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I'm building a TBH for spring, and I wondered if there is a downside to giving bees access to the top of the bars from the inside. I don't want an additional top entrance because of SHB, but I see several advantages to giving them access to the top and no disadvantages.
 

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I'd be careful on too much access above the bars -- especially if you're planning bars to accommodate a super -- as they could begin building comb from the underside of your roof. :) If that's not the case and you're simply checking to see if it's okay if they can weasel their way onto the top of the bars, I doubt you'll have any issues. They have access to the top of the bars in my hives and I've not had a problem.

Matt
 

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"If you make sure they only have a bee space to walk around in then you should be ok. But you should also read up some more on maintaining the hive environment. "
Miki,
A challenge of mine is that there in no immediate TBH keepers around here, and having no previous experience, it is hard to translate TBH keeping, or having, from Lang written material. I also, just by nature, have a difficult time transating written material period, without hands on.
For instance, how would you give sugar via the mountain camp method in a TBH, with no spacers to allow the bees up thru the bars, and no physical space to keep it in?
Thanks,
Carrie
 

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Drill a small access hole in your follower board and place the sugar on a newspaper beyond the follower board in the empty space. The bees will exit through the follower board into the empty space to get to the sugar or syrup feeder. I place both in mine and they utilize both all winter here in S. Alabama.:)
 

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Hab,
I don't use a follower board and with the colder temps, the bees would cluster tightly. Would an adaptation be to just put the sugar at the bottom of the TBH and when temps warm, the bees would break cluster to feed?
Thanks,
Carrie
 

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My understanding is that with the colder temps its even more important to use a follower board. But many don't. Will they break the cluster in your much colder temps. I don't know, but doubt it. Try building a frame feeder to match your TBH dimensions and place it behind but as near your cluster as possible. I saw one on another forum but didn't save a copy of it. Will try to find it for you.
Or try placing the sugar directly under the cluster weather permitting.
PM me if you want some of my links to some good TBH information.
 

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Hab,
I don't use a follower board and with the colder temps, the bees would cluster tightly. Would an adaptation be to just put the sugar at the bottom of the TBH and when temps warm, the bees would break cluster to feed?
If you don't use at least one follower, you are making your bees work hard to retain heat. I would suggest fondant as the food of choice in winter if they don't have enough stores, as they often throw granulated sugar out of the entrance.
 

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There are many theories as to how hard bees work maintaining colony/cluster temp. None are really proven. Some of the mods here have great success with granulated sugar I happen to agree with buckbee fondant works great for me. Heres the problem if you add a follower board you are changing the natural environment the bees must survive in. You take away the bees need to adapt to survive. We have seen examples of this in Nature numerous times, dolphins that loose their natural hunting skills because of constand toutirs hand outs, bears feeding exclusively from garbage.
 

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my plan is to put a short piece of board sideways(same way as the top bars) in the bottom of the hive and lay a baggie feeder on it.
 

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That will work fine as long as they are not in a winter cluster. What you could do is fasion a fake comb from hardware wire and a TB and stuff it with fondant and just hang it next in line. once again you are recreating something as close to natural as we could possibly get. The winter cluster will move on to it/get close enough to to use it. I have had good results with this. Everything we do has consequences in this I see the plus side of preventing a colony from starving and becomming a dead out right before there is a pollen/nectar source in early spring.
 

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What you could do is fasion a fake comb from hardware wire and a TB and stuff it with fondant and just hang it next in line. once again you are recreating something as close to natural as we could possibly get.
...except that it is made from metal, which is not 'natural' and will conduct heat away from the cluster, which is the last thing you want.

Much better IMO to use a feeder built into a wooden follower, and made from non-conductive material.
 

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From: http://www.beesfordevelopment.org/portal/topic.php?id=40&p=96

Natural methods for the management of bees for sustainability will be determined by the ways the bees themselves want to live. Consequently, there may be some conflict between what the bees require and what the beekeeper requires. For example, the reproductive strategy of honey bees is to maximise their population by division, while humans may want to keep the colony whole to maximise their harvest. Methods of beekeeping should be appropriate to the local environment and local bees, and should always strive to maintain honey bee health. Beekeepers should have a positive effect on their bees and on the surrounding bee population. Thoughtless and uninformed beekeeping can have unintended negative consequences.

Natural beekeeping is a methodology which aims to imitate the environment and lifecycle of the bees and to satisfy their needs with methods and techniques as close as possible to their wild and natural state.

Follower boards do not belong in "Natural Beekeeping" neither does metal but once covered with fondant it does not conduct anything. Once covered with bees well then I would only guess the heat retention would be a bonus. I don't know but it works for me.

The bees needs do not require their nest be closed in between follower boards and shuffled around like a deck of cards prior to winter so they can reach all their stores.

There are two arguments here plain and simple:

First: I need to regulate the bees nest and help them control the hive environment with follower boards.

Second: I want to breed strong survivor stock so I let them deal with their own environment escaping the crutches man has installed out of the bees way that they may adapt on their own and not remain dependant on me.

Which one makes more “natural “ sense?
 

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Follower boards do not belong in "Natural Beekeeping" neither does metal but once covered with fondant it does not conduct anything.
It will be exposed to the bees as they eat the fondant.

And BTW If the mesh is small enough to retain semi-liquid fondant, it will likely be too small for the bees to pass through, so how will they access all the fondant?

Once covered with bees well then I would only guess the heat retention would be a bonus.
Metal would conduct heat away from its source, not retain it. Basic physics.

