Transitioning from Lang nuc to top bar hive...
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  1. #1
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    Default Transitioning from Lang nuc to top bar hive...

    I am in the process of transitioning from a recently installed nuc to eventually drawn top bars to transfer into a full sized top bar hive. I was unable to find a top bar nuc in my area. I wasn't interested in the chop and crop method as the nuc supplier couldn't tell me up front what kind of frames I was going to get. Therefor, being the adventurous woodworker I am, I built a transition hive which is basically a Lang deep with lang frames and top bars in it. I found a few hives on the web that this one is modeled after, but, I was unable to find anyone posting results of the efforts. Being the risk taker that I am I decided this does not mean that those folks efforts were a failure (even though this is what a normal person would suppose).

    So, I am four days into this experiment and there's no going back. I'm sure I will get a few shoulda, woulda comments, however, I am committed. So, just say under your breath "What a dumb @&%!" and enjoy the show. After today's day four inspection i am very encouraged and have found the queen in the top bar section apparently laying. At least her butt was in a cell when I first spotted her.

    Other than this one, I'll wait to post photos until I see some interest in this effort.

    JG269664.jpg

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  3. #2
    Join Date
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    Dane County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: Transitioning from Lang nuc to top bar hive...

    Well, you asked for it..

    In my case with 17" bars...
    Top + bottom (15" + 5") = 20"
    20" / 2 = 10"
    9" is inside hive height, so, 10" x 9" = 90 square inches

    Each bar of 1 3/8" width = 1.375 x 90 = 123.75 cu inches

    Ideal area 2440 / 123.75 = 19.71 bars
    I will say up front, you are setting up a not energy efficient equipment and it will make it hard on your bees (kinda matters in WI).
    Shallow, long, and skinny horizontal enclosure is is an energy-looser (during the cold season, up here).
    A cube is the most perfect energy-conserving enclosure (assuming standard lumber).
    A vertical cuboid is fine too.
    Otherwise a sphere/semi-sphere/cylinder, of course, are the best shapes, but harder to implement/maintain.

    Take a look:
    https://sites.google.com/site/lowenergyhome/architectur
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Transitioning from Lang nuc to top bar hive...

    Well now Mr. Greg! You quoted me out of context. You left out the first sentence which states... "I had this same sizing question as it pertains to swarm traps when building my HTBH swarm traps. The 40 liter size seems the accepted "standard" for such hives. 40 liters is equal to 2440 cu. in." The operative words in that sentence being "swarm traps".

    In that post, which has nothing to do with my transition hive (or this thread), Mr. Barry was wondering how big a top bar should be to attract a swarm. I provided Barry with the math I used to decide how big to make this hive assuming the 40 liter interior size is ideal. Being no expert, I am only presenting what I have read as an ideal size and an example of how that can be determined.

    In an overwintered hive, a different animal altogether, a person needs to make their own decision as to insulation, wall thickness, wind barriers, apiary location, winter hardy bees, etc. based on their local climate.

    My transition hive and my top bar swarm traps are not overwintering hives. If you wanted to add a clarification to Barry that my calculations apply only to a swarm trap that would be OK. I would not mind if you mentioned that in that thread as Barry will unlikely see this thread. I admit I probably wasn't clear in that regard.

    Anyway, I'm glad there is some interest in my transition hive efforts. Sort of...
    Wisconsin/Upper Michigan Border - Marinette County
    First colony, April 2019

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Transitioning from Lang nuc to top bar hive...

    Eight days into my transition hive. These top bars started with nothing but a wedge with a smear of beeswax on them. Building through a queen excluder for the last four days, they have almost doubled the comb and the queen is present and laying. And I saw eggs! Eggs I tell ya!

    There are a total of six top bars and four full frames of comb starting out. Queen excluder was added after four days when I found the queen acting queen-like. She can no longer lay in the frame area and I hope after twenty one days I can transfer her and the top bars into a permanent top bar home.

    First, a little background on my transition hive in the form of a photo. A pic, a thousand words...

    JG139628.jpg

    JG299665.jpg

    JG299667.jpg

    JG299673.jpg

    Best shot of eggs...

    JG299685.jpg
    Last edited by NoWIBeek; 05-31-2019 at 05:20 PM.
    Wisconsin/Upper Michigan Border - Marinette County
    First colony, April 2019

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Transitioning from Lang nuc to top bar hive...

