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As long as the bees cannot get past it, it is all good, mine are flush with the tops of my top bars, but I only use them to dived a few hives in half. I do not use them as true follower boards.
 

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It's a good idea to have a 3/8 spacer on the last top bar against your follower and the first against the front of the hive. This will provide your bee space.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If I use a top entrance by putting a shortened follower as the 1st bar will I need a 3/8 space between the front wall and the follower and the follower and the 2nd bar?
 

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Don't over complicate it. Just place the first top bar 3/8" from the front for your entrance (I nailed little shims in the end of my hives to keep the first bar set back).
For the follower board, just nail a 3/4"x3/4"x(the width of your top bars) to the top of your follower board. Don't get to worried about bee space with it. If the bees are building comb that close to your follower, then you haven't given them enough room.
 

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As you cut bars, keep all of the little scraps of wood of various widths. These will be your spacers. Keep them handy in a watertight box, because you'll need them when putting the bars back in. (Thus, be sure that some of the total width is occupied by spacers.) Over the course of the season, as the humidity in the air rises and falls, the bars will naturally become looser and tighter.

The followers should fit snugly against the side of the box. And here's a handy trick: cut the follower slightly small (so that you can always insert it properly), then set it into the box and use some of those leftover (spacer) wood-scraps to take up the gap. Lightly tack the spacers in place on the hive-facing side, so that they press up against the sides of the hive box. The advantage to this is that they are adjustable. If there's a gap, however small, the bees will find it, and they'll set up shop on both sides of the follower.

Couple of other quick suggestions:

(1) Put a bar on top of the box, center it by eye, then note where the upturned edge of the hive-body naturally touches the bar. Now, with your table saw, cut a slight (about 1/4", say) kerf-line at that position, on one side only ("two" is unnecessary ...), on all your bars and your spacers. (I suggest doing this before cutting the bars out.) Now, you've made a natural "slot" that the edge of the box will drop into, allowing you to easily line-up all the bars and spacers: they just "snap" in place.

(2) As you're working your hive, be sure that at all times there is only one opening in the hive-ceiling that is formed by those bars: the one opening through which you are working. I have observed many times that the bees will become much more agitated, much more quickly, when the sunlight is coming into the usually-dark place from more than one slot, however narrow those "other" openings might be. I conclude that the bees (and this makes sense, I think ...) take this to be an indication that the integrity of the hive has been compromised, and they sound "general quarters" in the hive's defense. Whereas they tolerate one opening mostly with curiosity. As you work through the hive, press the bars completely shut before and behind you, using spacers if necessary, patiently sweeping the girls out of the way either with a bee-brush (recommended) or a bundle of pine-needles. Take your time, and pay particular attention to this.
 

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If I'm using 1 1/4" bars do I really need spacers? Or are you talking about when it's full it needs spacers?
When they start building out their honey bars they need them a little wider size to store more honey in. What i do is when they start producing honey bars is take a knife or hive tool and just make a little space between those honey bars making them wider without using a spacer. I don't like keeping track of those spacers when i don't need them. The bees will fill that space with propolis is a few days making the bars wider themselves. I can also increase the gap before they cap it and they can really pack the honey on a bar.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
When they start building out their honey bars they need them a little wider size to store more honey in. What i do is when they start producing honey bars is take a knife or hive tool and just make a little space between those honey bars making them wider without using a spacer. I don't like keeping track of those spacers when i don't need them. The bees will fill that space with propolis is a few days making the bars wider themselves. I can also increase the gap before they cap it and they can really pack the honey on a bar.
So, basically spacing will help with honey production? Is that why I see ktbh plans with 2 different sized bars?
 

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Well, they say it does ... I dunno.

However, I just find that when the humidity naturally rises and falls, the bars naturally loosen or tighten-up. So, I put a few spacers at various places along the line (I'm really not "scientific" about it ...) and I keep a box of spacers of various widths. When you pop a bar out, and need to put it back (as I said ...) very snugly, a spacer might be needed and the spacer that was in there might not easily fit back. Instead of spending time fighting with it, and possibly crushing bees, I simply grab a different spacer.

My experience has simply been that they generally make straight comb that follows your popsicle-sticks, but every so often you'll find two bars that are glued together and which have been built-upon as one. (Shrug ... que pasa.)

The only thing that I've found to be really important is that the hive should be completely level along both axes. Take a carpenter's level up there and carefully level it lengthwise and widthwise. (I simply use various-sized boards as shims for my hives, which, uhh, sit on top of cinder-blocks.) Check the level every now and again. Take the level directly from the true hive-ceiling, which is the top-bars when in place. That little bubble needs to be centered, no matter which way you point that carpenter's level.
 
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