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Hello Beesource Community, specifically you Top Bar folk,

Please Allow me to introduce myself. I have been a longtime reader of Beesource but have never really posted.

Name: Scott Jorgensen
Location: Contra Costa County, Bay Area California. Plant zone 9b
4 years beekeeping experience in West Africa and California
4 years experience using KTB systems.
Operation 15 hives and growing. 10 are in KTBs and all new ones will be in KTBs

I have recently launched a business making and selling and consulting for KTBs in he Bay Area. I use many methods exemplified by Dr. Wyatt Mangum of North Carolina. Please visit www.herculesbees.biz to learn more about what I am trying to do.

I have an interest in this Forum. feel free to private message me.

Thanks!

-Scott
 

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Welcome!

Since you're a top bar guy with some experience, I have to ask you: what advantages does a KTB have over a horizontal Langstroth hive, other than the added cost of frames over top bars? I built a KTB when I was just starting out, but then I put my first bees in a horizontal hive and it worked so well that I never got around to using the KTB.
 

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Hello Ray,

I like horizontal hive systems because they are easiest on my back muscles. I have found that making my top bars with a foundation guide for comb is a good amount of work, but still less work than gluing, nailing, and wiring foundation (I really dislike plastic foundation). And yes, it is cheaper too.

Frames are fine, they keep the comb contained. I think that your question is better suited towards the KTB versus straight-sided top bar hive debate. With the sloping sides of the KTB, the bottom comb edge is narrower, of course. I have found that the bees are better able to keep their bottom comb's edge straigter, and thus structurally stronger, in a KTB. With the very long bottom edge of comb in a straight sided top bar hive, it can get wavy and is more prone to breakage when heavy with honey.

those are my two cents. I hope that you get some bees in your KTB this year and start playing around with it.

Best Regards, Scott
 

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For me its cost, cost, and cost. I build my hives and bars from recycled barn wood and cedar fence pickets. My only cost is electricity, woodscrews, glue, and popcycle sticks. I use recycled political campaign signs as lids. I trap swarms with recycled wood swarm traps. They have top bars so transfer to a hive is simple. So given the expense of Langstroth equipment, why use them?

TxBeek

PS. Sorry if ive hijacked your thread Scott
 

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Scott, my horizontal hives are foundationless. The reason I decided against the top bar hive was the possibility of comb attachment. Every account of top bar beekeeping I read seemed to involve cutting comb loose from the box. As a beginner, I didn't want that extra difficulty, even though I really liked the idea of a hive that was entirely and easily accessible without moving boxes. I also have Langstroth hives in 8 frame equipment, but I just don't like them as well as the long hives.

Given foundationless frames, can you see any advantage that top bar hives have over horizontal hives, other than the cost of frames? I've read several accounts of folks who took up top bar beekeeping, and quit in frustration over the issue of comb management.
 

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i run a few of both. i love TBH's til no end but, for honey production it seems the lang does better. i am a strong advocate for more backyarders and i definitely try and steer new beekeepers and hobbyists with gardens towards top bar hives. especially older folks. this will be my first year venturing in to selling tbh nucs and already have a few locals waiting.

welcome to beesource Scott !
 

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Given foundationless frames, can you see any advantage that top bar hives have over horizontal hives, other than the cost of frames? I've read several accounts of folks who took up top bar beekeeping, and quit in frustration over the issue of comb management.
I have three TBH's, built mostly after Michael Bush's plans. I get very little comb attachment. Only a half inch to an inch on both sides of the comb attaching it to the sidewall, about an inch down from the top. It is very easily cut with a bread knife before moving the comb. No much different than the prying of a Langstroth frame, from the body, to remove it. Maybe, because I do not know any different, I never saw comb management as being all that difficult, or frustrating. I have inspected a Langstroth hive twice, and found it more of a pain in the butt! :) Take the lid off the box, pry out a frame, all sticky. Figure out where to put that first frame so you have room to get to the next one, where to put the first box so you can do the same thing to the second one. Now I have two boxes, and two frames laying around somewhere, etc. :lookout:
 

