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Hi all,

We are new to bees and just setting up a Top Bar Hive in Maine. Would like to try and attract local bees rather than importing. I have some lemon grass oil as recommended in one article that I read and we are thinking to attach some comb strips to a few bars. I just wonder when I first set up, how large do i make the hive ie.. open bars to the follower or do I just keep the whole thing open.

Any recommendations are appreciated.

Thanks, Barry
 

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Preferred volume according to Tom Seeley is 40 liters. I’ve been told that is approximately the same volume as a 10 frame Langstroth hive body.
 

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If you can, try some beelining - take a kitchen sponge (new, never soap), put in a dish with 1 part sugar to 1 part water. Add a tiny amount of anise extract - like, if you put 1 drop in 1/4c water, use 1 tsp of that - to a quart of sugar water.

On a warm day, you can place that at the four corners of an area - try for far apart that you can't see each station - and if bees come by, you can watch to see which way they go after they tank up. And if you note that angle at all 4 stations... you can more or less triangulate some sense of distance (angles converge? less than 1/2 mile away, angles parallel? hive is pretty far).

Bees love old comb, it's a good lure. Bees don't like draft, avoid that with the TBH. You may not want local bees - looks like feral bees are swarmy, and require a 40 L cavity and swarming each year to keep varroa mites at bay. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13592-017-0519-1 for a paper from Tom Seeley.

You can breed swarminess out of bees, but it is hard. I would really suggest shopping around for local overwintered bees for your first hive. You may be able to talk the seller into cutting some frames to be the shape of your hive (NOT with bees in it), or putting foundationless frames into a hive for you to have and then strap to your hive bars.

Or get a package, and then replace that queen with a local queen. I agree queens raised local have advantages, but I do not agree that feral queens have advantages. :(
 

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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 math... just measure your follower board
First find square inches (( a + b) / 2) x h
a and b are the lengths of the top (ceiling) and bottom (floor)
h is the height floor to ceiling (measure your follower)
That gives you square inches.

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

Hope that helps.
 
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