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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So it's been 50 days since install, and holy crap, they are drawing out the last two bars in the hive. No honey comb so far, and it's looking pretty darn cramped in there... I've seen beautiful brood patterns (when compared to what I see from others on what a good brood pattern should looks like) and they are multiplying like crazy. I had originally thought that my TBH was a lot shorter than what I've seen, but when I calculated the volume, it was right up there with the longer ones (this one is wider than most; it's the golden mean hive from backyard beekeeper). Here's what I think I'm going to do, but I'd like to get some advice.

I have a 10 frame lang that I want to split them into. I am first going to check for queen cells, but even if there aren't any, I can't seem to think they will ever NOT be cramped in there at some point. I was going to pretty much "cut out" the comb and rubber band it to the frames. 5 frames is what I've read I should be using, and in my part of the country, we'll be warm up until Oct/Nov, so they should make it (plus I can always feed them with my frame feeder). I'm only concerned because a) I've never split a hive and b)I'm not even sure if I SHOULD split them. Bottom line, I want what is best for them, but I really can't grasp how they are going to maintain themselves in the TBH considering the space I see them taking up at this point. should I split them? Too late in the year? Obviously, if I see swarm cells soon, I probably should, right? I'm just way to new at this to be confident. Thus far, they've controlled their environment, while I just watched and made sure they stayed on the bars in the right direction.
 

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So it's been 50 days since install, and holy crap, they are drawing out the last two bars in the hive. No honey comb so far, and it's looking pretty darn cramped in there... I've seen beautiful brood patterns (when compared to what I see from others on what a good brood pattern should looks like) and they are multiplying like crazy. I had originally thought that my TBH was a lot shorter than what I've seen, but when I calculated the volume, it was right up there with the longer ones (this one is wider than most; it's the golden mean hive from backyard beekeeper). Here's what I think I'm going to do, but I'd like to get some advice.

I have a 10 frame lang that I want to split them into. I am first going to check for queen cells, but even if there aren't any, I can't seem to think they will ever NOT be cramped in there at some point. I was going to pretty much "cut out" the comb and rubber band it to the frames. 5 frames is what I've read I should be using, and in my part of the country, we'll be warm up until Oct/Nov, so they should make it (plus I can always feed them with my frame feeder). I'm only concerned because a) I've never split a hive and b)I'm not even sure if I SHOULD split them. Bottom line, I want what is best for them, but I really can't grasp how they are going to maintain themselves in the TBH considering the space I see them taking up at this point. should I split them? Too late in the year? Obviously, if I see swarm cells soon, I probably should, right? I'm just way to new at this to be confident. Thus far, they've controlled their environment, while I just watched and made sure they stayed on the bars in the right direction.
I recall someone referring to the golden mean hive as the golden swarm machine (actually just looked... "Golden Swarm Thrower" was the verbage) based on how small it is... In any event, if you can make a nice even split with fresh eggs in the queenless portion... why not? That's more hives to possibly make it through the winter. You'll have to consult local folks as to exactly when your flow is around your part. We are just starting to get rolling well here from what I can see, but I know California can get very dry in the summer, so that's something to consider.

Best of luck and let us know how it goes! I'm planning on moving some of my TBH nucs into 10 frame deeps here in the coming weeks as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I recall someone referring to the golden mean hive as the golden swarm machine based on how small it is... We are just starting to get rolling well here from what I can see, but I know California can get very dry in the summer, so that's something to consider.
yeah, I starting to really believe it's too small.. maybe I'll end up splitting the whole thing into two new boxes, and the cut the current on open and expand it by 12-18 inches or so. . . I was getting a bit nervous a week and a half ago when they were already through 1/2 the space. They are seriously comb building MACHINES.

As for our "flow" we are actually in kind of a nasty drought right now, but there are a lot of flowers of the I-forget-variety and my hive seems to be very very active in foraging. Either way, I'll still feed the new colony.
 

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I'm not sure how the roof goes on the Golden Meanie hive, but I've been tinkering with a supered top bar hive. The "super" overhangs the brood area so the bees enter between the 2 boxes. The super is also just the top bars (no frames) but you could use frames if you wanted to. I put a package in mine this year, but have struggled with queen issues, so they are not building in the super yet. Still drawing out the bottom brood frames. I love my TBH's because they "grow bees". I've made 2 nucs for friends off of them and they are still going strong.

Here is a picture of my supered hive.
IMG_1855.jpg

IMG_2094.jpg

You might also check to see if you top bars fit inside a Lang box so you don't have to cut the comb out. Just alternate topbar with Lang frame to get them migrated over to the Lang., then you can put the drawn comb back into the TBH.
 

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Corwin's intent with the design of his hives is for them to swarm. Seriously. He wants to repopulate the feral bee supply. If you don't want them to swarm, I recommend you build your hives bigger. Four foot is about the minimum length for a good top bar hive that is being run for honey. Five doesn't hurt but doesn't come out as even on materials...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well, I planned on building a second one and adding length to it, but I didn't think I would need to do it so soon. I don't know if I'll be able to have the time to do it, so what I'll try to do it split them using the top bars into the lang (deep). I'll have to check if they will fit, and modify them if needed. That might be easier than cutting the comb out. . . Once they build on the lang frames, I'll put them back into the TBH and if they swarm, oh, well...

also, what do you think of building an 'extention' to the TBH hive and then cutting a hole for them in the back to use the space... either that, or build a custom sized 'super' to put on top and remove bars to allow them to enter the top portion? I really thought I did my homework, since I THOUGHT the hive box looked small. . . :-( I mean, the world wont' end if they swarm, but I don't want them to (yet). If they decide to swarm in the spring, I can accept that, but I'm not ready yet!!!

