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Discussion Starter #1
I am new beek and get my package on April 15th but a quick question here. My TBH is the Michael Bush style one detailed here with these exact specs except my top bars are all made to 1 3/8" from furring strips I got from home depot so I didn't have to rip them. The hive is 46.5 inches long and has 15" long top bars:

http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm

My question is I have no follower board should I make one and limit the area the bees are in when I package them or might they bee fine if I put in the package near the end with the top entrance (3/8" space before first bar) and let them have the entire space? I would rather not bother with making a follower board but if I get enough opinions that it is crucial or handy enough then I would reconsider.


Thanks!

Adam
 

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I'd recommend a follower board and limit them to half the hive for a week or two until they get settled in and started building comb. They don't need all that extra space right away. Keep an eye on them and if they're building out really fast give them more room.
 

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I'd recommend a follower board and limit them to half the hive for a week or two until they get settled in and started building comb. They don't need all that extra space right away. Keep an eye on them and if they're building out really fast give them more room.
I'll be starting a top bar hive soon. So once they start building comb, do you slowly move the follower board back or do you just remove it? Do you need to put top bars behind the follower to keep other critters (such as wasps) from using the space? Also, why is it called a follower board?
 

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As beegora said they will do better if you decrease the hive space, doesn't have to be fancy, even cardboard will do, when the larvae appear you can take it out. You are just trying to keep them from absconding. After the first hive gets going and you start number two all you need to do to get them to stay is provide a comb of brood from your fist hive. After a few weeks start opening up the brood-nest to prevent swarming.
I was called out yesterday by a newbee that I sold a TBH to several weeks ago, because it had swarmed, she had forgot about the opening the brood-nest demo I did for her. They only had a third of the box full, whereas if she had opened the brood-nest a couple of times she would have some honey and enough bees to split into three hives in six or eight weeks.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the replies if I use a follower board in the 46" Michael Bush type hive how much room should I give them initially or how many 1/38" bars should they have access too maybe half the bars @18 or so?
 

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Thanks for the replies if I use a follower board in the 46" Michael Bush type hive how much room should I give them initially or how many 1/38" bars should they have access too maybe half the bars @18 or so?
No more than that, I think for a 3 pound package one third of the hive box would do better.
 

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I'm glad to see the topic of starting a new top bar hive. I caught a small swarm on Saturday and have put it in my top bar hive. Thank goodness I had put it in my yard half as a joke with a "For Rent" sign on it. I have given them about 12 bars to build on--I really didn't think too much about it. I have an observation window and peeked in Saturday and Sunday evening. Sunday, they were clustered in the "back" by the follower board and to one side of the bars.
Does anyone use an observation window? Is this normal? Is anything normal? I can't help but worry, as it is my first swarm and quite small--about 4 two-handed scoops. But I was told they would build close to then entrance, not the back, and I was expecting them to build in the middle of the bars, not to one side. Are they maybe still deciding if they want to stay? We really don't have anyone in our area who is keeping top bars.
The hive is level on the long axis, so the comb should go straight down. It need some adjusting to get it level crossways. Needs about a 2 inch lift, which I plan to take care of today. I didn't expect I'd have tenants so soon.
 

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I'm glad to see the topic of starting a new top bar hive. I caught a small swarm on Saturday and have put it in my top bar hive. Thank goodness I had put it in my yard half as a joke with a "For Rent" sign on it. I have given them about 12 bars to build on--I really didn't think too much about it. I have an observation window and peeked in Saturday and Sunday evening. Sunday, they were clustered in the "back" by the follower board and to one side of the bars.
Does anyone use an observation window? Is this normal? Is anything normal? I can't help but worry, as it is my first swarm and quite small--about 4 two-handed scoops. But I was told they would build close to then entrance, not the back, and I was expecting them to build in the middle of the bars, not to one side. Are they maybe still deciding if they want to stay? We really don't have anyone in our area who is keeping top bars.
The hive is level on the long axis, so the comb should go straight down. It need some adjusting to get it level crossways. Needs about a 2 inch lift, which I plan to take care of today. I didn't expect I'd have tenants so soon.
I assume you have a front entrance not a side entrance, if so it is normal for bees to start building comb away from the entrance and build towards the entrance, that is why I don't use side entrances, I start all my splits in the back, also keep your observation window covered, resist the temptation to peek in on them until they can get some larvae, then you can spy on them all you like.
 

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Adambeal, I ask Michael Bush that question and he said just "Enough to dump in the bees. Probably four or five." When I look through my observation window, 4 or 5 seems really small so I plan (tomorrow actually) to install my package about 10 bars deep.
 

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I have a window on a couple hives. It is great for a new hive since you get to see the progress. I have spent hours looking through the window with my daughter.

I probably have went a bit bigger. I think I have at least 12 bars in the hive when putting in a package.
 

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Follower boards are a must, in my opinion. I only give a new package about 7-8 bars. I read once that bees prefer to build along the longest axis, so if that happens to be the same direction as the bar, they're more likely to follow whatever guide you have on them. I try to keep a straight comb on both ends and always expand in the middle of combs when adding empty bars. This keeps combs straight, plus, too many empty bars at either end are an invitation for cross combing.
 
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