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The poll on starting with top bar hives is interesting. My question is did you stick with too bars or have you changed as you got more sophisticated. I understand the draw it has, as I am considering it myself. It seems cheaper to get started. But as you grew in knowledge and experience, does top bar remain to have its appeal.

I am intregued by the argument that cell size is more resilient to disease. But if that is true, why don't they just make the foundation have smaller cells? I like the fact that you don't need to lift off supers to inspect or work in hives.

On the down side, you can't get Nucs to fit top bar because the dimensions are not consistent enough since do it yourselfers tend to make things their own way. Seems like Nucs are much more available that are package bees. Especially if you want some off season. It's mid July and I still can get Nucs. But package bees are long gone now in my area. With all the spits people do during build up there are a lot of Nuc opportunities.
 

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I am done with TB. Can't sell TB nucs in my neck of the woods.
 

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I started with two top bar hives, then the following spring expanded into Lang style hives. I still have the original TBHs, but future growth with be with the Langs.

I converted all my TBH swarm traps to hold frames.
 

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Had 2 last yr and they died out (my fault ) , I really liked them but I am off the package treadmill I planned to restock with swarms this yr but we didn't get any calls. My next swarm will go back into one

FWIW my langs died over winter as well. I simply split everything too much and then neglected to feed untill it was too late last fall
 

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I have a few top bars for my own amusement. I like to work them, and enjoy the difference in them. However for practicality ease of extraction, and overall production I prefer Langs. I never lift the supers to inspect, unless there is an obvious serious problem, in which case there is usually not much in the super. once the supers go on the bees are on their own until they come off. I believe you will find it that way with most beekeepers. I started wit langs so it is not a case of sticking with top bars, as using them. My care, treatment, management, and harvest methods all lend to langstroth hives and equipment.
 

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I started with TBs, second year now, and am planning on building more. They work for me, if I find a reason to try a lang, I will do that as well. I do get to play with a lang here and there with my bee club and helping out friends with theirs.
 

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I didn't because anything that is different is a pain in the backside. I've gotten rid of or modified everything - boxes, frames, covers, feeders, bottom boards, everything - that doesn't mesh with my standard equipment and cultural practices. I found that the odballs didn't always get what they needed when everything else did, because they required different actions or equipment and time is always a premium.

If I were doing it with topbars I would get rid of the odd langstroth equipment at this point too.
 

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I'm relatively new, but I'm using more of a horizontal hive (essentially a top bar with trapezoidal frames), has the benefit of movable frames, but a smaller footprint on the bottom so that you can have the advantage of the screen. I like them, but I'd probably do long langs if it wasn't for my dad using this other design and we need to be able to support each other with nucs occasionally. As a hobbyist who makes all of his own equipment this works just fine for me (and gives me an excuse to have a compound miter saw) If I was in production for honey or selling nucs I'd probably switch to langs since standard equipment is easier to manage with extraction as well as sales.
 

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>did you stick with too bars or have you changed as you got more sophisticated.

I run a couple of top bar hives and the rest are eight frame medium Langstroths.

> I understand the draw it has, as I am considering it myself. It seems cheaper to get started. But as you grew in knowledge and experience, does top bar remain to have its appeal.

It is more an issue of distance, time and scale. The top bar hive requires more frequent harvesting during a flow to keep it from swarming. Not practical in a distant yard.

>I am intregued by the argument that cell size is more resilient to disease. But if that is true, why don't they just make the foundation have smaller cells?

They do. Most of the suppliers have 4.9mm wax. Mann Lake has 4.9mm plastic frames. Several places stock 4.9mm fully drawn comb (Honey Super Cell).

> I like the fact that you don't need to lift off supers to inspect or work in hives.

For that you need a horizontal hive.

>On the down side, you can't get Nucs to fit top bar because the dimensions are not consistent enough since do it yourselfers tend to make things their own way.

You can build a top bar hive to Langstroth deep dimensions and use frames from a standard nuc or top bars. I have several.
 

