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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here in Michigan, my husband and I went out today to cut off some honeycomb from our top bar. Three combs that we pulled up fell, and smothered a ton of bees...mess in the bottom of the hive with honey everywhere. Near tears, I was. Then I also noticed larvae in the top of the comb from where it broke off. Is this a problem? Now I am worried the queen could have been smothered along with the thousand other bees. We scooped up what we could. What a mess. Is there an easy way to do this??
 

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Top bar hives need a gentle touch in my experience. Anytime something drops, possibly crushing the queen - you need to find her. If they are too upset, wait an hour or a day, but make sure she is still alive.
 

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Although I don't have [never worked with] a TBH, this is an interesting question that I actually never thought of before. Could you lift all the bars you want to harvest and put them on one side, with a follower board separating them from the rest of the hive? The follower board would have a bee escape of some kind on/near the bottom. I don't know if the bees would find that off to the side though. Using a brush to get the bees off the comb would work, but only if the comb doesn't fall off the bar,..right away,..:rolleyes:. I can't imagine cutting off some comb and letting it plop into a bucket with a lot of bees attached.

I looked in the TBH forum and not one thread/question was similar to yours; I quit after March of 2010. Maybe there is one.

>>"How is honey harvested from tbh's?
The combs are cut off or broken from the tb's after the bees have been removed by brushing or some other means." >> http://www2.gsu.edu/~biojdsx/tbhonhv2.htm#q1

>>"The tricky part imo is getting the top bars out in one piece without ripping the combs. If the bars are not spaced just right, the bees will interconnect the honey comb making the harvest more difficult. I had several combs rapture and a lot of honey spilled into the hive with bees getting stuck in it. I have been contemplating inserting a modified bee escape to reduce the stress on myself and the bees." >> http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=233012&highlight=harvesting+honey

>>"Removing bees from combs is a universal problem. Many discussions on here on the subject. I just brush them. Is it messy? Yes. Are lots of bees in the air? Yes. Does it work? Yes.

"Blowing, bee escapes (which would have to be modified to work on a TBH unless you use standard Lanstroth dimensions like my TTBH are), fume boards etc. are all methods used to remove the bees.

"Brushing takes practice. Use quick flicks. If you try to be gentle you'll roll the bees and REALLY make them mad. If you use quick hard flicks you can remove them with much less trauma and much less angry bees. A big goose feather or turkey feather makes the best brush. A soft yellow bee brush is next best." M. Bush. Beesource: 2005.>>
http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=207532&highlight=harvesting+honey

There's more, but I'll quit now. Do a search using "harvesting from TBH or top bar hives." in the TBH forum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Oldbee, thank you for that info., it is relieving and we will continue to read up on all the lit. Thanks so much. We have learned a lot by everything said here. It was a very humid day now that I think of it, lesson learned! A couple hours later they were bearding (at first we were afraid they were going to swarm), at least I think they were, well into the night. As of today they are all back in the hive. We will do as said, and wait it out a few days and open it up again and check the brood. We have a Langstroth, too. We wanted to try both and figure out what we ended up liking better. We have the 4.9 cell in the top bar, and in the Langstroth, we did 5.1 cell with a local package order. This has all been helpful, appreciate it.
 

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It really helps if your top bars have a vertical bar in the middle, making the bar sort of a "T". This stiffens/strenghtens them considerably.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
We have the vertical bar in. In fact, it seems very strong when we inspect the brood. But this was our first try at pulling up the honey. And I think we did a couple things wrong(among a few more things wrong, like dropping it!) - we pulled up the sixth or seventh bar in from the end on the honey side. So I am guessing that was freshest and I am assuming the wax is softer? Not to mention we were in a middle of a heat wave, and it was well past morning going on 1:30 by the time we were done.
 

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Newbee alert (me I mean)...I'm amazed at how heavy frames of honey are compared to even full frames of brood that have honey on the outside. Keep that in mind. The brood frames seem strong because the weight just isn't there. I know one of the appeals of a TBH is it's quick and generally less labor to construct, etc. Maybe in addition to the vertical rod you could connect wire in a V shape, start near the bar end, run down to the bottom of the rod and back up to near the other end of the bar. Notch the bar to hold the wire? Maybe nuts, just a thought. I wired my foundationless frames and it makes a huge difference I think.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the idea of the wire, that is a great idea, maybe it will work, it won't hurt to try.
 
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