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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
ive started two top bars about two weeks ago. I opened up the hive today to find both hives built comb at 45 degs from the top bar. the bars have starter strips made from 1/8" wide wood strips and coted in bees wax. they started on starter strip but didn't fallow it on eather hive. bars are 1 3/8" wide and 20" long. entrance holes are 3/4 in and they only have one in eash hive. others are blocked for now.


To me it seem like the top bars are nothing but trouble. My other hives never built outa frame. the top bars are all ways bearded out more and harder to inspect. only up side I can see is the easiness of building one. so far unless I can get these guys building right I have to give top bars a thumbs down
 

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1/8th just isn't enough very likely the bees will ignore it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
well let me clear it up its 1/8 thick and 3/8s tall I coted them in wax then brad nailed it to top bars thru long side. they were really wedge bars from frames that got broke just extra.
 

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Oh I see, that should have been OK.

Looks like since the hives are only two weeks old you will have to do some comb re-arranging & bend comb into the right place. If you can even end up with a couple of correctly built combs you can then put a bar between them & the bees will build that correctly, and just keep spreading that with more bars between. The hopeless comb can either be removed completely, or gradually moved into the honey area for eventual harvest and removal.`

I have had to "fix" several TBH's with cross comb as you have described, it may take some time, fiddling, and persistence, but it can be done.

I think TBH's are best suited to people who have time, and an ability to fiddle and persist, LOL. :)
 

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I know next to nothing about top bar hives, but I have thought of building one that will fit regular deep lang frames. Seems like would have the advantages of no lifting heavy boxes, but still have the ease of use of lang frames and foundation. Too busy right now, but I may build one next winter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
ok so moving the comb would something I can do. I just never had to do any of this with my other hives. ill give it a try. oh also I had to requeen a queen less swarm in one of them they built comb on the cage what about that?
 

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I've had good luck with comb, I use bars with a wedge milled in them. The worst I have had was some that was going on a slight angle and a narrow wedge brought it back straight again. TBHs are not for everyone. There require more attention and can easily go sideways (like what happened with you). Once you have several you can use comb from another hive when starting a new hive and you pretty much get straight comb. Make sure you boxes are level too. If you use an upper entrance by moving a bar back and let them come in that way you will probably end the bearding, or cut it way back. A lot of heat is generated in a hive and with no top venting it can get too hot in there.
 

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you only need to leave the cage in a few days. then pull it. so they shouldn't build too much comb on it.

once you get straight combs going then they will keep doing straight comb. fix it early before it gets nuts. maybe make a few hardware cloth bars. get a few bars centered up and they will build from there.

 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I just let the queen out she ran in the middle of the bee ball on the comb. as for the comb should I do the one with the fresh queen tomorrow or wait a little bit.
 

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I'd make sure they are level side to side.. both of them. that could be part of the problem. Also open up more entrance holes. We have 3 on the end of ours and they open and close them as they want.

Maybe fix the comb on the non re-queened one first.. depending on how it is attached you might be able to slice along the top part way and curve it straight and kinda mush it onto the starter strip. it will be very soft so keep them vertical.

Patrick has a good video showing how to cut out comb and put it in a top bar. some of it will translate to what you're doing.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcGcLN8APTI
 

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We leveled all three of ours meticulously. All three have built pretty much perfectly straight and centered combs. I wouldn't say it's perfect, but they pretty much have it sorted out. My brood bars are 1 1/4" and if anything it looks like they might prefer something more narrow. Most of my bars are all one piece wedge. However, I just made 105 bars with tongue depressors kerfed and glued in. They built three perfect combs on those as well.

How level are your hives?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
We leveled all three of ours meticulously. All three have built pretty much perfectly straight and centered combs. I wouldn't say it's perfect, but they pretty much have it sorted out. My brood bars are 1 1/4" and if anything it looks like they might prefer something more narrow. Most of my bars are all one piece wedge. However, I just made 105 bars with tongue depressors kerfed and glued in. They built three perfect combs on those as well.

How level are your hives?
I didn't pull out the level but there eye balled. but do I need to brake out the 4' level on them? 1.375 to wide for bars? I was thinking about boxing them up and throwing out the top bars. may be make some supers out of them. :lpf: that would straighten them out.
 

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I am starting my first TBH this year and what I am doing to get some comb built be for I add bee's { I have a nuc for it} I put the top bars in my langs I just duck taped the top bar to a lang. frame and put it in the brood nest so I'm hoping it will work to build comb. I think a TBH will be fun.:D
 

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You have to watch them, and straighten out the comb anytime you're in in the hive. If you have any lang comb, just rubber band a piece to a bar to get them started right. Mine have done a real nice job at keeping comb straight. I use all triangle comb guides. My first ones were two piece with the triangle glued on, but now in making all my bars one piece.


Each time I'm in the hives, I use my hive tool to mash any crooked comb back straight, and they fix it back up. This year has been very easy, because I just add new bars between straight comb, and they get it right the first time.
 

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PLCnut, I make mine basically the same, but on the ends of the wedge I miter the cut so that there isn't a big gap between the end of the wedge and the side of the hive. It is the pain in the behind part of making them.
 

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PLCnut, I make mine basically the same, but on the ends of the wedge I miter the cut so that there isn't a big gap between the end of the wedge and the side of the hive. It is the pain in the behind part of making them.
The photo makes them look square, but the ends of the wedges are angled to follow the hive sides.
They really aren't to hard to make.
1) Rip "x4"x? at 45deg, with fence 3/4" from blade (You can do this twice with a 2x4 and get two sets of bars from it).
2) Flip piece end-for-end, and re-rip with same settings.
3) Chop bars to their total length (15" for me)
4) -
a) Set the table saw angle to match the angle of your TBH side-walls (24 deg for mine)
b) Set the fence to the right of the blade by the difference of the hive width minus one frame rest (13-15/15" for mine)
c) Set the blade height to 13/16"
d) Using your miter gauge stand each bar on the wedge and run through the saw (Repeat for both ends).
5) Set table saw blade height to the depth needed for the frame rest (11/16" for mine), and set the fence 3/4" from blade. Now run each bar through the saw standing up, with the 'top' of the bar against the fence to remove the frame rest.
 

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Similar to what I do, but less cuts. I did some like that but I didn't like to run them through for the angled crosscuts with just the wedge against the table. I was worried one would get away and kick back badly. I'm going to make a crosscut sled just for the angled crosscut so they will sit firm and I can just push the sled through.

The way that I am doing it now is I chop to length (19 inches), I rip to width (1 1/4), then I make the angled crosscut (I use 45 degrees, I don't want a hiding place for SHB), I make a tenon cut with a jig to remove the waste and create the rest, then I cut in the wedge. I have been testing the wedges with a bit shallower slope (35 degrees) to see how they work. I figured it would still be ok, we will find out soon.
 

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Yes the foundation strip is pretty much failproof. Although a wedge bar is favoured by many I get any TBH beginners I sell bees to, to use foundation strips & there is never a problem, these guys don't have any experience & need something that will work out of the box, no skill required.
 
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