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I am in year 4 of beekeeping and second year of trying top bars. I have expanded to 6 top bar hives and reduced to 2 Langs. I am not concerned with major honey production but much prefer working with the TBH. MY hives are all at my primary residence and I have a horse trail running next to the property. I get a lot of people riding or hiking past the property and they often ask about the top bar hives. Generally, they think they are the coolest thing they have ever seen. I frequently give these folks quick tours of the apiary and often will open up the back of one of the hives so they can look inside. It does not disturb the bees too much so they do not get alarmed. I could never do that with the Lang hive without getting suited up first. Surprisingly, and maybe not, the quick tours have resulted in numerous honey sales and lots of repeat customers. All of the neighbors and their kids have taken the tour too and are no longer worried about the bees flying around. The bottom line for me is that I find the TBH bees to be much more gentle than the Lang bees and rarely need smoke with them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I am in year 4 of beekeeping and second year of trying top bars. I have expanded to 6 top bar hives and reduced to 2 Langs. I am not concerned with major honey production but much prefer working with the TBH. MY hives are all at my primary residence and I have a horse trail running next to the property. I get a lot of people riding or hiking past the property and they often ask about the top bar hives. Generally, they think they are the coolest thing they have ever seen. I frequently give these folks quick tours of the apiary and often will open up the back of one of the hives so they can look inside. It does not disturb the bees too much so they do not get alarmed. I could never do that with the Lang hive without getting suited up first. Surprisingly, and maybe not, the quick tours have resulted in numerous honey sales and lots of repeat customers. All of the neighbors and their kids have taken the tour too and are no longer worried about the bees flying around. The bottom line for me is that I find the TBH bees to be much more gentle than the Lang bees and rarely need smoke with them.
So, which features of the top bar do you consider to be the factors that make the bees less aggressive? Would a long langstroth with frames without foundations give you the same result?
 

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I started with TBH's then tried some Langstroth's as well. I have both at this time and likely will remain using some of each. I don't see an issue with moving bees from one type to the other as it is easy enough to shake packages/shook swarms. Having several years working with TBH's I have become fairly efficient at working them and really enjoy the management of them. I do still favour my TBH's and run more of them compared to Langs. I think if I had started and learned the Lang system first I would likely favour them over TBH's
 

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So, which features of the top bar do you consider to be the factors that make the bees less aggressive? Would a long langstroth with frames without foundations give you the same result?
It's generally attributed to the fact that when you pop open a Lang, it opens the whole hive. With the top bar hive, you control the opening size and even with openings, the bars still create a "top" and you're exposing very little of the hive at once.

I just started this year, the plan was to have one hive at my brothers. We had a package struggle early and found another supplier and got another two packages. Those two did well, we nursed the struggling package back to life in top bar hives. Then I caught four swarms and put them in top bar nucs.

We currently have four hives in 4' top bar hives (Les Crowder design), one in a top bar nuc, and two in 10 frame deep Langs. We'll see which I prefer in a couple years. I kept Lang dimensions in mind when I picked a TBH design. Cut the top bars down to 19" or so and plopped them from the nuc into the 10 frame deep, they're building it out.

If you're not sure which, make sure your equipment is somewhat interchangable at the get-go.

They build them out pretty good into the Lang:
IMG_20140719_143503_409.jpg

IMG_20140719_143735_468.jpg

Will just have to watch for side attachments, but I'm planning on rotating the bars out and putting frames in their place as time goes on. Putting the top bars in the Lang makes it a bit of a pain to inspect, but it's not a big deal. I just wish I would have let a little more on the top bars. They are just barely wide enough. I'm going to have to do some modification to them so I don't lose them into the bottom of the hive.
 

