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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How do I keep bees from making connections from the comb to the support that the top bars sit on? (The support is about 3/4 of an inch thick--that's the vertical space before the box starts slanting in.) Or if they do, will the connections be light enough that I can just break it without damaging the primary comb?

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Mmmm... Don't laugh too hard. Its my beer-cooler-observation-nuc. :D Cost me about $15 to make. Now I just need to see if the bees will cooperate... (its gonna stay in my garage and live under a drop cloth to keep out the light when I'm not gawking at them.)

I'm not yet done with the bars--I need to put a 45 degree angle on both sides and fill the trough with beeswax (seeing if the combo will 'help' the bees keep things straight). I'm also considering putting that same 45 degree angle on the ends of the bars so they sit lower on the supports, and maybe avoid this problem.




 

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You could cut notches in the ends of the top bars, so they lock into position on the supports. That might help with your anticipated issue. Their might be some trouble with attachment of comb, cutting the top bars into a v-wedge shape between the ends (which should remain flat), inserting and fastening a piece of wood in the groove, or even filling the groove with beeswax that projects 1/8" above the surface, and other methods, may help with attachment. Most important is to always be aware that you are handling top bar combs, one momentary movement in the wrong way can destroy any attachment. You might need to work with it as you get used to your observation top bar hive.

Here is a link to an illustration of what I am talking about Stylized Top Bar Design.
 

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If the bees observe "bee space" they should not attach the comb to the side support. However, they most likely will. If they do, you will have to cut through it during inspection. They will also glue the bars down with propolis.
 

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While you don't necessarily need an elaborate wedge as a guide for successful top bars, you do need a guide of some sort protruding from the bar. I believe you'll have much better success with a popsicle stick or a wedge than a line of wax in the kerf. I don't wax any of my top bars and they do great with a simple guide.

Cheers,
Matt
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Yeah, like I said, I'm not done with the bars yet... I need to put a router over them to make that triangle. I'm doing the triangle WITH the wax-filled kerf at the tip of the triangle.

Has anyone tried combining the two features yet?

Thanks for all the advice so far!
 

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Building cross comb to the supports is not a problem, easy to cut through. Propolising the bars to the supports will be a bit more of a problem as the styrofoam will give you little support for hive tool leverage. The inside of the supports is flush with the wall of the hive, right? If there was space under the supports the bees would fill it with comb making it impossible to lift the bar.
As an observation Nuc it should work, as long as you can keep it that small. How many bars can you put in it? Do you have other hives you can give frames of brood to?
After you build the wedge on the bars you will have to readjust the ends so they can sit flat on the supports.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I can fit 4x 1 1/4" bars in the middle, plus 2x 1 1/2" bars, one on each end. The workable area of the bar is about 13 inches, and about 9 inches from bar to screened bottom.

And yeah, I do have a couple other hives I can fool with if necessary, but I also have a more elaborate, larger obs hive in the planning stages--that will be the ultimate destination of these bees, if I can figure out how to work a TBH on a small 'nuc' scale! Right now, they consist of an unmated queen in a mini nuc, so they have a lot of building to do to outgrow this thing!

Will bees build comb out wider than their initial support area?

Is there a good thread you can point me to for 'starting out' on TBHs?

Thanks for all the advice so far!
 

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Looks like styro-foam! i would be more concerned with how many bars i was gonna put on top cause every cut out for a window observation has to be weakening the structure i would think! just my opinion!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
honeybeekeeper--it is styrofoam! That's why I have a wooden bar set vertically in each corner, and horizontal supports in both directions resting on top of the verticals. I'm confident it can hold 40 lbs, and I don't think much more than 30 would fit in there.
 

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It will probably work, but -

1. be sure to cover that window, or you will cook them
2. for the same reason, make sure you have a ventilated floor
3. the bees will chew styrofoam, so don't expect it to last long
4. you don't need a 45 deg. slope
5. COVER THAT WINDOW!

Have fun :)
 

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Will bees build comb out wider than their initial support area?

If you mean will they add to the comb if you put it in a larger space the answer is yes. At least my bees have done so. I started out with a TBH from backyardhive.com with bars that had 12" triangular guides. Built a bigger hive and did a split since the first hive proved to be way too small. The triangle guides on my new hive are 18" long so I had to build adapter bars to fit the smaller bars into, so they could fit into the larger hive. They have since started drawing out the smaller comb towards the sides of the bigger hive.

As others have said cover the window and make sure your nuc has adequate ventilation. Comb collapse is no fun!
 

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I have been using cut comb wax foundation cut into a starter strips and melted into the grooves cut into my top bars. I did try using some stick, but the bees build funny on them (double comb, etc).
 
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