? I’m in zone 4, sometimes pushing hard on the cold edge of that. I’ve been advised that an hTBH may not be a smart way to go. What I’m wondering about though, is whether the Warrè wouldn’t be in constant danger of blowing over. I’d have to set it up high to keep the low entrance from being swamped in snow and I’m not sure how I would brace it with that factored in.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Ignorant of top bars - isn't there northern limit at which it is a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by CindyinSD View Post
    Would a Warrè hive be a better top bar choice for colder climates? I’m in zone 4,......
    IMO - yes.
    I am looking in that direction, but technically have no interest in the classic-Warre.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Ignorant of top bars - isn't there northern limit at which it is a good idea?

    I saw your YouTube link to the Russian hives but couldn’t get it to play beyond the first half minute. It is seldom I can watch a YouTube video. Our satellite internet isn’t as good as advertised. I’m interested in anything you might have to share, but I haven’t quite figured out the vocabulary yet so I might have eye-roll inducing questions...

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Ignorant of top bars - isn't there northern limit at which it is a good idea?

    I'm in zone 4 with an apiary at an altitude of 7,700 ft. I keep only top bars in my apiary and they do fine. In my mind, winter survival is more about the bees than the box that they are in. I think top bars have gotten a bad rap from winter survival due to bad package bees and queens from Costa Rica. As an example, genetics for winter survival will allow the bees to chew a hole through the middle of the comb in a horizontal hive so that the bees can pass as a cluster horizontally rather than passing the cold edges of the comb to move to new food stores. Going through my apiary now, my feral swarms have closed off over 1/2 of their entrances while my package bees are still trying to figure out how to do it themselves. For Lang equipment entrance closing and heavy propolis might be bad, but for my top bars this is a good sign. While I can't prove it, I think that horizontal hives can maintain heat better than a vertical hive after having looked at both with a borrowed thermal scope during winter (mainly when the bees are in the lower box of a 2 deep set, otherwise they look very similar). I also insulate my hives with blue board, a wool blanket, straw, and a piece of canvas tarp. I figure for $20 per hive, I get an extra gallon of honey per hive per year, but I'm a hobbyist with 10 hives in 3 apiaries and don't have to worry about 1,000 hives and out yards far away.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Ignorant of top bars - isn't there northern limit at which it is a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by CindyinSD View Post
    I saw your YouTube link to the Russian hives but couldn’t get it to play beyond the first half minute. It is seldom I can watch a YouTube video. Our satellite internet isn’t as good as advertised. I’m interested in anything you might have to share, but I haven’t quite figured out the vocabulary yet so I might have eye-roll inducing questions...
    Cindy, I posted a link to "horizontalhive.com" under your "welcome" post.
    Study that first.
    It gives a good prospective.
    That is a lot of info to digest for a new beek.

    Then I posted a lot of my own comments on the BS.
    Look for them in this exact sub-forum - "Top Bar & Horizontal Hive Forum".

    IF the mobility is not required, I would recommend the deep horizontal long hives - hands down.
    IF not for my own mobility needs, I would just do these and not spend the time worrying of any other designs.
    Personally, I live on 0.25 acre suburban property with many limitations; have to run multiple yards/multiple hives, and have to be able to move my bees at any time for any reason.
    Unfortunately, can not be fully invested in the long hives (which would be ideal as for me).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Ignorant of top bars - isn't there northern limit at which it is a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by yruiz View Post
    I'm in zone 4 with an apiary at an altitude of 7,700 ft. I keep only top bars in my apiary and they do fine. In my mind, winter survival is more about the bees than the box that they are in. I think top bars have gotten a bad rap from winter survival due to bad package bees and queens from Costa Rica. As an example, genetics for winter survival will allow the bees to chew a hole through the middle of the comb in a horizontal hive so that the bees can pass as a cluster horizontally rather than passing the cold edges of the comb to move to new food stores. Going through my apiary now, my feral swarms have closed off over 1/2 of their entrances while my package bees are still trying to figure out how to do it themselves. For Lang equipment entrance closing and heavy propolis might be bad, but for my top bars this is a good sign. While I can't prove it, I think that horizontal hives can maintain heat better than a vertical hive after having looked at both with a borrowed thermal scope during winter (mainly when the bees are in the lower box of a 2 deep set, otherwise they look very similar). I also insulate my hives with blue board, a wool blanket, straw, and a piece of canvas tarp. I figure for $20 per hive, I get an extra gallon of honey per hive per year, but I'm a hobbyist with 10 hives in 3 apiaries and don't have to worry about 1,000 hives and out yards far away.
    Can you post few pics of your TB hives?

