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Discussion Starter #1
Should the bees be building comb on the center of each bar? I have some bars that have comb slightly off center. No cross combing. Does it matter that it is not dead center?
 

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My bars are 1 1/2 inches thick. They have a groove down the middle with popsicle sticks glued on.
If all your bars are 1 1/2 inches thick, then they are too wide for the brood nest and it will be a mess sooner than later. Brood bars should be 1 1/4 or even 1 3/8 depending on what school of thought you follow. I used 1 3/8 in the brood nest last year, but will be switching them over to 1 1/4 for this years endeavors.
 

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It depends on the bees for brood nest bar width. Some like 34 mm some 36 or 38. 36mm is too narrow for mine so I am transitioning to 38mm.
If you don't get it right on the brood nest a "wave" can potentiate along the hive. If you start with thinner bars you can add spacers til you find the width your bees prefer.
 

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Ideally they should be centered for a variety of reasons. To keep it from getting worse you will need to feed partially built combs between the best centered combs as they expand the nest, pushing the worst of the offset ones to the honey harvest area of the hive.

Buttering back the cell wall depths some of the last fullest comb can be useful in helping better center the new comb that will be shuffled between a pair of straighter combs.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
All the comb they've built is straight in the center of the broodnest. Slightly off center, but straight. Is it better to leave it that way or center each comb on the top bars while risking damage to brood? I also built them all 1.5 in. thick because I read they end up building brood on honey bars and honey on brood bars so it got too messy anyways.
 

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If all your bars are 1 1/2 inches thick, then they are too wide for the brood nest and it will be a mess sooner than later. Brood bars should be 1 1/4 or even 1 3/8 depending on what school of thought you follow. I used 1 3/8 in the brood nest last year, but will be switching them over to 1 1/4 for this years endeavors.
I respectfully disagree. All of my bars are 1 1/2 wide, and I have never had any problems. All my top bars made it through the winter, expect one with a weak queen. This configuration makes it much simpler to have all your bars one width. Dr. Mangum uses the same width for years on hundreds of hives with great success.
 

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I respectfully disagree. All of my bars are 1 1/2 wide, and I have never had any problems. All my top bars made it through the winter, expect one with a weak queen. This configuration makes it much simpler to have all your bars one width. Dr. Mangum uses the same width for years on hundreds of hives with great success.
If it works for you, all the better. My only experience with that is that I put a 1 1/2in bar in the middle of my brood nest by mistake, and that caused some bulged comb to be built. Maybe if all are 1 1/2 things work out better. I thought that all of Dr Mangum's bars were 1 3/8? I do not have his book handy.
 

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When I built my top bars I bought a bundle of 1-7/16" wide redwood. I planed a bunch down to 1-3/8". Most of my bars are narrower 1.375 but I started using the un planed stock directly. I don't see a difference. I've got two top bar hives that now have a mix of the two sizes, the all have triangle stock on the bottom. I do get cross combing in the back of the hive, all honey. My flow is strong for a couple of months, July & august and with the crush and strain method my comb is fresh and usually full of nectar as it's being drawn so I hesitate to crush back the cross combing. During hive inspections during and after the flow, I start from the front of the hive and move 6-7 frames ( of brood) onto a frame rest so I have more room in the hive then move bars to the front temporarily as I progress further back. Then when done just slid them back to the front one by one and put back the ones I have on the frame rest. If a honey bar breaks I'll harvest it. I'll try to slip an empty bar between two straight ones but often I'm not fast enough. Last year the last 4 bars in each hive where all interconnected due to c-shaped comb. My bees made it thru the winter without touching much of their reserves so I harvested those groups of four as awkward bundles. And as the saying goes,'Try try again'.
Fabian
 

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Last year the last 4 bars in each hive where all interconnected due to c-shaped comb.
This is pretty typical. What I do to avoid this is to use extra deep foundation strips that have been clamp between split bars. I put these every second space with plain bars between. I find by doing this I don't have to look into the hive near as often and up till now the combs have been aligned on the bars without the curving. Worth looking into if you can not get to the hive regularly. 2" to 3" of exposed foundation will do the trick.
 

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As long as there is no cross-combing and the comb is straight, leave the comb as is. The bees know what they're doing. Last year, I saw all kinds of things. For instance, I'd put an empty bar between two straight comb, and the bees would build that bar out in three sections (comb starting on three sections along the empty bar), but it would all come together and be fine once it was fully built out. I know that this is hard advice, but if I learned anything during my first year, it's "don't worry so much!" :)
 

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In my experience it makes no difference how wide the bars are and as long as they are building straight leave them be, they are intelligent enough to sort themselves out, I have 10 hives all with bars of the same width and never had any problems, granted I only deal with wild bees and don't have very cold winters.
 

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I respectfully disagree. All of my bars are 1 1/2 wide, and I have never had any problems. All my top bars made it through the winter, expect one with a weak queen. This configuration makes it much simpler to have all your bars one width. Dr. Mangum uses the same width for years on hundreds of hives with great success.
I agree with Matt (& Dr. Mangum).

I too use only 1-1/2 inch wide bars. Works well for me. Sometimes if the bees do begin building a bit off-center I will flip the bar around (which will either make too close or to far from the previous comb), as a result the bees will adjust it to fit the space (sometimes).
 

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I'm in the same boat. Chandler style top bar but with all 1 1/2 width bars using 1/4 by 1/4 wooden strips (cut down home dept paint sticks) glued in to saw kerfs. First three combs were perfect but now the bees keep building one comb on the center and a second comb on the edge of the same bar that also attaches to the next bar. The comb is straight, just overlapping the next bar. I have already damaged several bars of brood trying to "correct" it but they just continue the same path. Looks like I may have to start shaving some down to 1 1/4 and use spacers as needed. wish I could sort this out some other (easier) way.
 
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