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I've read that a number of people suggest creating top bar hives with two bar widths - a narrower width for brood, and a wider width for honey storage.

So, when you first introduce bees to a hive like this, what is the typical set-up?

Do you just move the follower board up and leave brood frames for them to work initially? When should the bees be given access to the wider bars?

Adam
 

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:thumbsup: I am with you on that question and do not know the correct answer! I am bullheaded and needed a hive quick, had enough wood to make a slopped sided TBH 4' long and used all 1 3/8" wide bars X 19" of 3/4" stock , datoed the ends to 1/2", 1/8" length wise kerf, poured in wax, done. Put in a swarm and they took off, built back 12 combs in a couple of months. I am building two long deeps now that will accept standard lang. deep frames, but the bars will be 1" wide w/ 3/8" spacers. One with the kerf & wax the other with a triangle bottom. I figure the bees will make the comb whatever thickness they want anyway. Besides the bars will be all interchangeable or I can use standard frames.
 

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My tbh plans for spring -

48" L ktbh's

10 top bars, 5 @ 1 1/4 for brood and 5 @ 1 1/2" for stores. Follower board keeping 10 bars space nice and small.

All 10 bars have starter strips.

as colony expands, fill empty 1 11/4" bars in between drawn bars, the bees should use the drawn on either side as guides, no need for starter strips. Same for stores bars area.

move follower board back as needed.

Don't know if that's any help

Big Bear
 

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That's the beauty of the follower board. You can have the hive accommodate the needs of the bees in terms of area they can control most effectively.

I go by the idea that it takes one comb of stores to support one comb of brood.

your mileage may vary

Big Bear
 

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your bees will tell you what they want to do, when they are happy with the brood area, and they have a good flow, they will start to make a honey bar, it will more than likely start on a small bar, and you will need to add a shim to adjust the space, i make shims the same length as the bars and variable widths. I make them as small as 1/8" and as wide as 1/4". I had one hive that made a bar so wide it took two 1/4" inch spacers to get them back on track, if you don't use the spacers, they will join the bars together. Once they make the first bar of honey, at that point put the larger bars behind that one, and continue to use shims as needed my bars are 1 1/2" and still not enough space. The smaller bars you will more than likely want to install in the brood area one at a time to increase the size of the brood and to prevent a swarm. For a first year hive I would not add more than one bar at a time to the brood area, as you will not have enough bees to fill the space, and you could chill the brood.
 

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I start with the 1 1/4" at the front, which is where they typically cluster when I install them. When they start to draw deeper combs for honey I start moving the 1 1/2" to the edge of where they are building and start feeding the 1 1/4" into the center of the brood nest. This gets them drawn nicely while expanding the brood nest and preventing swarming.
 

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I start with the 1 1/4" at the front, which is where they typically cluster when I install them. When they start to draw deeper combs for honey I start moving the 1 1/2" to the edge of where they are building and start feeding the 1 1/4" into the center of the brood nest. This gets them drawn nicely while expanding the brood nest and preventing swarming.
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Michael - do you use follower boards? I will have my first TBH setup this spring (w a 3# package of buckfast bees). MY TBH has 30 bars...and I've read conflicting opinions about the use of follower boards. I want to do the right thing for the bees. Many thanks.
 

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Hi,
I use all 32 mm bars and have a bunch of 6 mm spacer strips, works great. Reducing space during winter or for small splits is imho needed, make some follower boards just in case.
 
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