Who says top bar hives don't overwinter well?
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  1. #1
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    Mar 2013
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    Seattle WA
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    Default Who says top bar hives don't overwinter well?

    I have 16 hives and all made it through the winter. 4 of those hives are top bar hives. The best part about it is that the 4 TBH's are looking the best by far! One hive is currently building comb on the last 4 bars in a 4 foot hive and is pulling in massive amounts of maple nectar. Another hive is about three quarters full and the other two are doing very well but not booming like the other two. All four have queens I raised last year. I inspected all of them yesterday and there are no signs of swarming.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    Dane County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: Who says top bar hives don't overwinter well?

    Quote Originally Posted by dudelt View Post
    I have 16 hives and all made it through the winter..........
    What wintering?

    The Seattle zone was just changed from 8 to 8b. Zone 8 plants are hardy down to 10 degrees F. Zone 8b plants are hardy down to 15 to 20 degrees.
    https://www.seattletimes.com/life/li...ant-purchases/
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Who says top bar hives don't overwinter well?

    Winter is relative. Unlike Wisconsin, we don't get 25 degrees below zero. We do have to deal with 6 month of rain at 35 to 45 degrees and when the sun finally shows itself, half the city thinks it is a alien attack! We also don't get much of a summer by your standards either.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Who says top bar hives don't overwinter well?

    Well, see with winter at " 35 to 45 degrees" I would have had more bees just about now.
    Even a handful of bees can winter fine at such temps (just feed and insulate them).
    You can pull a little cluster through just fine since they will not freeze.

    I am yet to figure out how people winter nucs around me.
    0% success in nuc wintering so far for me.

    As well I am yet to see successful TBH keepers around me .
    There are always few "wanna be natural" types and all they do - sell empty TBH equipment to each other after a couple of seasons.
    I am all for it if I see people doing TBH around here successfully and consistently.
    Being a cheap-skate, I'd be doing it too.


    Your summer can be crappy, but you don't need to worry about freezing bees in summer and sugar syrup is cheap to keep them afloat.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Location
    Marinette County, WI
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    33

    Default Re: Who says top bar hives don't overwinter well?

    GregV, Have you watched Adrian Quiney on youtube. He is doing well with overwintering nucs in Hudson. Hudson is probably a bit colder climate than Dane Cty. I'm on the WI/MI border, considerably more wintery than you, and will be experimenting with nucs this winter following Quiney's methods. At least as far as I understand the methods...

    As dudelt mentioned, it's all relative. I am a rookie beek, but, I think just like successfully bringing my landscaping plants through the winter it is important to start the winter healthy and protect the organism from early and late winter freeze thaw cycles which involves a full set of preparations. This past winter Quiney recorded a video at -30. I think he had only one dead nuc colony this spring.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNGZqj0Ub-w&t=3s

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Who says top bar hives don't overwinter well?

    Quote Originally Posted by NoWIBeek View Post
    GregV, Have you watched Adrian Quiney on youtube. He is doing well with overwintering nucs in Hudson....
    First, I thought Adrian Quiney was wintering his bees in TBHs in Hudson.
    Well - not, as expected.

    Speaking of the nucs, I can see that he does the two common things - 1)5x5 and 2)huddle them up together.
    Anyway, my frames are already tall - essentially 5x5.
    I don't have very many nucs (5-6 total last winter) and they are usually spread over several bee yards.
    My approach is to winter them in over-sized hive bodies (box inside box).
    Given even large clusters collapsed over the last winter, I don't feel too bad of loosing the nucs.
    This year I don't plan on doing any startups after early July (by design); if any late swarms caught - they can stand as-is.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Who says top bar hives don't overwinter well?

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post

    As well I am yet to see successful TBH keepers around me .
    There are always few "wanna be natural" types and all they do - sell empty TBH equipment to each other after a couple of seasons.
    I am all for it if I see people doing TBH around here successfully and consistently.
    Being a cheap-skate, I'd be doing it too.
    The biggest issue I find with top bar hives is that there is no standard or easy way to treat for mites. Once you figure out how top keep the mites at bay, TBH's work just fine. The "wanna be natural types" tend to avoid treatments and naturally, their bees are dying from mites so they don't last as beekeepers. I understand the desire to have bees on a treatment free basis but my personal belief is that treatment free is best left to the experienced beekeepers. Nubees generally don't have the understanding to make it work.

  9. #8
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    Dec 2017
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    Dane County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: Who says top bar hives don't overwinter well?

    Quote Originally Posted by dudelt View Post
    ......The "wanna be natural types" tend to avoid treatments and naturally, their bees are dying from mites so they don't last as beekeepers.......
    I would not default to bees dying of the mites if you are in cold regions.
    There are lots of things that will kill your bees in cold season before mites will.

    Most everyone around me treat their bees - and so what?
    How did the treatment help them this cold winter?
    As always, this spring they just kept buying more and more package bees again to replace their losses.
    Meanwhile I never buy bees, I never treat bees, and yet I still have them (after all my losses that I thought were high).

    Forget the mite story - people need to figure out the very basics first (buy local, winter-hardy bees and keep them in proper equipment for your area as a start).
    Typical shallow TBHs are not the best equipment for my area and are best avoided.
    That alone is a major issue and waste of time usually.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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