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Discussion Starter #1
Very top bar specific question.

One of my colonies is a split and its current broodnest consists of 10 bars. The issue is that three of these bars, which I have between fully drawn comb, are only about 50% drawn and the bees are not going to be drawing any more comb. Generally, how do I manage these partial combs now in preparation for winter? Nope, I do not have any available combs to replace these.

If the comb is only drawn across half of a bar, I guess I could detach one comb and attempt to rubberband it to one of the other partially drawn combs to make a full bar?

If I can't do that, should I move the partially drawn combs to the back of the broodnest and have them eventually backfilled as the colony consolidates?

If so, once they are backfilled should I place them as the last bars in the honey storage area or is that asking for trouble as they would represent their last stores?

Thanks,
Kevin
 

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when you say the are halfway drawn, I'm assuming you mean there is just a small paddle of comb, and not that they are only half way to the floor of the hive, correct? If so, I would not consider these part of the "bars with drawn comb" as they won't add much to the overwintering cluster. These would be arranged at the very end of the drawn combs.

I would not suggest that you detach them and try and fit two together on a bar. If your bees are really not drawing comb right now, they are not going to attach broken comb either.

However, if you feed 1:1 right now, in addition to giving them 2:1 (which they are more likely to store), chances are pretty good that the bees will draw more comb between now and September.

And I'd also just comment that 10 bars drawn is pretty light for a full size colony. I hope you plan to put a sugar brick in the bottom to help them through the winter.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Let me clarify - when I say that three of the bars in the broodnest have comb that is 50% drawn, I mean that the comb on each of these bars has been drawn out to about half the size of a fully drawn comb. So, they are much more than just a paddle of comb.

Based on this clarification, would you still suggest moving them to the back of the broodnest?

In addition to the 10 bars comprising the broodnest, it has also 8 bars dedicated to honey storage although I have the same issue there as I do in the broodnest - not all of those 8 bars are fully drawn so I am wondering how I should position that comb as well??

Kevin
 

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Put the partially drawn comb right next to the broodnest and feed plenty of 1:1 sugar water. The bees will see the empty space and want to fill it in with comb. You will still have enough warm weather to have the bees finish that bar off. As Ruthie stated, that will still be pretty light going into winter so please make some sugar blocks to put in the hive to get them through the winter. You will want the sugar block in place by mid-October. As long as it is warm enough for the bees to move around the hive, they will consume the sugar block before the food in the combs.
 

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I only have one TB hive, so I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination (20+ Langs).

Were the short drawn bars replacements for earlier removed bars? In either case I think I would let them alone where they are and deal with what happens to them next spring.

ruthie know more about TB, and I'm surprised that she hasn't followed up on her first post.

EDIT: ..... or follow dudelt's post above. :s
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the feedback. My only concern is that the partially drawn comb have remained in their partially drawn state since late July when they stopped drawing anymore despite my feeding 1:1. I may be wrong, but I don;t think they will draw anymore, but I certainly hope so.

If they remain as they are and I move them to the end of the broodnest what do I do with them after they get backfilled with sugar water? Move them once again to the back of the honey storage area and perhaps behind a couple of bars of fondant as emergency feed?
 

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So while we are on the topic of honey comb and brood combs, from a ratio standpoint in Top Bar Hives, now that we are moving into winter bee production [almost all the drones are bye-bye], what would be considered a good or healthy balance? 18 bar hives at least 5 in each are easily identified as active brood with all but about 2 bars in each hive as what I would consider full honey. They are still also making comb on the "lesser bars". One is in between two full honey bars and the other is immediately behind the existing brood combs. If they don't fill both of these with something, the plan will be to move them out to maximize access to full combs unless the one behind the brood combs have brood? Feeding 2:1 every 3rd day and they are also feeding on a boatload of California figwort, over 300 sunflowers, a 20x20 planting of goldenrod and pumkin/squash blossoms. Dandelions are still flowering as well. Hope it's not confusing question. Really is ratio of brood to honey comb bars. Room for winter candy board once the weather breaks mid-late October.
 

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Kevin, I am a bit north of you and my bees are still drawing comb. The bees are all Carnis and this time of year have really cut down on drawing comb but there is still some happening. Italians are much better at drawing comb later in the year (and earlier in the year in my opinion). You can leave it where it is. There is no reason to move the comb. It is getting late in the year. In about 45 days (in my area) night time temperatures will start dropping into the 30's and feeding uptake will be much slower if at all. For Seattle, the average low temperature in October is just over 40 degrees. When the sugar water gets that cold, the bees will not take it until it warms up and most days barely get over 50 degrees.

Gary, pretty much the same advice as above. The comb you have now, other than the brood nest should be mostly filled with nectar and honey. Time is running out quickly. I have 6 top bar hives, all are 4 feet long with about 30 bars and most years about 1/2 of the bars are honey and nectar. It has always been enough. The top bar hives seem to have much smaller populations than the Lang hives and use a lot less food in the winter. The number of brood bars is just fine for this time of the year.
 

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dudelt;1831911 Gary said:
Dudelt- Big thanks. Now to wrap up the last of 3 OAVs and wait until November for a good weather day for one more. Mite counts have been real low it seems this year, but ounce of prevention.
 

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Mine mite counts have been real low too as have others in the area I have talked to. I think the annual spike will be late this year. Perhaps the mites are dying from COVID-19? A man can only dream...
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks, Dudely,

My top bar hives are about the same size as yours so i was curious as to how many bars your colonies typically occupy when you close up for winter? 8-9? In other words how many bars make up the broodnest especially for those that overwintered well?

Thanks,
Kevin
 

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Most of the time they are about 8-10 bars for the cluster. I have had much smaller colonies make it through the winter. I was given a queen in August from Olympic Wilderness Apiaries a few years back and re-queened a failing colony with her. It was 3 bars with virtually no stores for winter. They lived on sugar blocks with a bit of Ultra-Bee added in. Come spring, they really took off and gave me a great blackberry harvest. I replaced her this year. If they have enough stores of any kind and winter is not to harsh, it is surprising how small a cluster can be and still be viable. There does come a point where they cannot keep enough brood warm to increase their population and I think I was just over that amount. If I had needed to pay for that queen, I would have declined the offer. I really did not think they would make it. It was a nice surprise.
 
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