The bees needs do not require their nest be closed in between follower boards and shuffled around like a deck of cards prior to winter so they can reach all their stores.
Did someone suggest that combs should be 'shuffled'? Or have you independently decided that followers are somehow less natural than other parts of a hive and are therefore to be deplored?

Please explain how it is that followers are decreed unnatural, while top bars, rectangular entrances and wire mesh feeders are somehow 'natural'. Or have you just got a bee in your bonnet?
 

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buckbee said:
It will be exposed to the bees as they eat the fondant.

And BTW If the mesh is small enough to retain semi-liquid fondant, it will likely be too small for the bees to pass through, so how will they access all the fondant?
How do they reach into a flower to get nectar, by the way fondant is not semi fluid it is a paste that retains its shape if moulded, They manage fine with #8 hardware wire, Basic beekeeping


buckbee said:
Metal would conduct heat away from its source, not retain it. Basic physics.
Better go back and check your basic physics its a petty issue at most and surrounded by bees generating heat it ain't going nowhere. And the issue of saving the colony outweighs your suggestion.


buckbee said:
Did someone suggest that combs should be 'shuffled'? Or have you independently decided that followers are somehow less natural than other parts of a hive and are therefore to be deplored?

Please explain how it is that followers are decreed unnatural, while top bars, rectangular entrances and wire mesh feeders are somehow 'natural'. Or have you just got a bee in your bonnet?
The explanition is in the post above, you just need to read it rather than ignore it your the only one that seems to have a bee in your bonnet attacking everything i post!

everything I suggest is the BEST possible way to recreat as close to a "natural" environment.

But YOU asked so here is the common sense: After this stop attacking my posts and opinions agree to disagree but this is getting old, I have been pointing out the flaws in this design for years and have changed a lot in my own because I do not let pride come before the bees.

A central entrance with two follower boards one either side sets the brood nest at the entrance and the stores on either side also. Come winter the stores from one side must be moved to the other side because the bees start winter at the brood nest and go one direction and will starve with stores on the other. I know I tried the hive out and burned it years ago., I even asked you how you dealt with this issue and you could not answer me then!! Wish I could find that e-mail.

An end entrance puts the brood nest at one end and stores behind that and they set themselves up for winter. No shuffeling the combs like a deck of cards, screwing up the bees plans, never making ANY forward progress toward sustainability.

Not physics just common sense work smarter not harder.

If thats not good enough for you i do not care I am not the one with a bee in my bonnett. I have stated my case because I tried it and it don't work for me and I can't find anything natural that can be mimicked by Follower boards they are just more needless man conceived garbage beeks throw into hives.

you have your opinion and I have mine give it a rest!
 

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makes sence to me miki. i like the way u think. put the bees before your pride. i dont know either one of u 2 and i dont have a dog in the fight. but it shure makes since to me.
 

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Gary,

I'm certainly not out to attack you, but I cannot grasp how you can justify the use of a metal fondant container in the hive but so vehemently condemn the use of follower boards. In addition, you failed to clearly respond to Buckbee's question regarding the "shuffling" of comb as you assumed went hand-in-hand with the user of follower boards.

You seem to be adamant about providing the bees with a natural environment, which is fine, and is what I believe all of us in this section of the forum are pushing toward, but as I read your numerous arguments it seems like the logic is often a bit faulty. "No follower boards allowed, but metal fondant containers are okay. Side entrances are bad, but 'Varroa drawers' are splendid." Is the use of powered sugar any less 'man made' than the use of follower boards? We all understand that you are a devoted foundationless beekeeper, and I am thankful for a number of your insights on other forums, but recently you've come across rather brash.

Please, for your sake and the sake of your business partner, just think through your comments before posting...many eyes are watching. :)

Cheers,
Matt
 

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Your missing the point completly. First of all a wire is used to hold foundation in place and is always present in hives that have frames and it is not enough to make a difference and niether is a cage to hold fondant granted there is a lot more wire. BUT in the case of saving a colony or loosing it is a replica or as close as we could get to recreating the natural environment it is "NOT" natural is is a colony saving measure!

The other point your missing is that all the of these crutches I propose are designed to be escaped out of the program. That means you gradually remove thes things giving the bees a chance to adjust to thier natural environment slowly making them more and more dependant on themselves and less and less dependant on us.

The Varroa Drawer so closely mimicks the floor of a natural cavity it would probably not even be missed, same for a quilt box, but you let me know when a tree starts sucking in its gut to accomodate the bees and i'll look at follower boards! I would like to see a day where bees naturally keep Varroa populations in check.

If you think I failed to clearly respond to the shuffeling of comb issue go back and read again its pretty clear you did not bother to read it.

I hope as many eyes as possible see this so beekeepers stop putting unnecessary garbage in hives and realize the bees can do a lot more than most give them credit for all by them selves. Why do you think they are dying in the first place!

ONCE AGAIN THIS IS MY OPINION AND MY BUSINESS IS BASED ON IT AND IT HAS BEEN WELL THOUGHT THROUGH!!!!!!!

Why don't you try to make a valid "natural" argument in favor of follower boards instead of critising mine!!!

Do you have a plan to eventually get rid of them? If not how will your bees ever develop the means to cope with your environment? Do you even know what the original use of a follower board was for?
 

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I have 2 TBH's, don't use follower boards and don't wrap my hives. It gets a little cool here and so far the bees have survived. I do put a super of honey above the cluster later in the winter and use the bees natural tendency to move up to ensure they have plenty of feed to survive. I think, in my area, if I put the feed on the floor of the TBH, the bees would starve because it's often too cold for them to break the cluster and move DOWN [not natural] to the feed.

8°F and wind at 30mph yesterday morning.
 
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