    Quote Originally Posted by NoWIBeek View Post
    Well now Mr. Greg! ...
    Okay, okay.
    Indeed, I assumed your traps are fully compatible to your main equipment (the usual way).

    You are doing a great project.
    But I did my inputs so be warned.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Transitioning from Lang nuc to top bar hive...

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Indeed, I assumed your traps are fully compatible to your main equipment (the usual way).
    I am the epitome of un-usual...
    Wisconsin/Upper Michigan Border - Marinette County
    First colony, April 2019

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Transitioning from Lang nuc to top bar hive...

    Well, I'm not a Top Bar person (tried it once - 'tis not for me), but I do like to see the results of people inventing stuff to deal with problems such as this, and without resorting to crude destructive methods such as 'chop and crop'. So - yes - a very interesting solution, and one which appears to be working ok.

    FWIW - here's another person's solution for dealing with this tricky problem. If memory serves, I pulled this graphic from the Bio Bees site - oh, maybe 10 years ago.



    Beekeepers sure are inventive people ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Transitioning from Lang nuc to top bar hive...

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    FWIW - here's another person's solution for dealing with this tricky problem. If memory serves, I pulled this graphic from the Bio Bees site - oh, maybe 10 years ago.
    LJ,

    Bio bees was one of my references when I was coming up with a design I liked. As I mentioned, this idea was not my own, I just was interested in why I could not find any results from the various designs I found. Lots of versions of nucs attached to HTBHs, stand alones, etc. Well, if one of them would have posted results I probably wouldn't have been as interested in posting my results. Just the way I roll. If it's a challenge I am drawn to it.

    My biggest concern now is making the move in a few weeks (assuming the plan works out). I want to make it as simple as possible, but, with high probability of success. I hope to leave their new home right where it is, but, will go with some expert advice on the move. LJ, you will probably recognize this post...
    https://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...-Hive-B-Method
    Wisconsin/Upper Michigan Border - Marinette County
    First colony, April 2019

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Transitioning from Lang nuc to top bar hive...

    Quote Originally Posted by NoWIBeek View Post
    Lots of versions of nucs attached to HTBHs, stand alones, etc. Well, if one of them would have posted results I probably wouldn't have been as interested in posting my results. Just the way I roll. If it's a challenge I am drawn to it.
    Yeah - I keep coming across this kinda stuff - a novel idea which looks really interesting, and so you read on ... and on ... until you reach the end of the article - when the author reveals that's what he's going to do, rather than what he's already done. Frustrating ...

    Re: meeting the challenge ... you're in good company !

    Re: the move - I'm sure it'll work out fine - bees tolerate interference of this kind very well - especially if the colony has some open brood, which acts like a bee-magnet. Entrance location is the key, as it's only the foragers who work outside the hive (of course).

    So what's the long-term plan ? (bit of an assumption there on my part - maybe there isn't a LT plan) Do you plan on one hive type only, or running Top Bar Hives and Langstroths ? One reason I ask is that - in the latter case - it's always handy to have at least one box available which will take both types of comb support.
    'best,
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Transitioning from Lang nuc to top bar hive...

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    So what's the long-term plan ? (bit of an assumption there on my part - maybe there isn't a LT plan) Do you plan on one hive type only, or running Top Bar Hives and Langstroths ? One reason I ask is that - in the latter case - it's always handy to have at least one box available which will take both types of comb support.
    'best,
    LJ
    I'm going to transfer that transition colony into a new HTBH. That'll be my second colony. I hope to finish the season with at least four colonies. Time will tell. I won't be buying colonies to expand. Hopefully swarm trapping, but...

    I built several Warre hives and the swarms will likely go into them. They were for sale but no interest, so, they're mine. Also sold two HTBHs this winter. Hopefully I can sell a couple each winter.

    I'm interested in raising a couple queens just to give it a go. I have a cupkit that I'd like to try. I don't know when I should attempt that. I'm thinking no later than June here otherwise a new colony won't build before late fall (I'm in Zone 4a in case that means anything to you in jolly 'ol England). Again, we'll see. I may just see how June goes and if I see any queen cells I might try to isolate them instead.
    Wisconsin/Upper Michigan Border - Marinette County
    First colony, April 2019

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Transitioning from Lang nuc to top bar hive...

    Your box design for transitioning from Lang to TopBar looks like it work for going the other way also.

