Too late to start top bar hive in MN?
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  1. #1
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    Default Too late to start top bar hive in MN?

    I currently have 2 Lang hives but would like to start my top bar up this year. I can buy a 5 frame nuc of bees. My plan was to modify the frames to fit in the top bar hive so they don’t have to start from scratch with building comb. Is this doable time wise? Once again, located in Minnesota.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Too late to start top bar hive in MN?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mmdiver View Post
    I currently have 2 Lang hives but would like to start my top bar up this year. I can buy a 5 frame nuc of bees. My plan was to modify the frames to fit in the top bar hive so they don’t have to start from scratch with building comb. Is this doable time wise? Once again, located in Minnesota.
    Doable in my book.
    Transfer everything hive to hive via "cut and paste" - why would not be this doable?

    The real question is - is too late to have a 5 frame nuc?
    Not too late either.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Too late to start top bar hive in MN?

    For someone starting-off completely from scratch with 'nothing' - I'd say it would be wiser now to wait until next year - BUT - as you have drawn comb and other hives which could supply stores and some extra bees if needed (providing you don't prejudice them in the process), I agree with Greg ... starting with a Nuc with a laying queen: very do-able.
    LJ

    PS. Even better if the top bar hive could be built to accept your Lang frames unmodified, so the hives could more easily support each other.
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Too late to start top bar hive in MN?

    I have found that everything beekeeping always works better in the spring.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Too late to start top bar hive in MN?

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt903 View Post
    I have found that everything beekeeping always works better in the spring.
    Yes - coming from historic, conventional approach.

    Not necessarily - coming from the current, varroa-mitigating approaches (add here access to very cheap ways to artificially feed - this is a correction from the historic grandpa aproach).
    Late nucs and late swarms work well in the current context.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Too late to start top bar hive in MN?

    Cut and paste? What I think you are saying is to brush the bees off the Lang frames and then cut those frames to fit in the top bar hive. That was my plan anyway.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Too late to start top bar hive in MN?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mmdiver View Post
    Cut and paste? What I think you are saying is to brush the bees off the Lang frames and then cut those frames to fit in the top bar hive. That was my plan anyway.
    Well, exactly.
    This means that you transfer ALL of the resources into the TBH and the question "is it too late?" is really irrelevant.
    You can "cut and paste" in August/September/<pick your month>.... (considering the seasonal issues, of course).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Too late to start top bar hive in MN?

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Yes - coming from historic, conventional approach.

    Not necessarily - coming from the current, varroa-mitigating approaches (add here access to very cheap ways to artificially feed - this is a correction from the historic grandpa aproach).
    Late nucs and late swarms work well in the current context.
    "Grandpa approach!" Bhhhaaa! You young kids today and your new fangled top bars. Maybe I should have elaborated: If the poster is willing to feed fed feed and more feed until winter, then yes it might work. My point was that "conventional" wisdom states that it is much easier to do splits, make queens, draw comb, and make honey in the spring, and not late summer. Late summer is time for varroa management, making sure your existing colonies are healthy and strong enough for the coming winter, which we all know that "conventional" wisdom says that winter is when most colonies die. Winter prep starts now, not in the fall. (more conventional wisdom and grandpa approach, sorry this old man just couldn't help himself.)

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Too late to start top bar hive in MN?

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt903 View Post
    "Grandpa approach!" Bhhhaaa! You young kids today and your new fangled top bars. Maybe I should have elaborated: If the poster is willing to feed fed feed and more feed until winter, then yes it might work. My point was that "conventional" wisdom states that it is much easier to do splits, make queens, draw comb, and make honey in the spring, and not late summer. Late summer is time for varroa management, making sure your existing colonies are healthy and strong enough for the coming winter, which we all know that "conventional" wisdom says that winter is when most colonies die. Winter prep starts now, not in the fall. (more conventional wisdom and grandpa approach, sorry this old man just couldn't help himself.)
    First, I am old enough to be a grandpa.
    Second, I keep no "fangled top bars" - just so it is clear. (Nothing against TB hives - TBs are great hives in appropriate settings. I just don't see them fitting my particular setting.)
    Third, late summer nucs and swarms works as a way to mitigate varroa and keep your operation afloat (chemical free).
    Forth, priorities of a modern homesteader who keeps bees maybe different from the same 100 years ago. Mind you, most of modern homesteaders have a real day job that pays the bills.

