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Discussion Starter #1
Long time lurker, first time poster. Let me start by thanking all you very knowledgeable horizontal hive beekeepers on this site. I have gained valuable wisdom and knowledge from you beeks and couldn't bee the semi-successful first year beekeeper without you. As stated, this is my first year keeping bees and so far it is one of the most exciting and rewarding things I have ever done. I built two different hives this Fall, from plans that I bought on the interweb. One of the hive plans called for the body to be 27 inches long. After reading several post on this forum, I decided to modify it to 42 inches and boy am I glad I did. Thx for that advice. I made the top bars to plan specs, which are 1 1/4 width for the brood nest and 1 3/8 for the honeycomb. It hasn't been much of a problem until recently. This hive is bursting at the seams with bees, so this past Friday I did a full hive inspection to look for any swarm cups or cells. While separating bars I would have to cut burr comb on both ends of each bar in order to lift them out of the hive for inspection. The honey section was bad but the further i got toward the brood, the worse it got. The honey band at the top of the brood nest would adjoin to the next bar but only on the ends. I attributed this to the smaller width bars in the brood area. I made some 1/4 inch spacers to insert between the top bars. Can I insert them now between the top bars with drawn out comb or is this something that has to be done before the comb is drawn? I don't know how this will effect their "bee space" by giving them a wider gap between the comb. Any thoughts, suggestions or criticism is welcome. Thx.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
One piece with 30 degree angle cut to form the guide. --v-- They attach the comb fine. They build the comb wider than the bars at the top ends causing attachment to the adjoining bar.
 

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I am curious as to what type of bees you are keeping? Are they commercial stock from a regular breeder, your own survivor stock, or swarms? As well what types of foundation you are providing.

Also, are your hives level in both directions?

As it is most commercial stock is raised in "standard" or large cell foundation. As people move their bees to either "small cell" or "natural cell" it may take a few generations for bees to be small enough to effectively use the smaller spacing of the 1 1/4 spacing. This may have something to do with why they are joining frames one to the other. I could be wrong, but I am sure there are small/natural advocates here that could better address the ins and outs of closer frames and natural cells.

Many things can contribute to joining frames.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Package of Saskatraz bees from Olivarez. No foundation just 30 degree angles cut into bottom of top bar. Hive is definitely level both directions. I'm just needing advice on putting spacers between existing combs. Will this help with my problem or make matters worse?
 

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An interesting puzzle ...

What I'm about to write is mainly conjecture, because I'm not a Top-Bar beekeeper - tried it for a couple of years but just couldn't hack it - and although I now use frames, I do not subscribe to fixed-distance (Hoffman) spacing with those either, as the widely accepted industry-standard of 35mm was chosen for one-size-fits-all manufacturing convenience and in practice is neither an ideal spacing for brood nor honey.

I think it's important to recognise that in Nature there's no such thing as 'brood comb' nor 'honey-comb' - there is simply just 'comb', which is used for both purposes as required. When used for stores, former opposing brood cells (which normally have 2 bee-spaces between them) are elongated until just one bee-space remains - and so as you have rightly concluded, it's the formation of the thicker honey-band at the top of the brood combs which is the basic cause of this beekeeping problem. Add to this a tendency for bees to form side adhesions and it then becomes not entirely surprising that a more comprehensive attachment is being formed at the top, towards the sides.

However, I understand that Top Bar beekeepers have been managing with these spacings for donkey's years - so what then is the difference between their hives and yours ?

I wonder if "This hive is bursting at the seams with bees, ... " has anything to do with it ? My own hives frequently have opportunities for 'creative comb-building', but in practice this is never seen ... that is, until a hive becomes congested, at which point the bees direct their attention towards what they see as minor imperfections and/or transgressions of the 'beekeeping rules'. It's as if they can't be bothered with such details while there are much bigger issues to be dealt with.

If I were in your shoes, firstly I'd make some room in that hive - either by pulling/storing a few honey combs and giving them some plain bars to draw out again for honey, or with which to expand the brood nest (very much depending on your regional winter requirements, of which I know nothing).
With regard to inserting spacers - I wouldn't - and the reason I wouldn't is that although you may solve the honey-band problem, by doing this you will then be creating excess spacing further down within the brood area - and maybe cause inter-comb attachments to be drawn down there.
What else ? Well, I'm more than happy to be over-ruled by an experienced T/B beekeeper, but if those attachments remain a real problem, then I'd slice them back to the level of the brood cells, and hope that the bees seal them and then leave them 'as is'. During my brief spell with T/B's I did notice that whenever I cut away any side adhesions, the bees would tend not to re-attach them. It was as if repair work and initial comb-building had different 'rules' applied.
LJ
 

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Good advice LJ
also you did not mention if the connections were due to 2 wide or 2 narrow as you worked toward the brood nest.
If you plan to extract, one could take a couple of the "worst" frames cut them back extract and then add then to the brood nest.
I as well concur I would not want the different size frames, how do you then use a honey frame for the nest during splits or rearrangements.