  13. #12
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim KS View Post
    Your box design for transitioning from Lang to TopBar looks like it work for going the other way also. [IMG class=inlineimg]https://www.beesource.com/forums/images/smilies/applause.gif[/IMG]
    Probably true. Though I don't know if folks anywhere would have the same need as I did. I don't think there are many places where a person starting out would be able to buy top bar nucs and did not have a source for lang nucs. : )
    Wisconsin/Upper Michigan Border - Marinette County
    First colony, April 2019

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Transitioning from Lang nuc to top bar hive...

    Quote Originally Posted by NoWIBeek View Post
    Probably true. Though I don't know if folks anywhere would have the same need as I did. I don't think there are many places where a person starting out would be able to buy top bar nucs and did not have a source for lang nucs. : )
    That's probably true, but I have one TB that I'd like to be able to split into a Lang every now & then. That design of box would make it easier.

  15. #14
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    Default

    Last edited by NoWIBeek; 06-02-2019 at 07:31 PM.
    Wisconsin/Upper Michigan Border - Marinette County
    First colony, April 2019

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Transitioning from Lang nuc to top bar hive...

    So I'm six days from the move from the transition hive to their permanent home in a HTBH. I'll make the move next Friday. I hope that I find very little developing brood in the lang frames in the hive. That is the plan anyway. I determined that 14 June would be 21 days after the queen excluder was installed. On that date most, if not all the brood should have emerged. Activity around the hive on these days in the 80s is great! So, if something has gone awry it sure doesn't show at the entrance.

    I was a little concerned when I inspected the transition hive on 4 June. It appeared that very little capped brood on the lang frames had transitioned to emerged cells. The nuc supplier showed me the capped brood on 21 May. Three days later I excluded the queen into the top bar section. It's been 15 days of capped brood. If those were all capped on 21st they should all be empty now, or dead. Wow, if they are all non-viable that just convinces me I was snookered when I bought that nuc. Wouldn't the workers have cleaned out some of the cells by now if they are about eight days over emerge date? Either to stash stores or prepare for brood?

    One thought that I didn't consider previously - If the lang frames are indeed brood-less, or mostly so, and the colony is using those frames for stores of nectar and pollen before I shake the population into the top bar hive, what comes of those frames of nectar when there isn't a population to tend to it? Will the nectar ferment and spoil without workers helping dehydrate it? I have options to turn those frames into nuc assets, I just didn't want to do that. My intention is to retire the lang equipment.

    I'll stop rambling now. I'll know more on next Friday and hope to publish my results to date...
    Wisconsin/Upper Michigan Border - Marinette County
    First colony, April 2019

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Transitioning from Lang nuc to top bar hive...

    I am also an alternative beekeeper. THose dang deeps are damaging for me, so I started with Horizontal Top bar/Frame hives. Now I have Dadant deep hives for honey production (12.75" deep frames, otherwise same dimensions as Lang equipment, hive body is 2 mediums glued together).

    I just found working the horizontal hive to be too slow for what I want to do - but it was very peaceful and I would recommend it to anyone.

    For the move:
    1. Put the new hive entrance facing the EXACT same direction, and a similar height.
    2. I have found trying to make the front of the new hive look a lot like the old hive is important. So, if you have a Lang hive with the bottom slot entrance, and the HTBH has holes for an entrance... it will be confusing for the bees. You can kind of make the Lang hive look like it has holes that line up with the new ones - use wood pieces to block the slot entrance such that there are "holes" for the bees to enter. So, --- - - --- where each - is like a 1" piece of wood. Hopefully, to the bees, it would look like |___0_0___|, right?
    3. Choose the time and day wisely. I avoid doing things that end up with bees on the ground when there is heavy dew. also when rain will come later in the day. Or the weather will shift a lot in 24 hrs, like the high drop 20-30 degrees in that stretch. And I try to choose days where there will be a good foraging stretch, to help ease the stress.
    4. Immediately brush bees out of transition hive. Close it bee tight. And completely remove the transition hive. Otherwise the bees will keep trying to look for the hive if it is laying with 20' of the old hive location - reacting like their tree fell, and all they have to do is find it... which is sort of true. But the transition hive is barking up the wrong tree.

    Also like 5 days before transition, put something distinctive above the holes in the HTBH (if you have holes), such as a piece of duct tape above each hole. And mimic the same setup for the Lang hive with your mock "holes".

    If the color is completely different, you can paint a piece of cardboard the color of the transition hive, and put that on the face of the HTBH....

