First inspection in my Top Bar hive
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  1. #1
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    Apr 2018
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    Erie, PA
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    Default First inspection in my Top Bar hive

    I am new to beekeeping and the bees have been in the hive for one week today. The queen was released day three. Is it too soon to do an inspection and see how things are going? I have read different advice on this saying now is the time to check out the hive and others saying that it is too soon and if I disturb the hive the bees will reject the queen and the first inspection should be week two or three.

    I did go to see another local beekeeper but he was not helpful because he was down on top bar hives and had a very negative opinion of what I was doing. I remain positive but it would be helpful if I could get a glimpse of what the bees were doing.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: First inspection in my Top Bar hive

    Definitely weekly inspections when starting a new Top Bar Hive. You need to keep an eye on their comb building and correct as soon as you notice them getting off track. Just once a week check up on the comb progress, adjust what's needed and make sure they always have a few spare bars to build on. Once you have two bars of mostly drawn straight comb, start adding new bars in between last 2-3 existing combs.

    They can do some serious building in 3 weeks, so you want them to do it nice and straight on the bars, not diagonally across multiple bars should they decide to do so
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  4. #3
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    Default Re: First inspection in my Top Bar hive

    Thank you for responding. I will check them early afternoon and I will let you know what I see.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: First inspection in my Top Bar hive

    One more question .... if they are not drinking the sugar water I have in the hive should I remove it?

  6. #5
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    Default Re: First inspection in my Top Bar hive

    I'm going to have to let the more seasoned beeks answer that one. I'm only in my second year. The inspection timing I learned on my first year the hard way. Was couple days over a week for my first inspection and already had two combs on one top bar, followed by two more on the very edge of their bars. After I corrected those and kept checking in on them about every 5-6 days, we (the bees and me) got the hang of it.
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  7. #6
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    Default Re: First inspection in my Top Bar hive

    You should go ahead and do weekly inspections to be checking/correcting any cross comb. Be aware that the comb is very soft at this stage so do not turn the bars upside down. Just lift them straight up to look and then put back down. Once they are nice and dark from multiple brood cycles, they can be handled with a little less care if there are good comb guides to facilitate strong attachment to the bar.

    As for the feeder, remember the main goal of the first year topbar hives is to get the comb drawn out. So you will probably be feeding the bees for a good portion of the season. When your main flow starts, the bees will have a preference for natural flower nectar and might ignore the feeder. Still leave it available for the bees, just don't refill it so full next time, if it is taking a week for them to empty it.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: First inspection in my Top Bar hive

    Thank you for the advice!!!! I went ahead and checked each bar and there was a significant amount of comb built out on 4 bars, it was yellow for the most part. I did not see the queen yet and did not see any evidence of eggs because of the huge amount of bees on the comb. I was reluctant to encourage them to move because the comb was soft just as you said. I did not squish not a single bee so I thought I did pretty good. I refilled the sugar water to make sure it was fresh. All in all I thought it went well. Now the hard part will be not to peek until next week and let them do their work.

  9. #8
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    May 2018
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    Wise County, Texas, USA
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    Default Re: First inspection in my Top Bar hive

    I was advised by a mentor to check about every 3 to 4 days , just a quick inspection to make sure they have empty bars as they can get ahead of you in a hurry. She said till you learn how quickly they can build comb she recomends this. She did say not to do a deep full inspection this often just a quick peek at the rear most bars. I'm learning and my bee's are wonderful so far. Have about 7 bars with brood,pollen & a little honey mixed in.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: First inspection in my Top Bar hive

    In spring, during the main nectar flow, a good size colony can build out a bar every day or two. When someone installs a package into a topbar hive, the standard thought is to reduce the hive cavity to a limited amount of room so they bees can make straight comb. Once I have a colony going with straight bars, about 4-6, I give them the entire hive with bars all the way to the end, but the big thing I do differently than most books is that I add empty bars in between the drawn bars of the brood nest to expand the brood nest with more worker comb, and to have the new bars drawn straight. They also jump right on building an empty bar in the brood nest, compared to the 8-10 empty that might be at the end of the colony that will be used for honey stores later on.

    Once the bees start shrinking the brood nest in them summer time, they still have all the comb that is worker brood sized comb that they can store any syrup or nectar in.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: First inspection in my Top Bar hive

    Thanks I am so excited to take the plunge into beekeeping. I have been a Master Gardener for several years and it was the logical next step as far as I am concerned. It is great to have a site like this to get advice and feedback.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: First inspection in my Top Bar hive

    I REALLY appreciate your advice. I have been reading your comments to others here on the forum. I have taken notice and will not be afraid to reach out.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: First inspection in my Top Bar hive

    Mary, Ruth is THE topbar hive expert on the forum. Her advice is always right on the mark.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: First inspection in my Top Bar hive

    I see that and I appreciate that she reached out to offer advice. I am blessed to be part of this group. I also appreciate the advice you give in you post.
    "Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them." Definitely something I need to remember. lol

  15. #14
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    Yakima Co, WA, USA
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    Default Re: First inspection in my Top Bar hive

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    Once I have a colony going with straight bars, about 4-6, I give them the entire hive with bars all the way to the end, but the big thing I do differently than most books is that I add empty bars in between the drawn bars of the brood nest to expand the brood nest with more worker comb, and to have the new bars drawn straight. They also jump right on building an empty bar in the brood nest, compared to the 8-10 empty that might be at the end of the colony that will be used for honey stores later on.
    Yes, yes, yes! Great advice! When mine are drawing out comb I insert bars in between every time I'm in there. Having straight comb is VITAL to being a TBH beekeeper and I believe cross-combing and it's resultant problems are a big reason why people give up on TBH.

    Keep feeding, too...they will shock you with how quickly they can draw out comb if you keep on feeding them. Once the comb is drawn and drawn straight then you can start learning the next things about TBH beekeeping.

    Best of luck!
    Meghan

  16. #15
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    Default Re: First inspection in my Top Bar hive

    Thank you! I love this site.... I feel my world of friends has really expanded!

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