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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Non Commercial Top Bar Beeks, Especially those who want home/family/gift use honey,not Intending to sell unless surplus happens and it's a yard sale or weekend market or some such .....

How much honey are you harvesting? or Average if you've done this for many years. I'm real curious about how backyard and homestead beeks with very FEW hives are doing. Please state the SIZE of your hive(s) and your location too and if it's a good or poor flow year........ OR simply how much honey you get if you arn't wordy like me! ;) THANK YOU! HB

My data -This is my Second year as a beek. I have Carniolan and Carnie mutts.
I got 13 lbs so far in a good flow year from a 3 foot hive in zone 8,southern Oregon (dry wooded area,some fields and gardens scattered and open rolling hills beyond) from the mutts. Unsure if I will harvest more this year from that hive. That hive is my only 2 year old hive.

PS- My longer hive (4 ft)was new this year,with Carniolans,and I've gotten 4 lbs so far and am due to inspect soon and probably need to make queen space again.
 

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2nd year with only top bar hives and my bees are still building comb, as I have gone from 1 partly filled hive last fall (11 drawn bars) to 3 hives with 2 nucs, plus I grew and sold an 8 bar nuc to a friend.

I also had queen issues in early spring which greatly depleted the number of bees. If all my 3 hives were full of drawn comb by spring and I had no queen issues, I would expect to harvest at least 6-8 bars of capped honeycomb from each hive, if not more. As it was, I harvested small patches of honeycomb so I could taste the different types of honey.

I do plan to experiment with a queen excluder placed 1/2 way down my box so Her Majesty doesn't lay up all 28 bars with brood. I have 3 evenly spaced entrances on the long side of the hive so the worker bees will be able to access the other 2 holes to pack away the nectar. The hives started with a primary hole at one end and that is where most of the traffic goes anyway.

13# is considered a small harvest compared against Lang boxes which make about 60# per hive. Topbar hives are usually harvested one or two bars at a time so you don't have all the "mess" of an extractor and uncapping tank, etc. You also end up with more beeswax for crafts. If you are only measuring the top bar hive results by the amount of honey they product, you will be disappointed. I would think you would want to look at the entire experience of the topbar hive vs. the Lang. (mine has a long window in it, and that has a huge value for me and I don't use a smoker or chemicals). If your primary purpose is to maximize honey production, you may want to switch to the Lang.
 

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I'll take a look at the bars at either end of the hive and, if I see one that's capped and full of honey, I'll help myself to it. After checking that there are several others nearby.

That one (or two) bar(s) will nicely fill-up several little jars with truly-delicious honey. That's all I need, so that's all I take.

And, as cool Fall weather approaches, all of their accumulated resources are theirs for the coming winter. (Fortunately, our winters are typically mild, with just a few nasty days.) As the nights grow "nippy," I'll insert a wine-cork or two into one of the three wine-cork-sized entrance holes.

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Frankly, I wouldn't fool around with a queen-excluder nor anything else. The natural (three-dimensional) shape of a honeybee colony is that the brood will be toward the inside/center, with honey-only on the ends. It's important to bear in mind that it is a three-dimensional shape, not confined to any "bar" or comb. You can be reasonably sure that bars on the ends of a normal-sized hTBH will contain only honey. (And, I say, if it contains brood, "it's not yours.")

I'm not doing this to "grow a 'crop.'" I'm doing it to enjoy some of the most marvelous honey I've ever tasted ... it's different every year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ruthiesbees : 13# is considered a small harvest compared against Lang boxes which make about 60# per hive. Topbar hives are usually harvested one or two bars at a time so you don't have all the "mess" of an extractor and uncapping tank, etc. You also end up with more beeswax for crafts. If you are only measuring the top bar hive results by the amount of honey they product, you will be disappointed. I would think you would want to look at the entire experience of the topbar hive vs. the Lang. (mine has a long window in it, and that has a huge value for me and I don't use a smoker or chemicals). If your primary purpose is to maximize honey production, you may want to switch to the Lang.

Why did you put this on a thread that I started ONLY for small set-up Top Bar beeks?

My first post right here was a "blow up" and I'm sorry if ruthiesbees or anyone read it. I adore my top bar hives ONLY,have NO interest in big production or langs and thought I was so clear about that..........................
 

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I don't harvest much. I pulled a little over a gallon last weekend. I was given a ripe queen cell so decided to do a split today. I could have pulled off another gallon from the one hive and I think they would have been fine for the winter. But I don't need the honey and I would rather have it there in the spring for early splits and big growth in April. I feed very rarely, this year I haven't fed anything at all, but I will start feeding my Langs to get them to winter weight.