    As for me - live and learn (no matter how old).
    Been doing exactly this.
    Last edited by GregV; 07-16-2018 at 12:04 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Too late to start top bar hive in MN?

    Hey, Greg,

    Could you tell me more about your experience with late swarms and late nucs, because i am dealing with this right now and could use some wisdom.

    Thanks
    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Yes - coming from historic, conventional approach.

    Not necessarily - coming from the current, varroa-mitigating approaches (add here access to very cheap ways to artificially feed - this is a correction from the historic grandpa aproach).
    Late nucs and late swarms work well in the current context.
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Too late to start top bar hive in MN?

    First, we need to define what is "late" for your area.
    Second, we need to establish what is the outlook if you will need late feeding or not.

    #1) I feel for my area anything done after July 1st is, pretty much, late.
    With that I will directly point to methods of Mel D. as the #1 source of late nuc handling (his calendar works for me just about perfectly as Mel D. is just across a lake from me).

    Another reason I say July 1st cut off is this quote of one of our local keepers who sells nucs:
    Last day I'm willing to let any nucs go is July 1st. It's an artificially imposed date but I had to put a stake in the sand sometime; much later and the nuc won't have time to grow up and overwinter without considerable effort/skill/luck.
    #2) In my area there are excellent late summer pastures.
    Most any healthy July start should set itself for the winter over the late August/early September flow (weather being favorable).

    So, basically, I have it good all way around.
    For the season, I got 6 starters per Mel D. method and we'll see how they do.
    For now, I can say I might need to feed one of these starts (the smallest one).

    I have to say I depend heavily on Mel D. for respectable experience (who am I after all to teach people, but Mel has enough creds).

    Here I what I observed and why I feel bullish about late artificial starts (even better - late swarms).
    a. two years ago I rescued a very late swarm on August 25th in a cold rain; I had no resources to give them then
    - they took all the syrup I gave them; they also worked their butts off all September building combs, and wintered perfectly fine on sugar honey and sugar slab on top and not mite management whatsoever - not needed.
    - it was just a WOW and I have been kicking this old saying about "swarm in May,...etc"
    b. last year I had two later swarms caught in very late July/early August - both set for the winter totally on their own; nothing from me.
    c. last year in August I had at least four 40 liter artificial nucs with no stores (just brood wall-to-wall) in August; in about a months these nucs were also set for the winter; nothing from me.

    I fed not a single hive and yet all of my late colonies were set as-is.
    Again - in my particular area.
    I got a ton of cheap sugar sitting if have to set some stragglers if they are worth saving.
    Really is a no brainer either.

    Mite story is different; I was a disorganized mess last season; cross-infected many colonies with combined nucs and this did a disservice to me.
    This year, I believe, I am more organized around the mite management (no more combined nucs).

    A limiting factor for some is - how do winter a 40 liter colony?
    I now know I have a non-issue here.
    40 liter sized colonies winter fine on tall frames (very similar to 5x5 Lang setup).

    Another thing - a guy on youtube (Eastern Europe) demonstrated his way to creating an artificial shook swarm in August and sending this into winter just fine.
    He's been doing it for years, regardless of many kicks he got for doing a "wrong thing".
    He just does give a darn and keeps doing it.
    To me this was an eye popper and it works.
    I posted a general outline how to do it somewhere here (something about late nucs).
    Must have resources for this one.
    I want to try this too, depending my status.
    A great side-affect of this case, again, a non-chem way to set a late brood break.
    Late brood breaks are the most effective.

    All in all - many options.
    Just need to think out of the box and not worry much of doing a "wrong thing".
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Too late to start top bar hive in MN?

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Doable in my book.
    Transfer everything hive to hive via "cut and paste" - why would not be this doable?

    The real question is - is too late to have a 5 frame nuc?
    Not too late either.
    Your best option would be to take one of those strong hives and replace their box with the topbar hive and then shake all the bees into the topbar hive with the feeder. Give their drawn frames to the 5 frame nuc that you buy and put in another part of your yard and it will take off. The reason to use the existing hive is because you have a field force that is familiar with the forage and a queen that is already laying well and has a full compliment of nurse bees to sustain a lot of brood.

