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Comparing hive styles and methods...

2181 Views 9 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  MattDavey
I am just coming up to the end of my first year with Langs.

This year my goals are:
To not regress
To be able to find and possible mark the Queens
To make splits and possibly provide our own Queens
To recognize when a hive is likely to swarm and prevent it

That seems like a lot to me..


I am also interested in trying to run a couple of top bar hives for fun and comparison...the Langs are for fun and production.

I figure I would need 2 top bar hives and at least 2 mini top bar nucs..or do you need separate nucs when you have follower bars?

The big questions to start with are:

How do I transfer starter bees from Lang frames to top bars?
How does one control swarming in top bar hives?
I presume you harvest honey as frames fill but can you do that without destroying the comb?
How does one feed syrup to these hives? Are there top bar feeders?
How dies one treat with products that work by spreading fumes..MAQS and OA vapour?
How does one over winter these hives...can you use a version of a quilt box and how do you put solid sugar on them?

Hopefully someone has the time and interest to reply..if so thanks.
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If you already have Langstroth equipment go with a Long hive instead and use foundationless frames.

Have entrances at each end.

It's then easy to do a split and make a Nuc. Just put in a divider/follower board. The other end becomes their entrance.

The only thing different with wintering a horizontal hive is to make sure the Broodnest it up one end of the hive before winter. That way they only have one way to move when eating stores.

I control swarming by Opening the Sides of the Broodnest. I also use supers with the Long hive.

You can still crush and strain the foundationless frames, or if they are older you can extract the comb if it's attached to the sides and bottom.

I feed with a zip lock plastic bag. Lay it in top of the frames and poke holes it just before you put on the lid.

If you still want to do Top bars you can still do it in this hive.

Here is one of my long hives without the cover on it:

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I really like the looks of your long hive. Can you provide more pictures showing the interior and entrance(s)?


I have 8 of those hives. They work ok, but take a bit more management.
Janne, I just started last year as well, but with just one hive. My goal this year is to have 40 lbs of honey for my daughter's wedding in November (for wedding favors). Despite that being my one and only goal, I did split my hive last fall, inherited 8 deep frames of brood from someone going to medium frames, and caught a swarm last weekend! So I am currently watching a new hive for signs of a queen (the girls are quite calm, so I am hopeful), and crossing my fingers that the swarm does well in my top bar hive, as well as supering my original hives.

I bought a TBH from Hives and More. It uses 19" bars, which also fit Langs. My intention was to put some bars into one of my Lang hives (after the flow) and hopefully stock my TBH that way. I was a little fearful of installing a package of bees. As it turned out, the swarm practically fell in my lap, so I have a top bar hive a year ahead of schedule. The hive came with a follower board that has a hole that leads to a "stingless" feeder on the other side that uses an inverted mason jar, but if it hadn't I would be using the baggie feeder mentioned above. If I treat, it will be sugar dusting, which I've seen done with bellows-type of applicator. My hive has 1" holes/entrances that I can plug with corks--not sure if that helps with the vapor question. And when I harvest (unlikely this year), I will most likely crush and strain or do cut comb. I've read that some beeks do spin top bars but it seems too complicated to either reinforce the comb or adapt the extractor. Overwintering--not so much a problem here in Florida, although I am in the northern climes of the state, so it gets a bit nippy. But I don't think anyone around here insulates anything.

My back-ups are getting a little thin. I still have enough boxes for another Lang hive and I have a Lang nuc, but I don't have a top bar nuc. I'm not sure how essential a nuc would be since my bars could hang in a Lang nuc in an emergency or during an inspection. I do want to have more top bar hives and maybe even be a source of tbh nucs, but all that will have to wait until I achieve my one and only goal this year--with the help of my girls. Next winter: carpentry!
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I agree that a long Lang may be the most practical option.

Matt do you have more picks and plans?

I take it with a top bar hive the frames make a solid roof. That is why I asked about summer and winter feeding. With the Langs I put sugar blocks on the frames in the winter and use hive top feeders in summer dearth and pre flow build up. If the top of the bars make a solid top the bees are trapped below them so how does one feed, and check for need to add more feed, in those situations? Where does on place a protein patty?

I must admit I am a Varroa treatment with MAQS or Apivar strips in mid Aug and OA vapour in January. I would like to know how folks do those treatments.

Can you use some sort of moisture quilt and under roof insulation in winter. What about top and bottom entrances or ventilation holes?

How does one clean the bottom board mid season? Is it screened and hinged for easy access.

Thanks for input.

Seems now I have to figure out how to do these things then decide if I jump on trying top bar or modified to long langs.

I was curious about having hives where the bees drew from bars...more like if placed in a Perone box but with removable comb. I thought it would broaden my experience with hive management. But I am not willing to take them through a northern winter without additional care of varroa treatment and feeding.
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Matt's hive is furniture grade. Here are some rough carpentry grade hives.

Table Machine Apiary Backyard

I love them. I have Langstroth equipment too, and if I were trying to make a living from honey, all my hives would be Lang. But as a backyard beekeeper, the long hives are my favorites.
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Can you provide more pictures showing the interior and entrance(s)?

The lids can all be used as a top entrance, but they are half the width of a standard box. They have a piece of stick in them if not used as an entrance.

The bottom entrances can just be put in the base.
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Do you any problems with them making burr comb in your lids? Looks like lots of extra space there.

The lids can all be used as a top entrance, but they are half the width of a standard box. They have a piece of stick in them if not used as an entrance.

The bottom entrances can just be put in the base.
The box is simply a standard 10 frame Langstroth hive, but the width of 3 boxes put together. So it could take 3 supers. It takes 32 frames. In the photo above I have 2 supers on it with a half width access of each end.

I don't use an inner cover, but use a vinyl hive mat cut to half the width of a standard box. This stops comb from being built above the frames. The frames are also (mostly) foundationless with only a 1" strip of foundation used as a comb guide. Foundationless frames dramatically reduce the amount of burr comb in a hive as they have a lot more drone comb. So don't need to make more. They have only ever built in a lid if they ran out of space everywhere else in the hive first.

The base and lids are made of marine grade plywood. I'm now also painting them with Decking oil before using the varnish to improve waterproofing.

The base can be dropped down an inch and then slid out to clean it by removing two runners which hold the floor in place. They also slide out. I'm not sure that I am happy with this or not. Maybe two hinged floors attached on the outside edges and opening from the center would be easier to use.

The floor is as per a standard hive with a height of 19mm (3/4") and entrances cut into it at each end and the center. So it could be made into 3 colonies if wanted.

You can see the design of the lids in the photo above. These are what took the most time to make.
it may be a lot easier to cut 2 pieces of 9mm (3/8") plywood to the same size (half the width of a standard box) and cut a wedge out of the end of one for an entrance and then glue the two together.

The legs are cut to a height where it is comfortable for you to put your hands flat on top of the frames. They are attached 1/6 of the length of the box from the ends.
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