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Hi,

I have completed two top bar hives using the design found here:

http://topbarbees.wordpress.com/

I have installed bees in one of them. I didn’t make a follower bar – I missed it when I was building the hives (I also missed the 1/8″ spacer at the walls of the hive – need to add that). I may make a follower bar before winter in case I need to limit space to help them heat the hive. How critical is a follower bar?

I’ve searched the entire design site, and read all the forum entries, but couldn’t find the answer to this question. How do you decide where to place the top bars? Do I just put all the 1 1/4″ bars in the front and the 1 1/2″ bars in the back? After the brood nest is built, do I take out any thin top bars and replace them with the thicker ones? Does the brood nest continue to grow, or does it hit a limit?

At installation time (two weeks ago), I put the thin top bars in the front. I think I did about 15 of each type. I put the queen hanging in the middle of the thin top bar section. I’m going to check them again next weekend – which will be three weeks since installation. I’d like to adjust the top bars appropriately at that time. I’m guessing that I’ll see mostly brood nest. If I see a honey comb, does that mean the brood nest won’t expand anymore? In that case, Should I remove any 1 1/4″ bars and replace them with 1 1/2″ bars? If the nest is in the middle, with space in the front and the back, should I slide the nest to the front, or should I fill the front with thicker bars? Will the bees always build on an adjacent bar, or would they start building in the back of the nest to utilize the larger bars?

I opened up the hive yesterday, and left the bars where they were. I pulled out all the bars, and tried to check the different cell types, but wasn't really sure what I was looking at. I never saw any eggs, but I'm not sure I'd be able to see them through the veil, and after more research, I think I needed to look closer at the newest comb. However, I did see some larvae. Does this mean that everything is fine and the queen is laying, or could it be a worker bee? I looked quickly at each comb for the queen, but didn't see it.

How do I differentiate the different cell types? Is there a web page that circles the different types in an image and tells what they are? I think that a white capped cell is a honey cell, but it could be a wet cap, which I wouldn't know what it looks like. I think the dark half filled cells are pollen cells (bee bread). I think worker cells get covered with a yellow wax when they hit the pupae stage. How would I differentiate a queen cell from a drone cell? What other cell types should I know?

Lastly, how do I determine if I have a strong queen? What types of cell patterns should I look for?

Here are a few pictures of my hive with some cells highlighted stating what I think they are:

http://i740.photobucket.com/albums/xx48/chris_wyse/Bees023_web.jpg
http://i740.photobucket.com/albums/xx48/chris_wyse/Bees017_web.jpg
http://i740.photobucket.com/albums/xx48/chris_wyse/Bees034_web.jpg

The last photo is of the complete hive. It looks fine to me, but what do I know?

As you can probably tell by now, I’m a complete novice, with no local help. I've tried to research as much as possible on my own. Any suggestions and comments would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Chris
 

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great pics! I'm no expert, but it seems to me your labels on the pics are correct. You most likely have eggs in some frames that you're just not seeing. the difference between capped workers and capped drones is that the drone caps will extent out, bulging...the difference between a drone and queen is tremendous...queen cells are build off the comb and look like peanuts.(the have the little dimples that a peanut shell has)..the ones that you see at the bottom of the frames are usually swarm queen(but not always) and the ones higher up on the comb are supersedure queens(but not always) once you find one you'll be able to see the difference immediately

best of luck!
 

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I'm no expert, but I'd bet you what you are calling "capped honey" is actually capped brood. Everything looks good to me. FYI, my aging eyes have yet to see my queen or an egg on my package installed mid-April, but I see different stages of brood and I have more bees than I did last week. All that adds up to healthy queen in my book.
 

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one reason the eggs are hard to see it becuase you have pretty, new, white comb...once it darkens up a little, the eggs will be a little easier to see
 
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