If I wanted a better honey crop I would do better by moving to a more productive honey producing area first, and then moving to all Langs. For me this is a hobby, so it is OK if I don't make any money on it. But the people I really like know it since those are the ones that get honey, and I give it to them.
 

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Happy Beeing, I look forward to being able to answer this question eventually! Maybe this fall, most probably not to next spring.

FWIW, I appreciate the frame around your question. I am curious, too, about the experiences of backyarders, and especially TBHs. Not too many of us in my neck of the woods, and a few huge outfits (I am literally just a few miles from Dadant in High Springs!), and there is so much variation of how/when people collect honey. I've managed to try some off a broken comb, and it was delicious! Light and sweet.
 

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We have a TBH booming with bees, but almost no honey. They started as an installed swarm this spring, with 16 bars or so of honey and no brood; now they are about 18 bars of brood, 1 partial bar of honey and 4 or so bars unbuilt. We're gonna have to start feeding them so they can stock up. So: no honey this year.
 

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First year it is unlikely that you will get honey. A realistic goal the first year is to get them drawing straight comb and making it through the winter. In the spring on an overwintered TBH you can see rather fantastic hive growth.
 

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That thread is full of Lang people talking about frames and commericial people. I wanted JUST the "little guys" with top bars to speak and not get buried For Once!
You're right- I originally started that thread in the TBH forum thinking I would get only TBH responses. I'm mostly interested in how the small/hobby TBHers are doing as well.

I averaged about a gallon per overwintered hive (3) this year and am likely done harvesting unless things pick up again. This is my 2nd season.
 

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First year it is unlikely that you will get honey. A realistic goal the first year is to get them drawing straight comb and making it through the winter. In the spring on an overwintered TBH you can see rather fantastic hive growth.
This is my goal and most fervent wish! Beekeeping is an excellent way to practice patience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
THANK You to those who posted. I get to feel "at home" with your types of comments and I've enjoyed them very much.

I got a huge surprise from This year's package of Carnies in a 4 ft TB/19" bars....8.5 lbs of honey! They have twice that amount STILL IN THERE too and I haven't fed them since early Spring! I'm so amazed and delighted. It's been hot and dry but apparently they've had Lots of natural forage like our manzanita and blackberries. That hive is a wonder. I'd named it "Clover Hive" but now I'm calling it "CloverJoyed" giggle.

Last year's package I had brood/honey mix (like many of you) until winter reducing when I had to leave all the full combs for them.That 3' hive did well for me Spring and summer this year though when I "worked" it and split it instead of letting it swarm. BTW No one Cares about swarms AT ALL in MY "poor" rural area of acreage homes-in-the-woods/fields, so I don't feel irresponsible having a 3 footer(yes Shannon I've read All your posts about them for 2 years and Agree they are NOT good for "backyards"! ;) ) I was Thanked once for having bees here by one of the few other gardeners down the road. Nice. This area is Big on "no gmo" and "no pesticides" and "save the pollinators". he/he. I enjoy that attitude.

Anyway..........THIS year's package has totally different behavior than last years,moderate building and steady instead of gangbusters,plus,I made space for the queen up Front, 3 or 4 times. They actually began building full honey-only combs in June : one in the front and several in the back. Yesterday I found a partial collapse(half comb slid under another plus fat comb filling the space the half came from) which was how I ended up harvesting So much. I could have taken it anyway though. I Really am amazed how much they've socked away Already with about 2 months of good weather still to go(give or take a couple of weeks).

My "goals" for having bees were several. I needed pollinators for my mini orchard of 12 fruit trees because I saw so few bees in the Spring it really Bothered me, and I thought it would be Great fun for me since I've Never been afraid or allergic to them. Also I use honey daily in my tea or coffee,make sun tea,do some canning and baking ahead for the freezer and generally avoid white sugar. I wanted to find out if I could "never buy honey again" and my hope was for 2-4 gallons. I think it's going to work out.

Now my goal is to "never buy bees again". Not sure if I'll end up with 3 or 4 hives but the real goal now is to always keep them alive ....or ONE at the least....over the winter! I'd be crushed if all 3 of my colonies died....it's just getting Too expensive. IF that ever happens the old hives will all be "bait hives" and I'll be praying a lot!!! HB
 

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I had a neighbor thank me, too! He's quite pleased because last year's summer garden got all blossoms, but not fruit/veg: this year, he's bursting with squash. Now, it I can just keep the hive going so I also don't have to buy bees again...(we need an emoticon with clasping hands!)
 

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Lovely post, HappyBeeing! I'm hoping next year, we'll be able to taste a little honey from our two hives. Anything beyond that will be gravy (or honey, as the case may be).
 

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My neighbors favorite garden tool is "SEVEN"... I envy people like you who have neighbors that don't do things like that! Maybe once I get some ladies working my hives I'll be able to educate him.
 
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