    Add a feeder to the ones shaken into the topbar hive and they will take off like a newly hived swarm. I just did this on July 4 with a 5 frame nuc into a double wide observation hive. Those bees have already drawn the entire thing halfway full. (and I'm in VA where we are in a dearth)

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Too late to start top bar hive in MN?

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Another thing - a guy on youtube (Eastern Europe) demonstrated his way to creating an artificial shook swarm in August and sending this into winter just fine.
    Here is his original video about August starts.
    It is in Russian and I have no time or energy to translate; just observe and should get the idea.
    He says he does this after the main flow is done but no later than August 5th (he is in Zone 3-4 USDA, somewhere in St. Petersburg thereabouts).

    He preps a hive (honey/pollen frames; water sprayed in; the frames are decapped).
    As he takes off his supers (so to extract them), he just shakes off all that bee into the prepped hive.
    Each prepped hive becomes a dumped pile of bee from several hives (no brood minimizes mite infection).
    FYI: the flow is over and all that working bee is no longer needed in the main hive - it is now liability to die off - this way uses those bees to the max extent by dumping them into new starts and having them work there.
    The hives are then closed in; put into storage for a couple of day. I suppose you can just screen them in shade and provide ventilation.
    He gives them young mated queens of the season.
    In 3-4 days these are new functioning colonies that quickly raise a batch of winter bees and are ready to winter (they do not have to forage - all the stores are given to them).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSkeCcrbkMY
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Too late to start top bar hive in MN?

    Thanks for thhe info Greg. Those are some interesting ideas. Some of I would like to try. I am not quite to finding the queen yet though. I would have to think about how to make it work with my situation.
    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Here is his original video about August starts.
    It is in Russian and I have no time or energy to translate; just observe and should get the idea.
    He says he does this after the main flow is done but no later than August 5th (he is in Zone 3-4 USDA, somewhere in St. Petersburg thereabouts).

    He preps a hive (honey/pollen frames; water sprayed in; the frames are decapped).
    As he takes off his supers (so to extract them), he just shakes off all that bee into the prepped hive.
    Each prepped hive becomes a dumped pile of bee from several hives (no brood minimizes mite infection).
    FYI: the flow is over and all that working bee is no longer needed in the main hive - it is now liability to die off - this way uses those bees to the max extent by dumping them into new starts and having them work there.
    The hives are then closed in; put into storage for a couple of day. I suppose you can just screen them in shade and provide ventilation.
    He gives them young mated queens of the season.
    In 3-4 days these are new functioning colonies that quickly raise a batch of winter bees and are ready to winter (they do not have to forage - all the stores are given to them).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSkeCcrbkMY
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Too late to start top bar hive in MN?

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    Your best option would be to take one of those strong hives and replace their box with the topbar hive and then shake all the bees into the topbar hive with the feeder.

    The reason to use the existing hive is because you have a field force that is familiar with the forage and a queen that is already laying well and has a full compliment of nurse bees to sustain a lot of brood.
    Must say I do like that idea of swapping the Top Bar Hive & Nuc with one of the established hives in order to benefit from the existing forager field force.

    I did exactly that with a colony I haven't been able to 'get going' at all this year - tried everything: extra frames of brood, feeding ++, but they just kept ambling along leisurely, going nowhere fast - just scoffing the food and taking life easy, with next to zero forager activity.

    But - the addition of established foragers from another colony really injected some life into them: now there's wall-to-wall solid slabs of capped brood on 8 or 9 frames. A huge difference.

    Seems a queen is only as good as the colony which surrounds her, and in turn the colony is only a good as their queen. Bit of a Catch-22 there ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Too late to start top bar hive in MN?

    I decided to do the cut and paste method. Was a little less organized than I had hoped but in the end it got done and bees seemed pleased with their new digs. I’ve got a gallon and a half of sugar syrup in there and plan on giving them a week before checking in again. They have 5 mostly established bars hanging and I shut off all but 7 additional bars.

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