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Hello all! I am very thankful to live in an area where I can have just about any kind of animal I want...well, within reason, I suppose. I have an established mixed flock of fifty chickens and five ducks, in addition to six horses, three cats and four dogs! So, then, I asked myself what better thing to add than a hive or two of bees? However, getting bees has proved to be a very confusing endeavor.

I had done a bit of research and since I’m not a young whipper snapper anymore, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to lift the full boxes of a Langstroth Hive, so I decided on a Top Bar Hive.

Fast forward from the planning and researching stage. We built our TBH and in no time received a small swarm that had set up camp at my husband’s work.

Despite all the research I’ve done, my bees have left me completely baffled. I have joined this forum in hopes all the knowledgeable folks can help straighten me, or my bees, out!

TBB (ThreeBrokeBees)
 

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Welcome to Beesource
The FIRST thing you need to do is find a local club and join/attend meetings.
Ask if they have a mentor program.
The bee's know what they have to do, you have to learn what they are doing and how to stay one step ahead of them.
Have fun learning and don't stress about mistakes the bee's will fix them.
 

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Thank you for those very kind words, Hoot Owl. I really thought that’s how we would have proceeded, but some how we got our dang cart BEFORE the horse! Maybe it’s still not too late!
 

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ThreeBrokeBees:

Well, I hate that you are starting this in the pandemic, because the Alabama Beekeepers' Association and Auburn University put on a couple of really excellent programs in Clanton, Alabama each year. Of course these have been suspended until . . . well, whenever.

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with starting this endeavor with a Top Bar Hive, you are going to find most beginner information geared toward Langstroth hives. I recommend (though it certainly is not necessary) to try to start a couple of langstroth hives. There is much more advice available and they are generally more forgiving (my opinion) than Top Bar beekeeping.

You are near Gadsden and Lookout Mountain Honey Bees, which is a great supply for equipment and bees. You need to find a regional beekeeping club. http://www.alabamabeekeepers.com/
 

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Hi TBB, try an eight frame hive with all medium boxes, they will be much more manageable. Deb
 

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Top bars are tricky. I started with 2 and regretted it almost immediately. If you're looking for some mentorship, I know the guys at beekeepingmadesimple.com offer help and are pretty responsive to their online students. Do you have a specific question we can help with? Do you live in a place with a cold winter? Overwintering a top bar is a little harder but can be done. Let me know if I can help.


Happy bees, happy beekeeper
TheHappyKeeper.com
 

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There is more than one kind of top bar and each has it's challenges. The Kenyan with sloping sides is the trickiest. It would be easier on you, IMHO, to start with a longhive, 48" long and the same inside size as a Langstroth deep frame. You can then use bars or frames or both in the same hive. I've built and used both kinds and just from the standpoint of ease to make and use, the longhive is better..My bars have sides (dowels) and some have bottoms. If you plan to mechanically extract you need both and if you go foundationless you need at least 3 wires per each bar. Where I use standard frames I use a cover like a political plastic sign to keep the girls down in the box. Good luck and Happy Beekeeping...It's a real adventure.
 

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TBB:

While I don't have any top bar advice for you, I did want to say welcome to the forum.

Best of success to you in your beekeeping efforts.
 
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