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Thread: Top bar hives

  1. #11
    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mellifera Crofter View Post
    Thanks Jon, DR and Drumgerry.
    I'm a very careful handler of bees, Jon. The problem is usually when putting the boxes together - particularly the poly ones with their wider side walls.
    Some people put on the super at an angle to the brood box and then rotate it around slowly to sit properly on the box below.
    personally, I find that will always catch a few bees.
    I prefer to line up the super with the brood box at the front edge and drop it back very slowly while using the smoker to clear the brood box edges of bees.
    DR's wedges would help here as a heavy super can be tricky enough to drop down slowly holding it with one arm.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mellifera Crofter View Post
    I've moved your quote here to 'altnerantive beekeeping', Madasafish, away form Maud bees.

    I've often heard those last two criticisms about TBHs, but I don't understand why they should either produce less honey or be more labour-intensive. Can you, or somebody else, please explain (before I turn a stack of wood I have waiting into two TBHs).

    Kitta
    When you think about bees in their natural habitat - holes in trees or rocks - they grow vertically , expanding sideways to a limited amount.

    To get a sideways hive to expand - given that bar depth is finite at around 300mm - you really have to manipulate the brood nest and spread it otherwise they tend to get crowded or honey bound and swarm.
    Then the heat is all at the top of the bars and if you have an OMF and NO bottom to the hive, it will be pretty cold at times in the lower part of the hives and the bees will not extend downwards - except in really warm weather. And the designs as shown have top bars resting on a single side wall exposed to the outside so warm air can escape easily.

    I have amended the design to have :
    1. a bottom board under the OMF which is removable but stays in place ALL year (my tests vs no board were conclusively in favour of a board) with limited = less than 10 mm = gap between hive and board for air intake. Much more and the bees find it cold at the bottom.

    2. A roof which overlaps the top bars by at least 200mm so the bar/wall interface is entirely shielded from wind and rain. (we get driving horizontal 50mph winds with rain in winter) . This prevents - or reduces air and warmth losses.

    3. At least 30mm insulation directly on top of the top bars to reduce heat losses through the bars and the same again within the roof .
    Insulation on the side walls of 30mm . (I use aluminium foil based Celotex . Kingspan or Reticel or similar is fine. I buy mine used to save money.)

    4. A greater depth of wood below the OMF and before the floor to reduce draughts from the gaps around the bottom.

    See http://www.flickr.com/photos/6752908...7635170002333/

    Hinged roof with the overlap in the sidewalls of the roof.

    People who have tried to winter TBHs round here - Staffordshire Moorlands - 500 feet above see level - on edge of the Peak District - without bottom boards have failed dismally to get colonies to survive.

    Despite my insulation etc, pick up in spring is far slower than Nationals. (uninsulated!)

    Honey yields - in a bad year the bees need all their stores to survive winter here. In a good year 10kgs of honey per hive is possible.

    The problem is the design is very heat inefficient and the manipulation of the brood nest to speed up spring build up - is a pia as you only know where the bees are upon opening - although feeling the top bars can guide you - warmer above the brood nest.

    Manipulating a framed vertical hive is much easier.

    I have two warres and they survive winter well.. but they are vertical..

    Our temperature ranges are: summer 18 to 30C.. Average under 25C

    Winter: 1C to -18C . Last three years have seen -16C or lower for up to a week.
    (Badly installed condensing boilers have frozen )
    Last edited by madasafish; 31-10-2013 at 03:24 PM.

  3. #13

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    Hi Kitta

    http://www.homebase.co.uk/webapp/wcs...tNumber=453949
    453949_R_Z001.jpeg

    £4.99 for 22
    My ones all black from a few years ago it might be best to nip into the DIY and have a look to see if they are ok for the job

  4. #14
    Senior Member Mellifera Crofter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by madasafish View Post
    ... To get a sideways hive to expand - given that bar depth is finite at around 300mm - you really have to manipulate the brood nest ...

    The problem is the design is very heat inefficient and the manipulation of the brood nest to speed up spring build up - is a pia as you only know where the bees are upon opening - although feeling the top bars can guide you - warmer above the brood nest.

    Manipulating a framed vertical hive is much easier.

    ...
    Thanks for an interesting reply, Mike, and for the link to your hives.

    So is it this extra manipulation of the brood area that makes a TBH more labour-intensive?

    If I do make a hive, I will also use a deep roof like you have done and, as I've already mentioned to Drumgerry, an eke with top insulation. I will also figure out a way to provide food above the cluster, and to see the bees from above.

    If the hive has top insulation, and the floor is covered up, and the bees have food above the cluster, then I can't see why they should fare worse than bees in a wooden National with top insulation - but I take your word for it.

    I'll let you know if I've made the hive.

    Kitta

  5. #15
    Senior Member Mellifera Crofter's Avatar
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    Thanks for the link, DR. I think I've seen wedges in Travis Perkins in Turriff - or I'll just cut a few. I have a band-saw - so that's easy.
    Kitta

  6. #16

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    Not trying to dishearten you Kitta or be really negative but wouldn't it be as well just to have the bees in an ordinary hive if you're going to have to go to the trouble of all these design modifications? Isn't the point that they're meant to be low tech and easy to build? However you decide to proceed though I wish you well.

    Oh and has anyone mentioned cross-combing? That was one of the things that killed TBHs for me. I practically had to pull the brood nest apart any time I wanted to get a look at it. Not good for the bees and not good for my blood pressure!

  7. #17
    Senior Member Mellifera Crofter's Avatar
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    I'll try and keep it low-tech, Drumgerry. I don't think giving the hive an overhanging roof, or spacing the top bars, will add complications ... Or perhaps it will. The big roof might be heavy. I'll think about it. I'm forever turning designs around in my head - not so much in practice.
    Kitta

  8. #18
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    I've only had one cross combing in 4 years.
    I use triangular guides.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/6752908...7636895293793/

  9. #19
    Senior Member Mellifera Crofter's Avatar
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    I forgot about cross-combing - a frequent complaint. You've done well though, MF. I'll remember about the triangular guides.
    Kitta
    PS - except that Drumgerry mentioned it ...
    Last edited by Mellifera Crofter; 31-10-2013 at 09:45 PM.

  10. #20

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    I think it's fair to say though that big hives like the Glen hive needed brood spreading an other manipulations as well and they were standard size frames.
    I haven't used one but apparently despite all the frames the bees would confine themselves to the centre and sometimes swarm without even using the outside frames
    The way they got round that was by spreading the brood nest which is a skill in itself because if you get it wrong then the bees make queen cells and swarm anyway

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