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I believe, and it is just my opinion, that when you open the top of the TBH the only bees that notice the opening are those that are right there at the moment. It is a small opening, about 2 inches by 18 inches, and it does not send up the alarms. When you open up the top of a Lang, every bee in the hive knows the roof is now missing! With the TBH I run the hive tool under the top bar and on top of the box from front to back on both sides to loosen up the propolis. Then I do the same between the bars I want to inspect and slide the bars back as one unit, Thus, the roof stays closed for most of the hive and I can inspect what I want without too much disruption. I have a long Lang Hive I built last year but have not used yet. I believe you could get similar results but have not been able to confirm yet. My only concern is that you cannot slide the frames back as easily as you can with the top bars because they are wedged in the box (under the top of the frame and on the side of the top of the frame) and you cannot get the tool under the frames to "unglue" them as easily.
 

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I didn't because anything that is different is a pain in the backside. I've gotten rid of or modified everything - boxes, frames, covers, feeders, bottom boards, everything - that doesn't mesh with my standard equipment and cultural practices.

I am in the process of doing the exact same thing. Hopefully, I can fill all of the stuff that needs to get gone with bees and sell it in the spring.
 

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To answer the original question

I stuck w/ the HTBH and then got 3 more!

i think next spring i want to try the Warre Hive

Very excited about that!
 

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I started with langs and set up a tbh just for fun and to try another system. I am wondering if it wil over winter or not. I will keep it for interest not for production.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
This is interesting and very informative!

I am still wondering about taking the best of both systems and making a long Langstroth. If I used top bars with full frames to aid in straight combs and strength of the combs. But make them so they would go into a standard lang box for selling nucs. Wondering if you could just add top bars to a standard lang frame? To close the top gaps and aid in prying out the frames. Just thinking out loud here. Maybe I shouldn't try to reinvent the wheel before diving in? I have Dr mangum's book. He's got years of experience and success with TBH's.
 

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(Smile ...)

"Sophisticated?" "Knowledge?" "Experience??"

What could be more "sophisticated" than the knowledge which the honeybee clearly possesses? What do we say that we "know," when we put them into boxes that suit our own "farmer's convenience" and then bombard them with insecticides to "cure" their ills?

(No, I'm not humming "kum bah yah" here – I am "instead being totally and utterly practical," as I perceive it, and "may Your Mileage vary! This "works for me™," and "may God bless you.™")

Yes, I kept Lang hives for a number of successful but expensive years, then left beekeeping behind for a while. When I returned, three years ago now, I built four hTBH's (they're nothing to look at, and they sit on cinder-blocks in a grove of trees in the middle of a pasture ...) and ever since that time they've supplied me with all the honey that I want to eat and to give to a few of my close friends. My total investment in all of them was ... the price of 4 x 2 = 8 metal handles, and half a gallon of Thompson's Water Seal. (And a few glass jars ...)

And do I want "more honey than that?" No.

And that is "me," my little corner of the planet, my bees thereupon ... and that is all. Vive la difference!

I have a comfortable chair and a small wooden table beneath those same trees, and I love to walk up there and read a book as I watch the bees come and go. (Every now and then, one will land on the book ... I have "well-read" bees.) And that is "beekeeping" for me. I am content.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
(Smile ...)

"Sophisticated?" "Knowledge?" "Experience??"

What could be more "sophisticated" than the knowledge which the honeybee clearly possesses? What do we say that we "know," when we put them into boxes that suit our own "farmer's convenience" and then bombard them with insecticides to "cure" their ills?

Yes, I kept Lang hives for a number of successful but expensive years, then left beekeeping behind for a while. When I returned, three years ago now, I built four hTBH's (they're nothing to look at, and they sit on cinder-blocks in a grove of trees in the middle of a pasture ...) and ever since that time they've supplied me with all the honey that I want to eat and to give to a few of my close friends. My total investment in all of them was ... the price of 4 x 2 = 8 metal handles, and half a gallon of Thompson's Water Seal. (And a few glass jars ...)

I have a comfortable chair and a small wooden table beneath those same trees, and I love to walk up there and read a book as I watch the bees come and go. (Every now and then, one will land on the book ... I have "well-read" bees.) And that is "beekeeping" for me. I am content.
I was waiting for you to tell us that you snapped the book closed when the bees land. Lol.
 
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