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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What would happen if I put top bars into langstroth boxes? I'm assuming that the bees would attach comb to the sides, and possibly to top of the bars in the box below, thereby making the comb hard to remove. Has anyone tried this? Is there a way to make it work without building complete 4 sided frames?
 

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Try searching the interwebs for warre hives. My understanding is that they use boxes with fixed top bars at the top of each box. I know its not the same idea you are talking about, but maybe you will get some more info on what the bees do with it that way.
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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The only problem is they are too small for a top bar hive at least with solid bars. If you make the bars only 1" wide or less and add more boxes I guess it would work. Then the only real issue is them attaching it to the box below. The sides are easy to deal with, you just cut what few attachments they make (and they will be few) and pull out the bar. The problem is if they attach it to the box below there is no easy way to cut that.
 

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As long as you can get comb mobile it should conform to your areas bee regs, I don't really see the difference between going foundation-less lang frames and top bars, I use tbh because they are horizontal.
 

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I'm more interested in the wax than the honey, so I've been making framed top bars for my lang hive and built my TBH's so that Lang frames will fit for splits et al.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
OK. So I basically inadvertently built a warre hive with langstroth dimensions. I built 2 hives with 2 deeps, 2 mediums, screened bottom board, inner cover, and telescoping top cover. I ripped top bars 1 1/4 inches wide and ripped a shallow indent down the center of each underside of the bars that I'll fill with beeswax. I read that 1 1/4 followed Huber's observations on Mr Bush's website. I took that to mean that the bars should be that wide. But I read that that measurement includes bee space. So I'm thinking that my bars should have no spaces between them. With my dimensions and the bars squeezed together each deep super could hold 11 bars with some extra space. I don't want that many bars, but I'm concerned about the extra space.
I'm going to get my bees on Saturday, and my internet is down (using the library now). I'm not too worried about things, I'm sure the bees will teach me what doesn't work, just trying to clear up the confusion that results from trying to save some money building my own stuff with a beginner's knowledge.
I will cut the bottom of each bar at a 45 degree angle to encourage the bees to follow the angle and not attach to the sides. (thanks bushfarms.com)
Thanks for the advice everyone and please keep it coming if you are able to make sense of what I am trying to do and convey. I'll get over to the library again tomorrow.

Matt.
 

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Yes, the 1 1/4" bars are for a top bar hive that has no space between the top bars. If you do a vertical "top bar hive" then you will want the space to get them to communicate with the next box up. If I were experimenting with a Warre, I'd just take eight frame mediums and put top bars in them. You'll have useful boxes no matter if you decide to go with frames or not. It will be a standard size.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yeh. I decided to just bite the bullet and order some frames. That way they are standard and I can still do foundationless. I'll be able to experiment soon enough when I know what I'm doing a little bit better. Thanks for the advice.
 

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Hi Matt;

After a few messups, I am getting settled into using top bars in Langs hive bodys. Here are my 'rules' for how to do things this way.

Rule 1: Do NOT put top bars on deeps. What I get is meltdown in the 90 degree summer unless I have old comb. That wasn't available on year 1.

Rule 2: Of course be very careful of 'how' to turn the comb up. I've never messed up comb by turning the wrong way. Got used to it on day one and have had no problems with that.

Rule 3: Get a LONG knife from Goodwill to cut the comb loose from walls. Yeah they attach some. You can get used to that and know what to expect just by being careful for the feel of it when getting ready to lift the bars out.

Rule 4: I'm using nothing but shallows now.

Rule 5: I am going to 1" wide bars because the wide ones make it hard to let them stack above without having to fiddle. Four quarter lumber makes that easy. Just rip em to width notch the end down to 3/8" and you're good to go.

Don
 

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I used just the standard frame top bars in two hives four years ago, thinking that this would simulate a top-bar hive without me having to rip top bars and build new hives.

It was a total mess--they did attach to the bars below, and it was very hard to place the top bars properly so that they were exactly parallel and evenly spaced. The side bars on the frames usually help with that.

The result of even slightly improper placement was interconnecting wax across the box.

It took me two years to get the old wax out and get new foundationless frames in.

I would strongly advise against a beginner trying this.
 

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I just went out to check my first top bar hives. It took me 45 minutes to deal with my 3 Langstroth foundationless hives, and 5 minutes to check the two top bar hives.

The langs are ahead because they had old comb. The TBHs are going strong, though.

I like the TBHs because I don't have to bend over so far to work them, and it was remarkable how few bees flew out when I opened each bar. I don't feel I needed the suit and gloves at all.

I'm going to build 3 more TBHs that will fit the frames from my langs and convert entirely. Can you use shims to fill in the tops of the frames?

I always have trouble with cross comb--the reason doing the langs took so long is that I had to cut off double comb and tie the comb to frames--one frame in each of two boxes and two frames in one.

If I had a frame spacer, that would help, but I so much like the ease of working a TBH--higher-level work area, more precise spacing so less cross comb, and less disturbance to the bees.
 

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Matt;

Sent you an off forum message.

Perhaps I should 'splain myself' a bit better from the beginning.

Last year I started with pure top bar Kenyans, and 'migrated' over to Langstroth stacking late in season. I'm doing essentially the Warre style on Langstroth size hybrid using top bars with stacking the hive bodys this year. Originally built to be able to do that as desired. Have not been at it quite long enough to find out how much to self flog for whatever kinds of 'gee that was stupid' stuff comes up except that the original bars wee 1 1/2" x length and NOT meant to go into the Langstroth rabbets. Made the bars longer to drop them onto the langstroth hive bodys. It worked sort of nicely but for the transition... was too limiting. They all have to be 'top layer' bars now. Note: They didn't seem to do much wall attachments with those original bars. Interesting.

Failed to comment on something you said.

Quoted from Mattgang
"So I'm thinking that my bars should have no spaces between them.
With my dimensions and the bars squeezed together each deep super
could hold 11 bars with some extra space. I don't want that many
bars, but I'm concerned about the extra space."

Michael is right about the problem with bees being unable to go 'up' to the above sections if you use 1 1/4" wide top bars pushed together tight.

I'm going to adapt over towards top entrances some (Thanks Michael) so that will change some things fairly easier than other alternatives would have.

As to them sticking things together...

I attack with my separation knife (an 8" turkey slicing knife) and hive tool both at the ready. One gentle clean slice and the sides are separated ok.

They seem to have the habit of sticking the comb to the walls some lately with my newer version of top bars. That 'might' be because the original bars were easy to have set perfectly by their length being cut to match perfectly with the length of the hive bodys of their batch.

My hives really have not developed far enough yet to see how much problem there will be in attaching comb to the 'floor' section below. So far the areas that are developed seem to be no problem.

Elmbarr seemed concerned with use of top bars without any kind of control on spacing the bars. He probably has a point with that. If your bars get misplaced a tiny bit they can easily start sticking them together. I'm careful, but it is a fairly noticable issue how important his point is. I'm planning to have a home grown spacer tool made shortly to help that out.

The 'build my own' philosophy reigns here. Have built like... 30-40 hive body units with another two dozen on the way right now.

My own 'law of the land' here is no more deeps with bars ever... period. Loss of just one big comb that fell off full of brood back in hot August was enough to decide to go all shallows.

Elmbarr, I don't understand what space you're asking about...

"Can you use shims to fill in the tops of the frames?"

What are you trying to fill in?

Don
 

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The top of a frame is about an inch, leaving 3/8" for bee space between two frames. If you were to put a frame in a TBH, you would need to fill in the bee space, I think.

I was proposing a shim between the Langstroth frames if you were to put them in a TBH--to close off the beespace.

Ellen
 
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