Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi,

I'm currently planing how to build my hTBHs. Most of the details I have down, or actually I copied them from Phil Chandlers and other books. Yet I struggle with isolation and ventilation.

Having looked at other TBHs I got the impression I'm overthinking this.

I planned for a 4* inch roof, filled with something similar to rockwool but made out of wood fiber. I'm going to cut the topbars from 1 1/2 x 2 9/32 * inches stock - mostly because that's what's available in the local hardware store that has the appropriate width.

For the bottom I planned going with a 'Phil Chandlers' eco floor. Basically a wire mesh floor filled with wood shavings - mostly because of it's isolating, yet still moisture absorbing, qualities.

Then I saw the build plans from Wyatt Mangum. His roof is basically just a piece of sheet metal with a 2x4 spacer and when it comes to ventilation if the 6 entrances holes aren't enough he just prob up the first (unused) top bar a bit.

His hives are in Virginia, mine in the lower half of Germany. Looking at climate data it seems like Virginia is about 4 - 8 degree C (40 - 45 F ?) warmer than at my location and gets about twice as much rainfall.

So I'm overthinking this, aren't I? Thick top bars and an isolated roof with 5cm rockwool or maybe a ventilated roof would be enough for isolation. And for ventilation another top bar with small holes added in spring would suffice, wouldn't it?

Regards
Ben

// Full disclosure: This is mostly a cross post from Phil Chanlders Forum at: https://biobees.com/mybb/thread-132.html - yet that forum doesn't seem to get much traffic, so I transfered my question here.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,313 Posts
Not much traffic ? Can't say I'm surprised.

I once made a KTBH. I'm not going to bad-mouth that type of hive, as it does have some redeeming features - but I will bad-mouth the absurd idea of Chandler's "eco floor". This idea - like so many others - is predicated upon a notion that the 'tree cavity', especially as shown in idealised form in Seeley's observational study of tree nests, should be used as a template upon which to base beehive designs. It seems never to occur to such 'beekeeping gurus' that bees may have survived for millennia despite living in such cavities, and not because of them.

Yes - I bought in to this eco-floor b/s myself during my brief flirtation with KTBH's, and quickly discovered that harbouring detritus at the bottom of a beehive is a guaranteed way of breeding a huge number of wax-moths.

Are you over-thinking this ? You certainly are. A brief history ...

The development of the iconically shaped KTBH had nothing whatsoever to do with Kenya, but was the invention of two Brits, Tredwell and Patterson, in 1965.
This design was then chosen by some Kenyan students at the University of Guelph (Toronto) during 1970, as being suitable to take back to their home country in order to provide a basic beehive for peasant farmers who operated under primitive conditions, without access to the woodworking machinery necessary to make modern framed hives.

Yet for some strange and obscure reason, this design has been seized upon by the Natural Beekeeping Movement, despite the keeping of bees itself being an unnatural human activity, with the keeping of bees in hives with removable combs being even more 'unnatural'.

The modern Top Bar Hives we see today were only ever intended to be a crude, quick and easy solution to the making of a structure suitable for the housing of honey-bees. It was a design chosen for pragmatic, principally economic reasons, with the welfare of bees not being a consideration.
They were never, ever, intended to be a design requiring precision of any kind, and where slight adjustments of measurements or ratios could then lend themselves to some bogus claim of 'perfection'.

So - if you remain intent upon building a h-TBH (seeing as you're in Germany - suggest you take a look at the 'Die Bienenkiste' beehive design first), I'd suggest you just knock-up a box, and string some 32mm (1 1/4 inch) wide bars across it's top. Then insert 1/4 inch spacers between them towards the stores end as and when required. Place some serious insulation (3-4 inches) over the bars, and cover the lot with something to keep the rain off. Then put some bees in there and see if Top Bar Beekeeping really is for you. It may or may not be.
If it is - great - if not, then do bear in mind that there are more beehive designs out there to choose from than you can shake a stick at.
'best,
LJ
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Hi,

thanks for the reply. I'll guess in the end it's then down to just give it a try.

Just to clarify: I'm not looking into TBH from a 'natural beekeeping movement' point of view. Of course I'm interested in what's best for the bees, but the reason for the TBH is more economical. I currently have 16 hives in dadant boxes, mostly 12-frame boxes but also some self build long hives. Those hives are all located quite a bit away, as my property is to small to keep bees on - at least if I don't want to annoy the neighbours. That also means I don't have a lot of storage room - especially none that doesn't heat up consideralby in the summer. So moving and storing supers and drawn out frames or starter stips is becoming quite a problem.