    Speaking of heat retention in horizontal vs. vertical - the Lang hives themselves are not great either (also largely southern setup).
    The Warre-formatted hives are really the best in that department.
    That what you should be comparing to.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  15. #14
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    Basalt, CO, USA
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    Default

    Snowed yesterday down to 10 degrees last night. A pic of my top bars getting ready for winter as requested.C801F520-8719-4D4D-94FE-50C2FF3D4502_1570829012193.jpg

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Ignorant of top bars - isn't there northern limit at which it is a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by yruiz View Post
    Snowed yesterday down to 10 degrees last night. A pic of my top bars getting ready for winter as requested.C801F520-8719-4D4D-94FE-50C2FF3D4502_1570829012193.jpg
    OK, so yes - I can see you have to use 2-inch XPS slabs on all sides.
    It works in some setups.

    The real pain with the TBH is when you need feed dry sugar from the top.
    For me often this means if the hive dies or not in late winter/early spring (too cold - liquid feed is ignored).
    20170416_125430_Small.jpg
    20170416_125514_Small.jpg
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Ignorant of top bars - isn't there northern limit at which it is a good idea?

    I got to wonder again - how is it TBHs winter in cold climate.
    Well, no magic.

    Madison WI vs Basalt CO (Jan/Feb/March 2019 attached)

    WeatherMadisonVSCobaltJan2019.jpg
    WeatherMadisonVSCobaltFeb2019.jpg
    WeatherMadisonVSCobaltMarch2019.jpg

    You guys hardly even went into the negative F territory last winter.
    All the winter highs are in double-digits.
    Maybe a couple of nights into the negatives.
    That's toasty.

    WI winter can be the real deal.
    No playing around - your bees will freeze (plus the freezing humidity).
    And I am still in South WI.
    The North Woods WI is the real deal for sure.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Ignorant of top bars - isn't there northern limit at which it is a good idea?

    Last winter (which was epic, but still...) if the temps went above 0*F and single digits wind speed I let the chickens out. There were whole weeks plus that they stayed inside with the doors at least mostly closed (they have sliding barn doors—it’s what the existing shed came with). Is this gonna be too cold for bees no matter what I do? Should I plan for 2” of insulation all round?

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Ignorant of top bars - isn't there northern limit at which it is a good idea?

    i build mine out of 2x12.... they over winter all the time... I don't live where you do but this could help.... I had to build one...
    Filled the box in 6 months
    John T
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    If You Learn From A Mistake... It Is Not A Mistake...
    It Is A Learning Experience

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Ignorant of top bars - isn't there northern limit at which it is a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by CindyinSD View Post
    Last winter (which was epic, but still...) if the temps went above 0*F and single digits wind speed I let the chickens out. There were whole weeks plus that they stayed inside with the doors at least mostly closed (they have sliding barn doors—it’s what the existing shed came with). Is this gonna be too cold for bees no matter what I do? Should I plan for 2” of insulation all round?
    To be sure, they keep bees in Siberia up to USDA zone 3 and the no-fly time is up to 7 months (forget Alaska - they keep bees in Alaska close to the Pacific - mild).
    Not a problem IF the equipment is good OR you winter indoors.

    With the sandwich walls and big hives - should be fine.
    No need for 2" slabs.
    You can do something like these and they will be permanently outside.
    http://beefarm.ru/blog/en/pages/reso...h-a-smile.html
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Ignorant of top bars - isn't there northern limit at which it is a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by CindyinSD View Post
    Would a Warrè hive be a better top bar choice for colder climates? I’m in zone 4, sometimes pushing hard on the cold edge of that.
    Émile Warré developed his hive and techniques in the coastal region of France in what today is an agricultural zone 9 (-3.9C to =6.7C, or 20°F to 25°F) . That does not mean that a Warre hive can't work in cold climates, just that it was not specifically designed for a cold climate so it is no inherently better. Some beekeepers are using them quite successfully with modifications in cold climates.
    Zone 6B

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