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I have three TBH's, built mostly after Michael Bush's plans. I get very little comb attachment. Only a half inch to an inch on both sides of the comb attaching it to the sidewall, about an inch down from the top. It is very easily cut with a bread knife before moving the comb. No much different than the prying of a Langstroth frame, from the body, to remove it. Maybe, because I do not know any different, I never saw comb management as being all that difficult, or frustrating. I have inspected a Langstroth hive twice, and found it more of a pain in the butt! :) Take the lid off the box, pry out a frame, all sticky. Figure out where to put that first frame so you have room to get to the next one, where to put the first box so you can do the same thing to the second one. Now I have two boxes, and two frames laying around somewhere, etc. :lookout:
at first,Langs seem a bit combersome. but after some practice you get your routine down. personally as a lover of all things Bees (obsessed basically hahaha) i love working in both styles for different reasons. mainly in Langs its because of the great and easy colony manipulations you can do to a colony. nucs are simple and standardized, i scratch build all of my own narrow frames, the comb in a Lang frames is beautiful and queen rearing beginning to end is easier i think. in a tbh its about up close with ur bees. and the temperaments are polar opposites.

pros and cons of both. i still think TBH's should be pushed more for backyarders though :)
 

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pros and cons of both. i still think TBH's should be pushed more for backyarders though :)
I plan on playing with Langs in the future, I do think there are good reasons to use them as well. I agree with the backyarder thing too. I would hate to try and move mine around, even if I took the legs off of them. I had three TBH's last year. Built six more for this year along with six Nucs, and a small model TBH for my bee club. I have found that building my own stuff to match my hives is the only way to go. I even have pieces cut for 7 swarm traps that match my TBH's. Still trying to figure out how to build a pollen trap or two?
 

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I plan on playing with Langs in the future, I do think there are good reasons to use them as well. I agree with the backyarder thing too. I would hate to try and move mine around, even if I took the legs off of them. I had three TBH's last year. Built six more for this year along with six Nucs, and a small model TBH for my bee club. I have found that building my own stuff to match my hives is the only way to go. I even have pieces cut for 7 swarm traps that match my TBH's. Still trying to figure out how to build a pollen trap or two?
Uh lets see pictures PLEASE or it didn't happen lol
 

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Maybe i have been very lucky, but i have almost no sidewall attachment. I have had some crooked comb, which is easy to correct by pushing back into allignment. But i use comb guides on my bars to get started.

I cut a kerf on my initial bars and glue popcycle sticks into the groove. I then melt wax along the sticks with a soldering iron and a chunk of wax. I then put those in my swarm traps. But once I hive a swarm by moving the bars they have drawn comb on, i just place empty plain bars between drawn comb bars and the bees space the new combs right down the middle of the plain bar.

On a cutout, i do use comb guide bars which the bees religiously follow.

I did have a major crosscomb issue when i had some comb collapse and didnt know it for a while. The bees started building comb around the fallen comb, which got them off track. But it was all honey or empty new comb, which i harvested and they are now back on track. I now know the hive entrance signs that signals bee panic from comb collapse, co can intervene much sooner.

I would concede that thh require more active supervision and intervention, but my hives are in and right behind my backyard, so i monitor them daily. They are so used to people that i can mow and weedeat around them on nice days without any protection. My daughters regularly feed them honey and syrup from their hands 2 feet from the entrance. We also have an 18 foot above ground pool that i have an old float tied to the side to water the bees. We swim and save any bees that fall into the pool with our hands. We also determined the average time for a bee to fill with water is 30 seconds. You can really notice the water load when they take off to leave the pool. They dip low over the side and then gradually gain altitude on their way back to their hive. When coming to get water, they fly straight down fast to the float. They also wait in line at preferred water areas on the float.

TxBeek

TxBeek
 
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