The TBH would solve this as there are no supers and the top bars just take a line of wax - even if those melt it would still be mostly in place if stored upside down.

The Bienenkiste I know, but I do not like those immovable combs. Hard to do any of the necessary things. Beside those hives need to be flipped over when inspected. That requires heavy lifting and causes quite confusion for the bees as things are suddenly not where they used to be. Both things I like to avoid if possible. I had several Mini+ hives for queen rearing. Those have 6 small frames (half dadant honey frames) per box and of course many boxes above them. They are great for their indent purpose but for inspections you have to deal with a lot of frames and put the boxes aside, causing lot's of bees to fly around in confusion. And if you take to long some of those bees ponder if stinging the honey thief might be a viable course of action.

The long hives showed how much more comfortable working the hives can be if you don't have to lift the supers of. Feeding is so much easier - just prepare the sugar water in a 10 L (2,5 Galon) bucket and put it behind the follower board and switch the entire bucket next time. Inspections are calmer - yet that has probably more to do with having a piece of cloth on top of the frames, so when you remove the lid you don't have quite a number of bees wondering where the roof has gone and what that pesky smelling mammal wants all of a sudden. Storage is also great - need somewhere to put additional frames? Just put the at the other end of the box and they are ready when you need them. The bees will keep the box reasonably cool in summer so that the wax doesn't melt on those frames.


Of course there are things that can't be done, or at least are much more difficult. Moving the hives is a nightmare with long hives and TBH - but I'm not doing this, so not a thing of concern for me. TBH are considered to produce less honey than typical supers, I can live with that.

But I digress! Again, thanks for the answer, it clarified that yes, I do overthink this. Good isolation above the bars, additional vent bars in spring and it should at least be good enough so that it doesn't end in total disaster and I can adjust in the future if necessary.

Best Regards
Ben

// Edit:
To clarify why I don't go with more long hives. They still require some heavy lifting, because the lid and the inner cover is quite well insulated and those quite heavy. While trying to solve that problem, I came across a commerical beekeeper over here who uses TBHs. His reason was so he hasn't to deal with frames - especially melting and cleaning them at the end of the season. That's seemed reasonable, so that's what brought me to TBHs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,313 Posts
Ben - I owe you an apology. I had assumed (always dangerous ...) that you were a beginner, looking at the building of a KTBH through rose-tinted spectacles, :) but it seems you have some mileage under your belt.

Sure - economical is their big strength. I recently watched one of Sam Comfort's videos in which that was exactly the reason he gave for going down the KTBH route - he needed a large number of cheap hives in a hurry - and they fitted the bill perfectly.

Like you, I love working long hives. A nuisance if they need to be moved, but that's more than compensated by the ease of expanding/contracting their size, and ease of inspections. Have you considered making framed long hives rather than h-TBH's ? Best of both worlds, imo.

Re: the Bienenkiste - I agree 100% with your comments. At the moment I'm close to commissioning a hive which is a hybrid between a framed version of a Bienenkiste (that is, with the frames running lengthwise along the box) and a 'horizontal' 5-box Warre. Hopefully it will solve the management needs of the Long Hive AND the box-swapping requirement of the Warre design. It will also enable replacement of removed frames to their EXACT previous position with millimetric accuracy (an area in which I've always thought removable-frame beehives were deficient), and as a bonus will 'lock' those frames into place so that their movement during transportation becomes impossible. Jeez - I really must get a hobby :)

Ok - TBH's - yes, I'd recommend that you make one without giving it too much thought at this stage - as they were always intended as a QD (Quick'n'Dirty) solution to a problem. But - it's almost as quick to build a framed horizontal. If you were to dimension such a hive to accommodate your existing frames, then one hive type could directly support the other.
'best.
LJ

... just seen your edit. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Again, thanks for the reply. I guess the only thing left is to start building then and post a view pictures when the first hive is done :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
So, I've build the first two hives. Well almost, didn't have enough paint for the second one. Here are some pictures - the brown one is the prototype and the blue one is, so to speak the first production model. I've changed a few things from brown to blue: The blue one uses zinc-coated steal instead of aluminum for the roof, as I found out that aluminum can be just as bad as plastic. I also removed the tilt of the roof as that simplifies the build quite a bit. Both hives are painted in an environmentally friendly paint that is approved by local associations for organic farming. The brown hive should have been red in color, but I guess there was something wrong with the batch of paint as there's no way someone would call that color red.

