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Is there any PA. TBH keepers in the house and if so is it hard to do the TBH thing here in N.PA?
My wife built me a TBH and I'm going to give it a shoot this spring so what is the pros and cons?


Thank you.
 

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Did she also happen to purchase a vacation home in some appropriate Malaria infested tropical climate where you could use it?

Not in ol Penns state but the biggest advantage I can see in this design is that the skunks will have a bit of a difficult time banging on the front door. Might also be the case that the raccoons could rip out the top bars as a disadvantage.
 

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Not sure what the big deal is about having top bar hives in the north. I have two and have overwintered both successfully for two consecutive years. They just went thru -44 actual and -56 wind chill last week, and were flying yesterday when it hit +40. They take a lot more attention than langs, and they are swarmy, but I enjoy having them. I also have langs, long langs, and a couple of warres. My opinion is the warres are the hardest to keep going.
 

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Why would a top bar hive be any different?
Think about how bees live in hollowed out trees. Almost always in a vertical cavity . If I can get posts from 20 out of a hundred of pics by people showing swarms living in horizontal cavities with combs built perpendicular to the ground before the tree toppled over I will be a believer.

The question is "what do the bees do when left to their own devices"????

Not to say it cant be done. The deeper the comb the higher I would suspect the overwinter success rate would be. Bees have a hard time moving vertically in the cold.. if the only food supply is to the left and right of them they are apt to starve out when the next nor-easter shows up.
 

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The question is "what do the bees do when left to their own devices"????
The only cut out I have been involved in in the last 20 years had bees in the soffit of a Church. That space had been occupied many times for 30 years. The combs were horizontally placed, w/ the brood between one set of rafter ends and the honey between another pair of rafter ends. Just an anecdotal case.

So, I would say that bees do what they wish when left to their own devices. They occupy the space they choose.
 

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Think about how bees live in hollowed out trees. Almost always in a vertical cavity . If I can get posts from 20 out of a hundred of pics by people showing swarms living in horizontal cavities with combs built perpendicular to the ground before the tree toppled over I will be a believer.

The question is "what do the bees do when left to their own devices"????

Not to say it cant be done. The deeper the comb the higher I would suspect the overwinter success rate would be. Bees have a hard time moving vertically in the cold.. if the only food supply is to the left and right of them they are apt to starve out when the next nor-easter shows up.
I do a lot of bee removal jobs, I find more bee's between floor joist, my largest removal was between rafters, 11 runs of comb 5ft long. I got 180lb of honey from them. I have remove 3 from walls in 6 years. I also gave a price on a removal where the bee's were in the floor joist, the house was 28ft wide bee's ran the whole span between the joist. Bee's will live any where they find.
 

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>Think about how bees live in hollowed out trees. Almost always in a vertical cavity .

I've seen many in horizontal, hollow limbs... granted the larger cavity typically is in the trunk, but they have no quamls occupying soffets and floor joists, and old car gas tanks, and old water tanks laying on the ground. I have removed as many bees that chose horizontal cavities as vertical cavities.

I've had bees in horizontal hives here in Nebraska and the survive at exactly the same rate as vertical hives. I have a top bar hive that has been continuously occupied by the same colony for the last five or six years with little to no intervention on my part. I would have intervened, but I've been too busy. :)
 

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I did a removal from a horizontal space this past year also in the "frigid north". It was the blackest comb I have ever seen. I don't know how many years it was there but it was several. Bees will do what it takes in the space they choose. They have a difficult time moving any direction when it is cold. In my opinion the key is the type of bee, and again my opinion is that carni's winter better for many reasons. I think the key with them is the very small amount of reserves they need to overwinter. They just don't move much. And they don't have a huge cluster. The key for the beekeeper with northern tbh's is to manipulate the combs in the fall so the cluster can only move in one direction for feed. My tbh's are made from 2x lumber so I don't insulate them, and they have upper entrances for ventilation. One of my tbh's produced almost 200# of excess honey last year. I am a "hobbiest" beekeeper and really enjoy the diversity of different hive types.
 

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The hardest thing for wintering a TBH is emergency feeding sugar. I make a frame and pour candy board into it. We have cold winters here, just not Montana cold, and my TBH is doing well in its second winter. In fact it was the only colony that survived last winter, the langs starved with honey next to the clusters.
 

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And the answer is.....The rot that hollows out a tree almost always starts in the trunk. So. Even the very rare large enough hollow limbs for bees to live in were mostly started in a hollow trunk. There just aren't that many hollow limbs...But tons of hollow trunks..
 

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the further north the harder it is to use a TBH. it can be done but it is harder. it is hard enough to winter bees up north without taking target practice at your foot.
 

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Because there are more hollow trunks than there are hollow limbs, I'm guessing?
I'm guessing also. Having a hard time following this analogy. Went from top bars up north, to where the rot starts in the tree. It would be real interesting to compare overwintered tbh's to other types by percentage of total hives of each in the north.
 

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My 2cents. I tried 2 TBHs for a couple years, died out each winter. Tried a long hive, it died during the winter. Langs beside them survived. They are here for free if you want them. I believe those bees in joists and attics, walls are warmed by the house/church and have an advantage over a TBH in the cold.
 

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I agree that the bees that share a heated dwelling with humans have a huge advantage. However, I've lost langs next to my TBH's. I think it is a never ending battle and boils down to what does the new or experienced beekeeper want. I would never discourage someone from giving any type of hive a try. All they need is encouragement and facts based on experience.
 

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The hardest thing for wintering a TBH is emergency feeding sugar. I make a frame and pour candy board into it. We have cold winters here, just not Montana cold, and my TBH is doing well in its second winter. In fact it was the only colony that survived last winter, the langs starved with honey next to the clusters.
Are you sure starvation was the cause, if they had honey within reach...?

And the answer is.....The rot that hollows out a tree almost always starts in the trunk. So. Even the very rare large enough hollow limbs for bees to live in were mostly started in a hollow trunk. There just aren't that many hollow limbs...But tons of hollow trunks..
Indeed, hollow branches tend to simply break and fall.
 

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I believe those bees in joists and attics, walls are warmed by the house/church and have an advantage over a TBH in the cold.
I wouldn't consider floor joist space heated unless it was between the first and second floors. Sofitts certainly aren't heated. Not where the church bees were.
 
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