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Strange design, have to back-step

2714 Views 11 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  jwcarlson
Hello there!

I was able to participate in a top bar hive class / inspection yesterday- and not a moment too soon!

We installed a package last weekend, and they are very happy in their new home, except the bars are all jacked up.

The hive I purchased has 1" top bars, and 3/8" spacers. The instructions were to put together spacer first, bar, spacer, bar, etc.

We went to the class yesterday, and when we saw the bars on the examples and hives inspected, they were waaaaaay wider than what we had.

So, we inspected to find that the bees are keeping true to form, and building exactly where they should be, except, this involves a half of a bar and a "spacer" per comb.

So, we were able to purchase some 1 3/8" bars from yesterday's host, and will build some of our own.

I really understand the importance of bee space now, and how strict they seem to be with keeping it!

This is our first TBH, we have langs. If we hadn't gone to that class yesterday, this could have been a HUGE mess!
I'm going to do the hair clip method to get the drawn comb onto the new, wider bars.

Just goes to show how invaluable it is to be an active member of the local bee club- and of this forum!
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You design should work. There is no need to take that comb out and try to hair clip it on. You just need an extra spacer before the next bar to try to get them centered again.
Looks like you are using kelley Foundationless top bars for a lang. They work on a lang since they can't pull on comb in the "gap", but when you add a spacer you add a place to draw comb. I would do like toadman said and put in spacers to get it aligned. As long as it is straight and you can inspect the hive it doesn't mater if they are dead center in a bar.
You just need an extra spacer before the next bar to try to get them centered again.
Thanks Toadman. I am just trying to get them off to a good, straight start. This seems like it will never be correct, as they were building in 3 different areas, and flipping around to give the correct space didn't seem like it was going to work, we had spacer-spacer, bar, spacer, bar, spacer, spacer…

Looks like you are using kelley Foundationless top bars for a lang.
That is Kelley's TBH. They sell it as a kit with the spacers, which are lang top bars with a cleat built in.

There was one bar that was already starting to cross a small comb from just the spacer over to meet the comb built on the bar-spacer. Just seems like a mess waiting to happen.
Also, very pragmatically speaking, sometimes they will glue a couple of bars together with propolis and build something that spans two of them. They will keep them more-or-less straight and more-or-less parallel, but "beeing a bee" apparently is not an exact science. :) Therefore you need to be cautious when moving and removing bars. I typically start from either end and work toward the middle, gently trying to separate a bar from its neighbor (to see if it will come), then sliding a bread-knife blade gently into the gap and drawing it across to see if there is a gap. If so, I gently remove or move the bar. Also use the bread-knife to check for attachment to the side of the box.
I wish that I would have remembered to put the spacer in first. I didn't do this and now I am having to compensate for off centered comb right from the beginning.
Jamie D, your top bar arrangement should work just fine where the issue starts is with your guides. In my view the wedges are too shallow, a deeper wedge would work much better. Now that the combs have been built off set of the guides getting the next combs built centered along the guides should be your goal. Using the spacers as suggested and buttering the cell walls back of the off set combs are good tools to get back on track. I would also recommend that you get hold of some more of the frame top bars but with the slot cut in them for foundation and wax foundation starter strips in. If you cut the strips 1 3/8" you will get about 1" of exposed strip for the bees to follow (every time).

Here is a pic on what buttering back is.

Wood Wood stain Hardwood

Wood stain Wood Design Hardwood Table
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Thanks for all the replies, and your example Delta Bay.
My issue with keeping what they built on the frames & guides was the management in the future, turning them around. If I mixed up the new, correct bars with the bar/guide ones, I feared I'd run into problems later on.
We did get the properly-sized bars, with starter strips, and just transferred the comb they built (clips & floral wire).

That was interesting… Thankfully, they put up with my meddling, and I hope to get them off to a great start. We had to re-do a few of the re-attached combs until we got the knack. The queen was unharmed, and I can't believe how long they withstood the intrusion. The weather was glorious, so that was helpful!
I'll get some pictures together.
Looks like you did a good job, hope it works out for ya!
Thanks, I just peeked in- the first one fell (not pictured) :pinch:
Cut it down a bit & gave back. I feel really bad now because the queen is really doing a heck of a job laying. Also, I put the trimmed-off sections at the back of the hive for them to salvage.

What's done is done.

Do they transport eggs, by any chance?
Do they transport eggs, by any chance?
I don't know the answer to this, but I suspect they do not. I don't think there would be much economy there for the bees to waste time moving eggs, considering how many a queen can lay in a very short period of time. I'm sure they move eggs to clean them out if they are dead, but I can't imagine them moving them once laid into another cell.
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