I've also build hive stands for those, so I don't need feet on the hives themselves. Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures. I'll add those later on.

IMG_20201031_150547.jpg IMG_20201021_193107.jpg IMG_20201021_193043.jpg

Planing on the exact dimensions took quite some time. In the end I build so, that I could get the 10 liter buckets I used for feeding into the hive and also don't have many offcuts when making the top bars. Coincidentally I ended up with more or less the same dimensions as Dr. Mangum uses for his hives.

The hives have 1.2 meters (not quite 4 feet) inner width, 49 cm (bit more than 19 inches) top bar length and about 20 degree slope on the walls.
The floor is closed and glued in, the holes are 22mm in diameter so they fit wine corks quite nicely.
The topbars are cut from 38x58mm stock so they are about 1,5 inches thick after cutting the triangular shape onto them. I use a brush to paint on a strip of wax which works fairly well and seems a bit less work than cutting foundation into starter strips and fixing those into frames.

I need about a long day of work in the shop to complete one hive including all top bars. Not as fast as I like to, but I quess I can optimise that a little bit with better jigs and shop organization.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,083 Posts
Hi,

I'm currently planing how to build my hTBHs. Most of the details I have down, or actually I copied them from Phil Chandlers and other books. Yet I struggle with isolation and ventilation.

Having looked at other TBHs I got the impression I'm overthinking this.

I planned for a 4* inch roof, filled with something similar to rockwool but made out of wood fiber. I'm going to cut the topbars from 1 1/2 x 2 9/32 * inches stock - mostly because that's what's available in the local hardware store that has the appropriate width.

For the bottom I planned going with a 'Phil Chandlers' eco floor. Basically a wire mesh floor filled with wood shavings - mostly because of it's isolating, yet still moisture absorbing, qualities.

Then I saw the build plans from Wyatt Mangum. His roof is basically just a piece of sheet metal with a 2x4 spacer and when it comes to ventilation if the 6 entrances holes aren't enough he just prob up the first (unused) top bar a bit.

His hives are in Virginia, mine in the lower half of Germany. Looking at climate data it seems like Virginia is about 4 - 8 degree C (40 - 45 F ?) warmer than at my location and gets about twice as much rainfall.

So I'm overthinking this, aren't I? Thick top bars and an isolated roof with 5cm rockwool or maybe a ventilated roof would be enough for isolation. And for ventilation another top bar with small holes added in spring would suffice, wouldn't it?

Regards
Ben

// Full disclosure: This is mostly a cross post from Phil Chanlders Forum at: International Natural and Balanced Beekeeping Forum - yet that forum doesn't seem to get much traffic, so I transfered my question here.
TO learn, I suggest your install a weather station measuring temperature and relative humidity above the frames. Protected from bee propolis but ventilated to the cavity. I use canvass which gets propolized ( another discussion). I currently use La Crosse with a 300 foot transmission distance. Then correlate values for a year with hive observations and performance. I love seeing hive data on the fireplace mantle, in the middle of a snow or rain storm, with a cup of coffee. The more interesting data comes with the spring transistion. This year I am going to try and measure two locations within a hive or at least 8 hives to get comparative data.

I now use the scheme to evaluate hive insulation, ventilation ( no top vents now) and provide hive warnings while insulating all year. This will be my third year doing this - getting more accurate sensors is expensive. Use data and observations to drive your decisions.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,042 Posts
As promised a picture of the hive stand.

View attachment 61234
It is a very clever stand - in that you can right it to be level on most any terrain.
It does look somewhat flimsy so to trust it with very heavy hives.
If a single leg gives - there will be a major problem under live usage.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
I'll test each of those stands with what I like to call the 'Fat Ape Test'. After construction I let a fat ape - aka me - climb on the hive stand. To my equally great pleasure and embarrassment, those hive stands support at least 200 lbs without any flex. I also test the legs regularly in the apiary by accidentally falling over them. Besides the small heart attack I get form almost falling face first into an open hive I didn't had any problems so far, yet an occasional check for rot on the legs is a good idea. The versions in the picture can be fitted with two legs per corner, also that might interfere a bit with the leveling ability on rough terrain as legs on opposing sites might bump into each other.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
370 Posts
I am hoping to give these a try when I have my own house.
I plan on long hives so my current frames fit inside but I will still be foundationless.
Stands will be Cinder Blocks/concrete blocks as it will keep solid in case of rains or when winter thaws and things get muddy
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top