Oh, ETA: Thanks guys!
 

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>also, what do you think of building an 'extention' to the TBH hive and then cutting a hole for them in the back to use the space...

hard to get them to recognize it as part of the hive... but if they do they tend to put honey in there...

> either that, or build a custom sized 'super' to put on top and remove bars to allow them to enter the top portion?

Same issue. Since the bars don't have gaps you'll have to make some way for them to communicate and that will likely be limited which makes it difficult to get them to view this as part of the hive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
>also, what do you think of building an 'extention' to the TBH hive and then cutting a hole for them in the back to use the space...

hard to get them to recognize it as part of the hive... but if they do they tend to put honey in there...

> either that, or build a custom sized 'super' to put on top and remove bars to allow them to enter the top portion?

Same issue. Since the bars don't have gaps you'll have to make some way for them to communicate and that will likely be limited which makes it difficult to get them to view this as part of the hive.
Even if I "make" bee space size gaps for them to craw up through the bottom? bah-- I'll just throw them in the lang all-together and modify the five by knocking out the back and expanding the space...
 

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Problem with that is that it will violate the beespace in the bottom so they will probably close the gaps up rather than use them to move up.

ya.. making it longer will definitely be easier. joining the pieces with pegs or biscuits will make a pretty strong joint. pegs are easy enough to do if you don't have a biscuit jointer.
 

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>Even if I "make" bee space size gaps for them to craw up through the bottom?

You will have to make at least one if you do this, but they will fatten the comb and then you can't easily remove the gap you made...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well, I found out that I can fit my top bars in the lang with a tiny bid of modification... so what I'll probably do is just throw 5 top bars in there with frames in between and let them sort it out... But here's the question. do I put the queen in the langstroth so they will be able to grow faster, and then let the TBH make a queen to sort of slow them down a bit? I feel that would be the 'best' option, but I may be not thinking about the bigger picture here... Also is it a bad idea to WAIT for swarm cells to lessen the time to make a new queen?


ETA: once the lang is going strong, how careful do I have to be when I put the top bars back in the TBH with regards to the nurse bees that will be on them? Do I need to brush them all off? I've heard from some that you can mix nurse bees of different hives "with impunity" and others have had horrible wars break out.
 

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Well chances are the top bar combs will be built out to the shape of the lang. So it becomes a hack job to get them back in. I am going to try this very thing here soon. It may not be a big deal to cut the comb and put back into a TBH, but I don't know. It seems like a pain to me.
 

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Because you are worried about swarming in the TBH, then do take the queen over to the Lang. Due to drifting of existing bees, you may want to start out with ready to hatch brood bars in the Lang and move them back over as soon as they are hatched (leaving the queen something to lay in). You also want to shake in a fair amount of worker bees to the Lang (some of which will drift back to the TBH). The Lang also needs a bar of young open brood to give the nurse bees some purpose and hopefully there are some open areas for the queen to lay in. The TBH should have enough young eggs to make queen cells, and by removing the queen and a good amount of the brood, the remaining bees shouldn't feel the pressure to swarm.

The next few weeks will be a constant game of moving the TB frames back to the TBH and probably stealing one or two more out of there to the Lang. You may need to pick one that is full of honey and pollen and plan on leaving it in the Lang until they have started storing their own resources in the Lang frames. And as far as moving the comb back to the TBH, you should do your best to shake off the bees back into the Lang before the comb goes back over.
 

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Golden Mean Hives == too small!

I learned that lesson myself. I made 2 hives to those dimensions and now one is a bait hive and the other I use for splits.

Take the Golden Mean dimensions and tack a foot on the end (4' hive) and it's a pretty good size, but a strong hive can still fill it an swarm. The couple I made were 5' and so far the bees haven't filled the hive yet. Just a couple small combs at the end of the hive. I'd suggest going away from the gabled roof design though, it would be quite heavy and unwieldy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
When I split the hive, I'm probably going to go foundationless, but a few of my TBH frames are a little off center from being perfectly in line with the bar. Will they build foundationless faster than with? I need to get the girls a "boost" so I want whichever is faster at least for the bottom box.
 

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Will they build foundationless faster than with? I need to get the girls a "boost" so I want whichever is faster at least for the bottom box.
Everything I've read say they build them at about the same rate, but they're probably "happier" building cells the sizes they want and where they want them. I've been amazed at how fast they build natural comb (no foundation) but, as always, it depends on the bees, the weather, the temp, the ley lines and who knows what else.
 

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Michael Bush seems to think they will build faster without foundation. My only experience has been foundationless, so I can't give you any comparison. Of course, it's difficult to build up comb quickly if there is not a nectar flow going on. Plan on feeding them a very thin sugar water to get them to build. Usually if it's really thin, they don't store it like they do with the normal ratios of sugar to water. Right now I'm using 6 cups of water to 1 cup of sugar, along with a couple drops of anise oil in my feeder, and there is still quite a crowd at the feeder. I'm trying to build more comb so I am ready for the fall nectar flow.
 
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