my top-bar hive pictures

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by justgojumpit, Jun 15, 2004.

  1. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    here is a picture of my top-bar hive from the outside. I built it from scratch!

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    here is a picture of the entrance holes. I will be adding one hole to each front top corner of the hive to improve ventilation.

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    here are the frame rests i built for the hive. these come in handy more than one would think :)

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    here is a picture with the cover off. you can now see the top bars, which are the only support point that the bees use to build their natural comb. each top-bar is 1 3/8 inches wide, except the front and back, which are 1 9/16 inches wide to accomodate a bee space against the front and back walls of the hive.

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    here is a picture of one of the top-bars, with the wooden spline for the bees to build from. i rubbed the bottom of the spline with beeswax to show the bees where they're supposed to build. i also melted the splines into a sawkerf in the topbars with beeswax. one fell during warm weather, hence the string tied around each top-bar to make sure this won't happen again. i would recommend a hot glue gun ;)

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    Natural Comb!!!

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    Natural comb, rearmost comb removed. the bees build these combs leaving only a beespace between the comb, hive walls, and bottom board.

    i hope you enjoyed my pics! let me know what you think.

    justgojumpit
     
  2. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    i will add more pics of completed combs when i do my next full hive inspection. this was just a quick peek to let you all have a look!

    justgojumpit
     

  3. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    Cool, I've never seen a top-bar hive before. Looks strong.

    Lookin' forward to more pictures.
     
  4. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    this is a very strong hive. they have drawn comb on 13 top bars (i think) but each top bar is bigger than a conventional deep frame. One of the biggest advantages of the top-bar hive is that the hives are much cheaper. i also find this hive much more fun to work than my two langstroth hives. however, i will keep the lang hives because these will allow me to sell splits to other beekeepers. i am currently starting up a new beekeeper, who is buying two lang hives, and two splits (matured to the point of having a laying queen) from me for $80 each ($90 each for one, $80 each for more than one) One of the benefits with the top bar hive in this aspect is the bees raise more drones in top-bar hives, thus saturating my apiary with drones of desireable genetics to breed with my virgin queen.
     
  5. Queen Bee

    Queen Bee Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I love these pictures! Show us more and tell us all about you hive!! Keep us updated, please! Do you add all the top bars at once or as needed? What are your measurements and angles of the hive?
     
  6. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    the top bars are all added at once, as would be frames in a lang hive. the only measurements that matter are top-bars 1 3/8 inches wide, 3/16 inch spacers between the front and rear wall and the top-bars (i built these into the front and rear top-bars themselves) and a 120 degree angle between the bottom board and the sloping sides. this is the angle at which diagonal cells are to horizontal cells in honeycomb, and therefor this results in less comb attachments to the sides of the hive. i have had ZERO connections between combs, and minimal connections to the walls, which the bees do not rebuild once i remove the connections. this is my favorite hive. i would recommend building one for the pure enjoyment and learning experience it offers.

    justgojumpit
     
  7. I have just been looking at your top-bar hive and find it very interesting. I think the English bees would just fill it with brace comb. They seem to need the guidance of wax foundation and even then still manage to fill any spaces with wax.
    Here (England), we call a starter colony, not a split but a nucleus. Which would consist of 5 frames, with stores, capped brood, uncapped brood and eggs. Hopefully dependent up on the beekeeper, with a queen.
    The pictures are great but I think I will stick with my Nationals. Regards. Dave Taylor.
     
  8. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    you see, Dave, that's the thing. with the slanted sides, the bees tend to regard the walls and the bottom board as the floor of the hive, and build relatively few connections, which, once removed, they do not replace. It is necessary, however, to make sure your dimensions are correct so as not to leave any spaces larger or smaller than the bee space, thus eliminating the problem of burr comb. My only problem thus far has been slightly curved combs, curving toward the entrance at the ends of the bars. to solve this, i add an empty bar between two straight combs. the bees will draw this out, and then i will add another bar forward. As i get a good number of straight combs, i will move the curved ones toward the back of the hive for honey storage once the brood all hatches and the bees use up any pollen, and i will keep the straight combs for the brood nest. this way, i will eventually phase out any curved comb, and be left with only straight comb, which is easy enough to maintain once you have some to use as a guide for the bees.

