A question about spacers
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Madison, VA
    Posts
    16

    Default A question about spacers

    I installed my package of Italian honey bees into my TBH on Thursday (Three days ago). I am eagerly waiting my first inspection. I walked out today and watched them for a few minutes going about their business, they seem to be doing ok from the outside. I have been reading a lot about top bar management and came across an article touting the advantages of using spacers between honey comb because they said the honey comb is thicker than the brood comb. They claimed it is easier to assess cross combing with spacers. They also claim in the same article that cross combing can be caused by an electromagnet disturbance near the hive? Now short of putting a tin foil hat on every little bee head, I'm not sure what to do about that one. Interestingly the same people who wrote the article also sell spacers to go with the TBHs they sell. (Coincidence?) I'm taking all this with a grain of salt until I hear some other opinions. Thanks

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    South Waikato New Zealand
    Posts
    213

    Default Re: A question about spacers

    As another newbie, I advise to keep the frames tight together. The bees will work with what they have and doing this will mean less mess ups than changing things til you get the hang of them....from personal experience.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    west central Arkansas
    Posts
    1,080

    Default

    I've had great luck using 1.5" bars throughout, and keeping them tight, as mischief suggested. I initially tried 1.25" in the broodnest, 1.5" for stores, but realized how tedious this became as the hives expanded and contracted broodnest through the year.
    Season 5. TF.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Hall, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    319

    Default Re: A question about spacers

    Some commercial TBH come with 2 size of bar. I've tried that and it is a royal pain (as Nordak also attests in a prior post). I'll have an empty comb I want to drop into the brood nest and suddenly realize it is too wide... grrr. That happened frequently this spring... nearly every time I went in the hive.

    I've used "shims" or spacers with good results in the past. Note that Crowder's book (the best TB book around) says to keep the honey combs normal sized by "buttering" the wide part of the combs with a hive tool. (Basically, "smoosh" them back into shape). I've tried that as well although it isnt' a lot of fun. I'm go to keep trying "drop empties into the brood nest, and let old combs fill with honey" this year.

    You don't need to buy shims if you do any woodwork at all. If you are cutting your own bars out of a 2x4 or 1x4 or whatever, it is easy enough to rip some 1/8" shims while you are at it.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Isle of Wight, VA
    Posts
    2,770

    Default Re: A question about spacers

    what size are your topbars, TLove? The kits I buy come with 2 different sizes, 1 3/8 and 1 5/8. Supposedly, the bees build brood on the narrower bars and honey on the wider bars, but not really. Depends where you put them in the hive (and then sometimes they still build all drone comb in the brood nest, which gets moved to the end to become a honey bar).

    But I had a friend who used the spacers that you are describing. What a mess those turned out to be. The bees kept building the comb deeper where the spacers were at, so she kept adding more spacers. It was just a mess.

    When my bees build out the wide honey combs, I just "butter back" the honey fins so they are normal size again. Rarely do they enlarge them again. I still do like having the 2 sized bars as the wider ones really do give you a huge chunk of honey. I had 2 bars last year that were 3 cells deep.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Madison, VA
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: A question about spacers

    We built our hive using Jon Peters' plans we found on the internet. We did make some changes. We made the top bars 1 3/8 wide on Wes Crowder's advise and we changed the entrances from the three center holes to two entrances, still on the side of the hive but at the far ends. It sounds like I should keep it simple for now (K.I.S.S) and skip the spacers. I'll let the bees do what they want to do. Thanks again.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    3,083

    Default Re: A question about spacers

    I tried spacers.
    Like here:
    20180527_174559.jpg

    My resume - I did not like them - too many moving pieces to have and handle to my taste.
    Only few spacers I will have around for emergency/convenience.
    Instead I am switching to pass-through top bars and cover cloth.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Geauga, Ohio
    Posts
    439

    Default Re: A question about spacers

    I love spacers! We did 1 3/8" bars, and when they bees make fat comb, I just pop a spacer in. If there are a ton of bees between the bars, and they are not moving when I blow smoke on them, because it is way crowded, I use a spacer (1/8" or so) to push the bees down, push the bars together, then pull the spacer out.

    Anyone with a table saw can make lots of spacers quickly. You could also look for molding to use - like in the wood trim section - that is 1/4" and straight, instead.

    I have had a lot of problems with bars getting fat comb when I place an empty bar between areas that have uncapped honey. Sometimes it was the whole bar, sometimes just the top (and then you can cut that off, it's just a strip an inch wide or less sometimes)>

    Be advised that a lot of honey trickling down the face of a comb can smother a lot of bees - as in kill them. Honey is lethal in a hive, and the bees respond immediately to suck it up so it won't kill brood or bees. So if a little honey is being spilled, and there are a lot of bees to respond, then that will be fine.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Lilburn, GA, USA
    Posts
    725

    Default Re: A question about spacers

    I am a fan of spacers as well. The bees will make different width combs depending on their needs and having spacers allows the beekeeper flexibility in dealing with this variety.
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Denver Metro Area CO, USA
    Posts
    1,879

    Default Re: A question about spacers

    I am anti spacer
    I feed blank bars in the the brood nest and constantly rotate toward the back and place blanks between started combs.
    keeps every thing strate and uniform, a round or 2 of brood cocoons reinforces the comb, and the posses maximizes worker comb production. I don't want drone sized honey comb when I make nucs, I want to give them a comb of brood and a comb of food, and when they eat the food I want that space for the queen to lay in

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