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Anyone use Top Bar Hives?


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6 replies to this topic

#1 Offline Acutus - Posted April 28 2019 - 4:48 PM

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Always wanted to try this was wondering if anyone has?


Billy

 

Currently keeping:

Camponotus chromaiodes

Camponotus castaneus

Formica subsericea


#2 Offline AntPhycho - Posted April 29 2019 - 3:38 PM

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I have always shied away from top bar beehives due to a few reasons. One of the main reasons is that the top bar style hives can not be added on to. This means that there is no way to expand the hive when populations start to get large. This will force the bees to either swarm (leave the hive) or stop producing honey. When it comes to harvesting, it is next to impossible to extract honey without destroying all of your drawn honey comb which takes the bees sufficient time to generate.


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#3 Offline Acutus - Posted April 29 2019 - 7:01 PM

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I have always shied away from top bar beehives due to a few reasons. One of the main reasons is that the top bar style hives can not be added on to. This means that there is no way to expand the hive when populations start to get large. This will force the bees to either swarm (leave the hive) or stop producing honey. When it comes to harvesting, it is next to impossible to extract honey without destroying all of your drawn honey comb which takes the bees sufficient time to generate.

 

With a large enough top bar box you can expand. Typically they are long and you only give the bees as much space as they need. there is a block in the back. When the bees need more room the block gets moved further back and more bars added. there are also Queen excluders. There is the problem that comb is destroyed when extracting though but I'm not commercially producing honey so if the bees take time to make more comb so be it. I'll use the wax I get from the extraction for other things.


  • Nylanderiavividula likes this

Billy

 

Currently keeping:

Camponotus chromaiodes

Camponotus castaneus

Formica subsericea


#4 Offline Nylanderiavividula - Posted May 23 2019 - 5:45 AM

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If I only operated at a backyard/hobby level of say three to four hives, Kenyan top-bar hives are all I would keep.  I have kept KTBHs in the past, and have an accident KTBH right now (one of my swarms went to it).  Top-bar hives are a pleasure to keep and they give you a very intimate look into how the bees arrange their nests naturally (albeit, horizontally).  And yes, you use a follower board to expand or decrease the colony size.  Top-bar hives also make excellent drone-mother colonies for queen breeders because bees make far more drone comb when allowed to draw naturally (which can be a headache at times).  If you decide to keep KTBHs, let me know.  I'd be happy to guide you as best I can.  There are some pitfalls to know about.


  • Acutus likes this
Camponotus castaneus
Camponotus chromaiodes (Pretty sure...)
Brachymyrmex patagonicus
Aphaenogaster sp. (I’ll be working on this species ID, soon)
Pheidole crassicornis

#5 Offline Acutus - Posted May 23 2019 - 7:43 AM

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If I only operated at a backyard/hobby level of say three to four hives, Kenyan top-bar hives are all I would keep.  I have kept KTBHs in the past, and have an accident KTBH right now (one of my swarms went to it).  Top-bar hives are a pleasure to keep and they give you a very intimate look into how the bees arrange their nests naturally (albeit, horizontally).  And yes, you use a follower board to expand or decrease the colony size.  Top-bar hives also make excellent drone-mother colonies for queen breeders because bees make far more drone comb when allowed to draw naturally (which can be a headache at times).  If you decide to keep KTBHs, let me know.  I'd be happy to guide you as best I can.  There are some pitfalls to know about.

 

Thank you very much for your offer! I'm gonna look up how to fashion the box and all and see if I can build it.

I really am fascinated with this style of beekeeping. Right now I'm working on an observation hive that is a Hollow Log. I want to be able to show a "real" honey bee hive is vs the Commercial style. A KTBH would be the ultimate in between. It would also show case that there are other ways to successfully keep bees. :)


Billy

 

Currently keeping:

Camponotus chromaiodes

Camponotus castaneus

Formica subsericea


#6 Offline Nylanderiavividula - Posted May 23 2019 - 1:46 PM

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Years ago, this was the plan I used to build several.  I still have them and can attest to the "workability" of these plans.  http://www.bushfarms...opbarhives.htm If that link doesn't work, type in "Michael Bush top bar hive plans" and it'll pop up.  I used chamfer molding rubbed lightly with wax as my starter strips on the underside of the bars.  I also recommend making all of the bars the same width (a width in between the "worker comb width" and the "honey comb width").  Your bees in a log is called a "bee gum".  They are illegal for commercial purposes because the Department of Agriculture says they can't be treated for AFB, EFB, varroa, tracheal mites, etc. etc.  Not sure about their legality when used as an educational tool...I imagine they'd let you slip by.  I've really wanted to try and keep some skep hives, but I would have to keep them out of sight from the Ag man in my primary apiaries if I wanted to keep 'em...  I have seen some EXCELLENT examples of KTBH's made to be observation hives using plexiglass sides and all.  Usually those designs include a hinging side to allow you to close/darken the observation side when now being viewed (the bees to not like perpetual light exposure).  Anyway, keep us posted!


Camponotus castaneus
Camponotus chromaiodes (Pretty sure...)
Brachymyrmex patagonicus
Aphaenogaster sp. (I’ll be working on this species ID, soon)
Pheidole crassicornis

#7 Offline Acutus - Posted May 23 2019 - 2:36 PM

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Years ago, this was the plan I used to build several.  I still have them and can attest to the "workability" of these plans.  http://www.bushfarms...opbarhives.htm If that link doesn't work, type in "Michael Bush top bar hive plans" and it'll pop up.  I used chamfer molding rubbed lightly with wax as my starter strips on the underside of the bars.  I also recommend making all of the bars the same width (a width in between the "worker comb width" and the "honey comb width").  Your bees in a log is called a "bee gum".  They are illegal for commercial purposes because the Department of Agriculture says they can't be treated for AFB, EFB, varroa, tracheal mites, etc. etc.  Not sure about their legality when used as an educational tool...I imagine they'd let you slip by.  I've really wanted to try and keep some skep hives, but I would have to keep them out of sight from the Ag man in my primary apiaries if I wanted to keep 'em...  I have seen some EXCELLENT examples of KTBH's made to be observation hives using plexiglass sides and all.  Usually those designs include a hinging side to allow you to close/darken the observation side when now being viewed (the bees to not like perpetual light exposure).  Anyway, keep us posted!

 

Yeah I already talked to the Bee Inspector. He's all for it for educational purposes.

Thanks for the plans and advice!!! :D


Billy

 

Currently keeping:

Camponotus chromaiodes

Camponotus castaneus

Formica subsericea





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