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Thread: Top bar hive seduction!

  1. #1

    Smile Top bar hive seduction!

    Hello all! I seem to have become braver as I have become wrinklier! I am now very keen to have a couple of hives!

    I have happened upon a lot of info on top bar hives and am intrigued! My concern is that Scotland may be a bit chilly for this type of hive? I wondered whether building the sides out of 2 inch thick wood, and filling both ends with wood shavings in the winter would be of benefit in this respect?

    Does anyone have experience of this type of hive in Scotland?
    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Administrator gavin's Avatar
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    Welcome, Pufff! Insulation in any hive is an issue in some winters, and Top Bar Hives may suffer from that more than most. If you are going to modify a top bar design to improve it for colder climates then I'd also consider the top as that is where insulation is most effective. I haven't tried one myself, but there was some discussion on here from someone who had (was it drumgerry?). We're setting up an association apiary near Dundee and although we are not buying a TBH one member - in the true spirit of the thing - was hoping to make one from recycled timber.

    The one thing that worries most established beekeepers is the ethos that goes with them. Varroa is a serious problem, and whatever method you use to keep on top of them it has to be effective. Some prominent TBH enthusiasts keep losing their bees because of their light touch with Varroa control.

    all the best

    Gavin

    PS There's nothing wrong with getting a bit wrinkly!

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    Senior Member Mellifera Crofter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gavin View Post
    The one thing that worries most established beekeepers is the ethos that goes with them. Varroa is a serious problem, and whatever method you use to keep on top of them it has to be effective. Some prominent TBH enthusiasts keep losing their bees because of their light touch with Varroa control.
    Gavin, why would it be more difficult to manage Varroa in a TBH - particularly if it has a ventilated floor?
    Kitta

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    Administrator gavin's Avatar
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    Hi Kitta

    Managing Varroa in a TBH is no different from managing it in a framed hive, it is just that some of the main proponents of TBHs also advocate minimal intervention for mites, and that is risky unless you know very well what you are doing.

    cheers

    Gavin

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    Senior Member chris's Avatar
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    Hello Pufff. Are you thinking of a horizontal TBH, or a vertical? One inch thick wood is enough for the climate here, which goes down to -20 in winter.

    Gavin, my experience of people who drive BMW cars leaves me with a certain opinion of them. That doesn't mean that a BMW is not a beautiful piece of engineering which has the potential to be driven in many ways.

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    Senior Member POPZ's Avatar
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    Puff, welcome aboard wrinkles and all! But I doubt if you can beat mine.

    By coincidence, I got mine (TBH) out of store today, erected it, and photographed it as I have finally decided that it should be used for the purpose it was designed for, rather than storing things in! My reason is that I rather like the theory and idea of natural comb building. It will be very interesting the see the results over the coming season. That is, of course, I can provide some inhabitants.

    Regarding winter insulation, I will be using foam insulation board under the roof and open mesh floor.

    Good luck to you and look forward to hearing your results.

    Richard

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    When I first started beekeeping my plan was to try every hive design one by one and make up my own mind. One of the designs I tried was the Dartington so I built two to give them a fair trial. I persevered with them for about 5 years before eventually giving up. I came to the strong conclusion that, in our climate, bees don't like to store honey beside the brood. They much prefer to store it above, probably so that they can take advantage of the warmth rising from the brood below to help ripen the honey. This was in Derbyshire and in a climate that was much milder than the one I now enjoy in the mountains of Wales.

    I suspect that Puff will find the same problem with a top bar hive in Scotland.

    When you also consider the difficulty in applying oxalic acid, inspecting and extracting clean honey I wonder if they are worth even trying. It seems to me that the only good thing about them is the fact that they don't need foundation but there is no law that says you must put foundation in a National, a Smith of any other conventional hive.

    Half the fun of beekeeping is trying new stuff so I would not want to put anyone off a top bar hive but I would hate to think that the hype associated with them had misled someone into thinking they were better than they really are.

    Rosie

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    I think that's what's put me off trying a top bar hive in the near future, the long design versus going up. But someone asking for a mentor was intending to use one and we've a couple of people with them also on the allotment so I'm hoping to get some hands on experience with them this year.

    A lot of the sales pitch that goes with them from some of the "natural" crowd does worry me, but I do enjoy discussing them, especially with new beekeepers and making the point that a lot of what is claimed of a Top Bar can or just does also apply to any other kind of hive and is mainly down to the beekeeper.

    All that being said, I also agree with Steve that if it interests you and you've got the opportunity to try it out, go for it and see how you get on.

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    Hi Rosie,

    Interesting it what you say about the Dartington. My mentor Ben is going to build one this year. When he was showing me his plan I thought there was boxes 'supers' on top. Will let you know how he gets on.

    Jimbo

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    You're right of course Jimbo - they do have supers, half size ones. I used normal supers for mine and got some honey in when I fitted them early, before half the brood box was anything like full, but the experience showed me that they ignore the ends of a large box and can't wait to move up into supers. With large 14x12 frames the AMM brood only needed about 6 frames so the rest needed to be filled with honey. They much referred to chimney up the centre and put honey in the 6 frames above the brood. In my standard 14x12 boxes the problems are similar but do not seem to be so noticeable although I do have to turn the supers around to make sure they fill completely.

    Rosie

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