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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a follower board that came with my top bar hive. However, it doesn't fit snugly in my hive. There is definitely enough space for a bee to pass through on the sides. What will the bees do with this? Part of me doesn't care too much if they find their way to the other (empty) side of the hive. But will it be a problem for them to get back? Do I have to worry that they will propolize the side of the follower board to the hive? Should I attempt to close the gap with a bit of foam glued to the follower board or something like that? (No bees yet)

This is why I like Phil Chandler's top bar hive plans. You build the follower boards first and then place the sides of the top bar hive against the boards to determine the shape of the hive. That way the follower boards fit snugly.

Next TBH I hope to build by myself, but I sure would like to make all the parts of this one fit. Any suggestions?
 

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Don't worry about it. The bees may propolise a little of the gap but most of it will probably be left open. Bees may wander over to the other side sometimes but will be able to find their way back.
 

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I built my own THB and it took me like 5 tries to cut my follower board just right. Luckily I had the extra wood. I was worried that even a little bee space around the board would allow the bees past it and that they would build comb in the back. Maybe you can staple some cardboard to the board to fix your gap?
 

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When I build my top bar hives the ends and the follower board are exactly the same size and shape. However, the wood sides are almost never perfectly straight so there is some gapping. With time, the wood sides always bow and warp a little. You should not have any problems with the small gaps. the bees will fill the holes if they don't like them. As the other responders said, you can use tape to cover the hole, foam rubber weather stripping works too. I have also seen the unused section filled with old cloths and towels for insulation. In some of my hives I intentionally put holes in it so the bees can reach the sugar water feeder I put back there for them. It is not my favorite design but it works just fine.
 

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I purchased my first hive and it came with two follower boards, both fit tight to the sides but one had a hole in it for the bees to pass through to the feeder. Over time the humidity difference from the bee side to the empty side warped the follower and some bees would get by and be trapped on the other side. The last one that I made I coated both sides with beeswax in hopes that it would prevent warping. The bees do propolize it if it is in place for a while but I see that as a good thing.

With the holey follower, one day I noticed a SHB larvae hiding in the small gap between the window and the follower. I also would see SHB taking refuge from the bees in the gap so I cut 3/8" off the three sides in the hive. This has worked great, it removes the SHB hiding place but still partitions off the unused part of the hive cavity. Bees tend to patrol it more and use the feeder more freely.
 

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It's best not to have tight fitting followers as wood will expand and contract depending on the humidity. If you really want to close any gaps it would be best to us a pliable material such as canvas tacked around the edge of the follower board.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Great suggestions! Thank you all for your wisdom. I think I will let the board be(e) for now and I have several ways to deal with it if it becomes a problem.

I have no plan yet on how to get bees in the hive. I recently set it out in my yard as is with some lemongrass oil to attract a passing swarm. Ha! Actually the top bars are 19 inches and will fit in my Langstroth box, so I may put a few in there next spring and see if the bees will fill it with brood comb. My daughter is getting married this fall, so my focus this year is producing honey for wedding favors.
 

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None of my hives have bee proof follower boards. In fact the gaps allow for SHBeetle patrols, as ColleenO noted. None of my hives has tried to close any gaps. I just use them to help my hived swarms feel they dont have an unmanagable area to guard. They have reduced absconding by the swarms. Eventually I remove them as the colony grows and fills the hive.

Just make sure your cover runs to the back of the hive. I use recycled plastic campaign political signs. [The losers generally accept offers to help remove their signs from public display;)] You can put some extra bars behind the follower board to allow roof weights to have a place to hold the top on. Plus, you have extra bars available to expand the hive when needed readily available.
 

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Follower boards aren't supposed to fit tight. If it fit tight there would be no way to let the hive breathe. The only reason for bees to want to build on the other side of it would be severe overcrowding or not moving it to keep ahead of new comb. The key is in the fall you need to pack the inside of the hive next to the follower board with straw. This helps wick up excess moisture while allowing the hive to breathe, but also keeps robbers out... Thats my take.
 
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