    And those lang frames with stores - well, if they don't have bees in them, why not cut them? So they fit the HTBH. Otherwise it is a waste. They would need to be frozen, or else they will ferment and be yucky. Oh, you could extract the nectar and make mead!

    The bees will ultimately figure it out, as long as they can smell their nestmates. So I use minimal smoke during this kind of installation.

    Good luck!!! keep us posted. Alternative beekeeping stretches the brain!

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Transitioning from Lang nuc to top bar hive...

    Quote Originally Posted by trishbookworm View Post
    1. Put the new hive entrance facing the EXACT same direction, and a similar height... Also like 5 days before transition, put something distinctive above the holes in the HTBH (if you have holes), such as a piece of duct tape above each hole. And mimic the same setup for the Lang hive with your mock "holes".

    If the color is completely different, you can paint a piece of cardboard the color of the transition hive, and put that on the face of the HTBH....
    Thanks for the advice TBW! Here's a photo of the two hives together. HTBH entrances are, as you guessed, three 1" round holes. I'll start tomorrow by providing their normally "normal" Lang entrance reducer with three one inch holes. I'll post a photo in case that doesn't make sense.

    20190521_184419.jpg

    I can see painting a piece of cardboard white, the exact size of the lang face and placing that over the entrance of the htbh.

    Yeah, I attempted this because the supplier couldn't tell me what kind of foundation the frames would have. I didn't want to make a complete mess of things trying to chop and crop. I may take you up on that idea after the move as the bees won't be making me nervous. I still don't know what the foundation is on them, but, I can probably take them into my basement and take my time trimming them. I'll use the left over comb pieces to put in swarm traps.
    Wisconsin/Upper Michigan Border - Marinette County
    First colony, April 2019

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Transitioning from Lang nuc to top bar hive...

    So, life happens and plans change...

    I'll sum up my experience with the transition hive. Not as planned, at all. But, it worked. This post is long, but, I know a couple folks were interested in this and I wanted to post my results for them.

    Transition Day
    Having little time and even less preparation I moved the top bar combs straight into the top bar hive. No special front facade work. No brushy stuff in front. No moving the top bar hive closer to be at the same exact height and location. I said a couple of prayers and away I went despite a ton of advice (all good) about how to do this correctly. I had good intentions. The top bar entrance was already less than a foot away (as seen in the previous post) and I had to do this in a pinch, so, move them out, shake of the lang frames, add a few bare top bars and close her up. I came back after about an hour and most, not all, of the pissy bees had settled down. Many were at the top bar entrance fanning "this way gals". Within a couple hours all was well with only a couple dozen possibly confused stragglers on the ground under the hive.

    The next morning I just took a peek outside the hive before I left on a trip for ten days. Upon returning I was pleased to see busy bees doing their thing like nothing happened. As my grown up child would say... SWEET!

    So I don't recommend anyone wing it as I did. The advice I received was all valuable. I think I was lucky. I just happened to be surprised one afternoon that I needed to get it done with less prep than I had planned. I did not photograph the process as I was in a mild panic trying to get this done before I left on the trip.

    Some improvements to the transition hive and process that I woulda/shoulda done before installing the nuc.

    - The lang section of the transition hive was too narrow. By the time they had been in the box for the 21 days after installing the queen excluder there was no removing them without crushing a few bees. That really bothered me! The top bar section was just right and that is why I really like the top bar hives. As long as you have some empty bars on the end you can provide any amount of space needed to inspect the bars.

    - I should have waited more than 21 days after the queen was excluded from the lang section. There were probably a couple dozen capped brood still and after inspecting the lang frames upon my return there were less capped cells and dead bees in the bottom of the nuc I returned the frames to.

    -The queen excluder slot was tight. I think a better technique would be to incorporate some type of easily removable spacer in the slot with the excluder. Something that could be pulled out without bothering bees or comb allowing easy (or easier) removal of the excluder.

    And, the justification I had for doing this experiment was that I did not want to do the chop and crop method on the lang frame nuc. Am I glad I did not do that. Yesterday, I took those frames and conducted the chop and crop to add them back to the top bar hives. They were various stages of open cells, honey and pollen. They were all full plastic foundation and it was a b%!#* to cut without mangling some of the comb. It would have killed me to do that with live brood in various stages of development when I received the nuc.
    Wisconsin/Upper Michigan Border - Marinette County
    First colony, April 2019

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