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Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone ever tried round bars for Warre' or horizontal TBHs? Although we have plenty of round stuff growing, of the right diameter that could be candidates, I wonder if there is a problem I'm not seeing. Certainly, we'd need to be aware that wet wood shrinks.
 

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I think the idea has merit. I will be keeping my eyes open for naturally ocurring dowels of sufficient straightness and strength.
 

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Unless you are going to use manufactured dowels, you will find very little "natural" material that is round, but not tapered, and without bumps where the knots are. Many top bar designs are such that the bees are not expected to have access to the top of the bars. You may also find it difficult to seal the top of the hive (to block access to other critters) if the top of the bars is not flat.

You may find it useful to review Michael Bush's info on top bars, including this page:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm
Make sure to also look at the FAQ section on the lower part of the page.
 

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I don't see why it wouldn't work, as long as you can get some real straight ones like Josh said. I think you would want to remove the bark first as it will eventually dry up and possibly fall off or at least be a weak point for comb attachment. Also, the wood itself should be dried out so that moisture in the wood doesn't compromise the comb attachment. You would want 1 1/4" diameter for the brood, and 1 1/2" for the honey bars. Might be hard finding a consistent diameter though. If you are going to go through that much trouble locating just the right branches to make them out of, you may as well just cut them out of 1 x stock and be done with it. John
 

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One concern I have about round wooden rods used as top bars, is their inherent tendency to bow under the weight of combs and bees. However, if they are 1-1/4" in diameter, or more, this shouldn't be a big concern.
 

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I have done half round. It was the norm for a Greek Basket hive to make them round on the bottom, and I was experimenting with the concept back in the 70s. I tried round and it worked somewhat but they didn't stay as straight as when I sloped them to a point. My initial theory was that matching the slope of the cells would be best, but I found that a steeper angle actually worked better. The more distinct the edge the better, to a point of diminishing returns, of course. A 90 degree facing down (or, depending on your point of view, a 45 on each side) seems to be the point of diminishing returns.
 

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I have a good sized grove of mature Black Bamboo. Anyone in my area is welcome to harvest a bit to try.
Lauri
Western Wa state
[email protected]
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you all. We don't have a table saw or appropriate hand planes or draw knives, and ripping bars to width or adding kerfs with a hand-held circular saw seems dangerous LOL.
As I regularly harvest willow here and the regrowth is fairly straight, it occurred to me that perhaps some of the pieces might work for bars. It seems like that might not be the best idea in the world, but I'll keep an eye out for suitable pieces and maybe use one to see what the bees do with it.

So far, for the Warre' hives, I've modified the hive interior dimensions to accommodate bars made of door stop (3/16 x 1 3/16) molding and then glue and nail corner molding to it for comb guides. For the soon-to-be-built horizontal top bar hives, we'll probably end up using 1 x 2 at whatever the dimension it comes in at the store.
 

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Thank you all. We don't have a table saw or appropriate hand planes or draw knives, and ripping bars to width or adding kerfs with a hand-held circular saw seems dangerous LOL.
.... For the soon-to-be-built horizontal top bar hives, we'll probably end up using 1 x 2 at whatever the dimension it comes in at the store.
Store bought 1x2s are 3/4" x 1-1/2" in actual dimensions, so that will work well for top bars intended for honey comb. Generally brood comb bars are recommended to be a little narrower than that.

If you do want to make top bars to a specific width, it is possible to do so with a hand held circular saw with reasonable safety. It will, of course, be slower than with a table saw.

Lets say you want 16" bars 1 1/4" wide. Start with say two 8' lengths of 1x10 or 1/12. Clamp them (or screw them) to a flat surface with supporting blocks underneath the 1x10s, except no block under one end, leaving 18" unsupported. (The second board is just there to support the saw foot plate after several progressive cuts.) Then using either a rip guide attached to the saw, or a guide edge clamped to the top of the board, cut a piece 16" parallel to the long edge of the 1x10. Only cut to just past the 16" mark.

Do not crosscut the piece, leaving it attached at one end. Then cut a parallel bar, also to the 16" mark. When you have cut across the full width of the 1x10 into 16" strips, then do a crosscut to cut off those 16" strips. Now shift the supporting blocks and repeat. Not particularly fast, but workable, although you will end up with a stub end of the 1x10 that cannot be safely cut with this method. With this system, buy the longest boards you can transport to get the fewest stub ends.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Lets say you want 16" bars 1 1/4" wide. Start with say two 8' lengths of 1x10 or 1/12. Clamp them (or screw them) to a flat surface with supporting blocks underneath the 1x10s, except no block under one end, leaving 18" unsupported. (The second board is just there to support the saw foot plate after several progressive cuts.) Then using either a rip guide attached to the saw, or a guide edge clamped to the top of the board, cut a piece 16" parallel to the long edge of the 1x10. Only cut to just past the 16" mark.
Fabulous! Thanks Graham! I used to be a drafter and my machine shop grandpa was forever growling about folks in the engineering department having no sense at all. He was right, haha, and gifted in making things.
 

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Lets say you want 16" bars 1 1/4" wide. Start with say two 8' lengths of 1x10 or 1/12. Clamp them (or screw them) to a flat surface with supporting blocks underneath the 1x10s, except no block under one end, leaving 18" unsupported. (The second board is just there to support the saw foot plate after several progressive cuts.) Then using either a rip guide attached to the saw, or a guide edge clamped to the top of the board, cut a piece 16" parallel to the long edge of the 1x10. Only cut to just past the 16" mark.

Do not crosscut the piece, leaving it attached at one end. Then cut a parallel bar, also to the 16" mark. When you have cut across the full width of the 1x10 into 16" strips, then do a crosscut to cut off those 16" strips. Now shift the supporting blocks and repeat. Not particularly fast, but workable, although you will end up with a stub end of the 1x10 that cannot be safely cut with this method. With this system, buy the longest boards you can transport to get the fewest stub ends.
Ive read this several times and I still dont get it, One of these days you gotta do a video!
 

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I take it as similar to making a 8 foot long fingerboard, 16 inches long, one piece at a time.
 

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Saltybee has it correct.

> Graham, don't you have to reset the rip guide for every strip? That would drive me crazy.

Well, if you want 1.25" bars, and don't have access to a tablesaw, this is a viable, if slow, option. Note that if you use a circular saw with an adjustable rip guide attached to the saw (many saws come with that accessory), then the rip guide does not need to be reset after each cut.

If you have misplaced the included rip guide, :rolleyes: and then are using a clamped strait-edge as a guide, then you will need to reset the straightedge after each cut.

In the long run, looking for an affordable tablesaw on Craigslist would be my choice. Note that I have not personally used this technique to make top bars. I use a tablesaw. But in a pinch, away from a tablesaw, I have used this technique to make a small number of custom width boards for non-beekeeping purposes when I had to.
 

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Afterthought; one shallow cut down the center would give you a guide groove.
 
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