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Discussion Starter #1
Well, I'm not exactly sure what I was thinking, but when I set up the initial cavity for the new package in my TBH I put a few 1 1/2" honey bars in front of the follower. Then I put about 6-7 1 1/4" brood bars in front of that towards the entrance. I assumed that they would cluster somewhere in the middle and that the "honey bars" would be to the backside and wouldn't be used initially. Of course the bees are clustered on the three honey bars and a couple of brood bars.

What's the ramifications of having the brood bars initially built on 1 1/2" bars? I think it's probably too late to sort this out now? Could I maybe slip a brood bar in between the honey bars and hope they cluster "backwards" onto that and try to move the honey bars out of the cluster that way by doing it every couple of days until the cluster is only on brood bars?
 

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I don't keep TB hives but if you start packages in the future I'd use all brood bars to start.

In any case, let them get established then slowly work the honey bars to where you want them by adding new brood bars between the honey and brood bars.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Whatever they have built on I would leave. Whatever they have not built on, I would pull out and replace with the 1 1/4" bars.
Would you do that even it it meant breaking the cluster/festooning mass and shaking them off to the bottom of the hive? There is such a tight pack of bees it is tough to tell if there is comb underneath all that mass.
 

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If you are going to use wide bars you would not want them in until they started pulling wider comb, but that wont be for some time. I think a better way is just to continue to expand the brood nest until they stop putting brood in the bars at the end and back filling those combs will honey. If they are still making comb at that time it is likely that they are making comb for honey stores.

The upside to expanding the brood nest is two fold. The first is the comb will be consistent with the comb around it, and the second is by keeping it open you lessen the chance of a swarm. First year bees can and do swarm.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
What's the draw back of NOT swaping in more narrow boards? I'm assuming that I run a bigger risk of cross combing because they have more than the required amount of bee space? Is there a drawback of having them start building comb on the farthest bar back? Can that cause them to artificially feel cramped or do they really care if they are expanding towards or away from the entrance?

If you are going to use wide bars you would not want them in until they started pulling wider comb, but that wont be for some time. I think a better way is just to continue to expand the brood nest until they stop putting brood in the bars at the end and back filling those combs will honey. If they are still making comb at that time it is likely that they are making comb for honey stores.

The upside to expanding the brood nest is two fold. The first is the comb will be consistent with the comb around it, and the second is by keeping it open you lessen the chance of a swarm. First year bees can and do swarm.
I understand this concept, the problem is I had a feeling I should just put all "brood bars" in from the get go... but I let myself overthink when we were presented with the package three weeks earlier than anticipated. I might crack it open tonight and see if there's any comb attached. We checked really quickly Wednesday, but didn't want to break the cluster up.
 

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Normally the make the nest near the entrance. If I had bees at the back I would probably move the bars once they have some brood. If the bars are too wide you end up with cross comb and burr comb. If the bars are wider than their liking it isn't that they are going to draw down from.the guide and then put in burr comb, they will probably ignore the guide and draw down so that the center of the comb is not in the center of the bar. Unwatched they will eventually be completely crossed. I had one hive last year that would start dead center but on the end the one side was more to the left, the other to the right. I put in a very small wedge and it corrected it. But you can't remove wood from the bars. At least I can't.
 

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Regarding the location of the cluster you can just slide the bars forward with festooning bees attached. We did this two days ago with the fellow that I am mentoring. We direct released two queens in his hives three days earlier. One clustered at the front, one at the back. For the one that began at the back we just removed the front bars, slid the back bars (5 of them) forward as a group, refilled the feeder and moved it forward to the back of the cluster and closed the hive up. Checked it today, all good.
 

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i know this is probably against the grain and fundamentals of the rules of TBH's but, we have a few top bar hives and we use all 1 1/2 bars. we never used any spacers or thinner bars and in our case,it hasnt been a problem. i understand that generally bees build wider (or we want them to ) honey combs. i guess we are strange because we run 9 frames in our honey supers on our langs hahahaha.

i would definitely ( if ur worried about the bar width) let them get established on those 2 bars with some capped brood then instert the thinner bars accordingly. letem be bees :)
 

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Glad to hear that is working for you Tommy. I've heard many people mention using 1.5 inch bars in brood and some using 1 3/8 for everything. Whatever works best for you is the best way to go. But I think that some folks when they start are under the impression that if you use a wide bar they will use it for stores and a narrow bar will be used for brood. The bees will do what the bees want to do with those bars.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Swapped them to 1.25" bars so all they have is 1.25" where they can get to it in front of the follower. Very little wax on the bars. One had about a half a pencil eraser sized spot hanging off of the triangle. The others had some specs on a few places on the bars. Hope I didn't disturb too much... and hope they get to building comb soon. Its been a week... now I'm worried they are queenless or something. Will they build comb without a queen?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
A little, but not a ton. They finally cleaned out their dead between Wednesday and Friday. they have taken maybe a quart of syrup since last Saturday. I saw and suspected robbing, put up a screen and really choked down entrance for a few days. Haven't noticed it since.
 

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Is it too cold? It is nice here (finally) but it may just bee too cold were you are.
Good move on closing down the entrance. I've seen an amazing amount of bees move in and out of a hive in a building were the opening was hardly big enough for two bees.
 

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they have taken maybe a quart of syrup since last Saturday.
That's a little less than I would expect. 1.5 to 2 quarts a week would be closer to what I would expect depending on the package size. I would say something is not right if they haven't built any comb. Should have at least a few good size combs by now.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Been in 50s and 60s for 4-5 days couple days above 70. After tonights rain we are back to highs of 40s. Zip code 52733 if you care to look.

And someone else on another thread said that they'll draw comb in the 40s? Is this true?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Three pound package, it may be closer to a quart and a half, in fact it probably has been. But I believe that some of that could have been robbing. What would a queenless cluster do? Would they still build comb or would they langish indecisive? The only wax in the hive was about half a pencil eraser total on the three bars I swapped out.
 
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