    Dave, i encourage you to try a tbh as an experiment. if it doesn't work, you can always transfer the bees into a traditional hive, and hang out the top-bar combs with brood to be robbed, after harvesting any combs of honey.

    just my 2 cents,

    justgojumpit

    justgojumpit
     
  9. Cara

    Cara Well-Known Member

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    HI there...great pictures. I was wondering if this type of hive would be good for an almost 10 year old novice bee keeper. He has been interested for almost two years, but we wanted to be sure it wasn't a passing interest, so now we are looking to get him set up. Did you design the plan or is there somewhere we could get plans for it? It is so neat (and pretty, but that's a mom talking:)) and looks like it would be easier for him to handle.
     
  10. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    Cara, I think a top-bar hive would be an excellent option for a tenth year birthday present! (i'm picking that up from the almost ;) ) Some of the advantages of the top-bar hive is that there will be no heavy lifting for your son, no stacks of hive bodies that reach up to his shoulders, and he will get to enjoy watching the bees build up their hive as they would do it in the wild. as he becomes more experienced, he would become interested in managing the hive to achieve straight combs .(mentioned earlier in this post)

    The wonderful thing about a top-bar hive is that dimensions really don't matter. I'll tell you my dimensions. (these may not be exact, but are rough estimates unles noted) Accomodate wherever needed for the thickness of the wood you're using (no less than 3/4 inch wood should be used)

    Hive body:

    bottom of hive: 10 inches interior measurement
    height of hive: 12 inches interior measurement
    sides: whatever they work out to be. the angle between the bottom of the hive and the sides of the hive MUST be EXACTLY 120 degrees, in order to minimize comb attachments.

    front and back: trapezoids to fit

    bottom board length: a multiple (depends on # of top-bars, i like 30) of 1 3/8 inches plus 3/8 inch for the interior, plus the four inches extra for a landing board.


    top-bars: measure the length to fit across the top of the hive, and add the thickness of the wood (which is cut at an angle, so it thicker than the thickness of your lumber. 1 3/8 inches wide. between your front top bar and the front of the hive, you will need a 3/16 inch spacer. same for the back of the hive. make some sort of a spline or ridge down the center of each bar, and rub the bottom edge of this with beeswax, or, even better, dip into melted beeswax. this gives the bees a starting point from which to draw out comb.

    Now make yourself a weatherproof cover, with latches to hold it down during storms.

    now drill entrance holes for the bees to get in and out of the hive. some of these holes will need to be flush with the landing board, so the bees will be able to clear the hive of dead beas and debris. I like the seven holes, 3/4 inch in diameter. I watch the bees, and if they seem to be struggling with not enough entrance room, i pull a cork from another hole, and if they seem to not be using all of their holes, i cork another one of the top ones. i will leave the bees with the bottom three holes for the winter.

    enjoy!

    i hope you're handy, it will take you the better part of a day to build this hive, but it is definitely worth it in the end. i actually find the top-bar hive more fun to work with than my langstroth hives.

    justgojumpit
     
  11. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    OH cool! that makes sence, all the discriptions I have read just didn't get it in my mind. I like!!!!

    thank you for the pictures!
     
  12. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    you're more than welcome!
    wanna make one? then we could compare ours!
     
  13. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    I am leaning that way for sure, I like to be 'different' and I like to low cost of the hives, I will show the photos to hubby.

    How late in the year can hives be started?
     
  14. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    I have no experience starting hives late in the year, but i see your question is being answered in the new thread.
     