Glad they are bursting at the seams, a much better issue to ponder then, they are shrinking.

can you go back to the "interweb" plan site and pose the question to the hive designer? perhaps they have seen this happening.

GG
 

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.......I made some 1/4 inch spacers to insert between the top bars. Can I insert them now between the top bars with drawn out comb or is this something that has to be done before the comb is drawn? I don't know how this will effect their "bee space" by giving them a wider gap between the comb. Any thoughts, suggestions or criticism is welcome. Thx.

Been there.
This will just complicate things for you.
Instead, shave off the "offending" combs back to your "human" specs, let the slices drop down, and don't look back.
Bees will clean up and repair the mess closer to your desired specs.
Long serrated bread knife works for this.
Like so:
NaturalComb.jpg
NaturalCombShaved.jpg
 

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As people move their bees to either "small cell" or "natural cell" it may take a few generations for bees to be small enough to effectively use the smaller spacing of the 1 1/4 spacing.
Based on my observations and trying at different sizes, bees really create an assortment of cells and assortments of bees of various sizes.
There is no standard size (big or small or whatever), but rather an assortment of sizes in certain range.
With that, less sure of the significance of 1.25" anymore (it will not translate into some standard small cell size).
Just as 1.5" will not translate into a large brood cell and create bigger bees.

If the overall micro-climate of the hive is good, maybe none of these bar spacings matter (make them 1.5" for convenience and call a day).
Foam based hives provide good micro-climate - yes, I maybe saying a heresy.
But if wood-based internal veneer is made to line the internals of such foam hive, may not be so much heresy.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the great info LJ and GG. I do realize now the big mistake I made was making two different width top bars. You live and learn. I'm trying to let the bees do what they want, without my interference. The hive is getting so full that I decided to get into it after two weeks to check for swarm cups or cells. I contemplated doing a split but we are heading into a dearth so I didn't want to jeopardize anything. Two weeks ago, I put two empty bars in the brood nest. These are completely full of eggs and larvae now. That makes 18 bars of brood. When do I quit adding empty bars? I did have to remove a half capped/half uncapped bar of honey because there were about a dozen larvae in the uncapped honey section. I thought it might be SHB larvae but now I believe its bee larvae. Will the queen lay eggs in a cell with uncapped honey or did the workers fill it with nectar after the queen laid in it?

The hive has about six bars of honey with half of those uncapped. If i pull/store some of them, will that leave enough for them to get through the summer dearth. They do have a good bit of capped honey in the upper sections of the brood. The worst bars are in the brood nest at the top where the honey bands adjoin the next bars. Pulling them would be counter productive, right? I will refrain from putting the spacers in and try to work with the hand I was dealt.

The hive plans came from BackYard. I will ask them their thoughts on this but I am not expecting an unbiased opinion. Past experience!!

Thx again for sharing your wisdom with a first year beek.
 

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Club,
If you are not making mistakes, you are not pushing the envelope for your self.

trimming them as Greg said should help.

After 40 years I have made a few mistakes this year, so do not let an oops or 2 deter you.

GG
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thx GregV for the illustration. If I am understanding this correctly, I cut off the honey band section that is encroaching onto the next bar. Let the cut off comb fall to the bottom and let the honey drip. Will the bees repair it while following the "bee space" rule or will they adjoin it again? Why are the bees not playing by the rules? Is there something I am doing wrong or are the bees just being bees? The V cut into the bottom of the top bars go almost to the sides of the hive. Probably less than 3/8" spacing. Could this be contributing to the burr comb being made on each end of the bars?
 

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Thx GregV for the illustration. If I am understanding this correctly, I cut off the honey band section that is encroaching onto the next bar. Let the cut off comb fall to the bottom and let the honey drip. Will the bees repair it while following the "bee space" rule or will they adjoin it again? Why are the bees not playing by the rules? Is there something I am doing wrong or are the bees just being bees? The V cut into the bottom of the top bars go almost to the sides of the hive. Probably less than 3/8" spacing. Could this be contributing to the burr comb being made on each end of the bars?
The bees will do the most efficient repairs possible - will just recap what you sliced off at the new spec.
The same goes when you slice off the attached comb off the walls - generally they will not re-attach them back again.

In fact, they will not only pickup spilled honey, but also recycle the sliced off wax (there will be nothing left on the hive bottom in few days).

I would not worry about what you are doing or the wrong bees.
Get things to be good enough (but don't try to be perfect) and worry less.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thx for the encouragement Goose. It is a marathon and not a sprint that's for sure. My 4 months of beekeeping pales in comparison to your 40 years. Just making mistakes and learning as I go. On a side note, my other hive is a Cathedral and I can't imagine another design being more bee friendly and easier to manage than it. It is almost a hands off hive. I know zero about the Lang or Warre, so I have nothing to compare it to except my other KTB. It gets more of a bad rap than the traditional horizontal hive but overall it is "da bomb dot com."
 
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