  15. Cara

    Cara Well-Known Member

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    Thank you! I printed the instructions, and a couple of the pictures, and did some figuring on dimensions this morning. I think as soon as I get daughter's rabbit hutch done, mom and I will do the hive. I think I'll make it only 20 bars long....if that will be enough room for them? Also, how can I "catch" a hive that is out in a barrel?
     
  16. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    I would make the hive 30 bars long, if i were you. the bees' brood nest will take up 15-20 bars, and once the bees get a certain amount of horizontal space filled, they will stop working so hard. What you need to do to keep this from happening is to keep moving combs backward in the hive, and inserting empty bars in the brood nest or toward the beginning of the honey area. this way the bees will never be satisfied, and will continue working hard for you. Once the back of the hive starts getting filled with combs of honey, harvest some and then continue.

    To "catch" a hive that is out in a barrel, i would smoke the barrel on a good sunny day, open it up, and cut out combs of brood, which you will then hang from your top-bars in a sleeve of chicken wire. make sure the comb is lined up with the spline of the top-bar. the bees will make connecitons to the top-bar, and once you are satisfied you can remove the chicken wire. then harvest any combs of honey for yourself. keep an eye out for the queen. colonies that survive without beekeeper management are bound to be somewhat more resistant to mites and diseases, so you really want to try and keep that queen. now that you have the hive transferred, as much as possible, into your top-bar hive, close up the hive, and place it in the exact spot where the barrel was. dispose of the barrel, or bees will set up another colony in it. Since cells are built slightly slanting upward by the bees, do your very best to keep the combs same-side up when trasferring to your top-bar hive. Now feed the bees sugar, unless there is a heavy nectar flow going on, and enjoy watching the foragers figure out that their home changed shape! Enjoy your honey too.

    One note with top-bar hives: I like to use food grade mineral oil for this type of hive, since i move curved or otherwise deformed brood combs to the back of the hive for use by the bees for honey storage. this way i eventually phase out the bad combs and keep only good ones. If you were to use apistan strips, these combs would be contaminated and the wax would be rendered inedible - thus no good for comb or chunk honey. Now the issue is... yes, i can crush the comb to get out the honey from these combs, but how do i keep track which is which???

    enjoy your hive transfer...

    justgojumpit
     
  17. Ed K

    Ed K Well-Known Member

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    Any update on the top bar hive? Production compared to your other hives? What do you mean earlier than this thread when you were talking about mineral oil? for mite control?
     
  18. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    I will be harvesting honey this weekend from the tbh, so i will plan to take and post some more pics. i'll have to also compare production. one thing that i did notice is that there are a lot of combs with honey, but none of them capped. this was two weeks ago. hopefully they're capped now. this is different from langstroth hives in the sense that they work on many combs at a time. Food grade mineral oil can be used for mite control throughout the year without having to worry about it getting into the honey (hence the food grade). In my lang hives, i have different sized frames in supers and brood chambers, so i don't have to worry about apistan-contaminated frames getting used for honey. in the top-bar hive, i frequently move brood combs back between two combs of honey to keep the brood nest from becoming too congested. i couldn't do this if these combs were contaminated with apistan because the honey produced in these combs after the brood hatched would not be edible due to the contamination. to treat for mites with food grade mineral oil, soak some paper towels in oil (not to the point of dripping, but wet) and hang them between combs or frames, depending on the hive type. the bees will remove the paper, effectively getting the oil on them. when the bees groom, they will transfer this oil over their bodies, and thus over the mites. the oil will clog the pores through which the mites respirate, thus killing them. i will do one massive treatment (3-4 paper towels throughout the brood nest)after the last brood has hatched and the honey is removed. then the bees can spend their time ridding the hive of paper towels and covering themselves in FGMO. another method is to lay a paper towel with FGMO at the entrance to the hive, but then you only treat the bees old enough to enter and exit the hive, not nurse bees. some people replace the paper towels with candle wick, which is also very absorbent.

    justgojumpit
     
  19. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

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    I can't see the pictures, even if I try to right click and "show pictures". Should I do anything different? or can you post?

    Alex