How to make frames fit into a top bar hive?

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Hi everyone, i need some advice setting up a top bar hive with bees.
I don't know how i can make the frames from an ordinary hive fit into a top bar when i buy a new colony of bees. Any ideas and advice will be much appreciated, thank you.

Fraser
 

Brosville 

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Generally speaking, you don't! The "usual" way is to start with a swarm - it can be done by cutting the comb about and wiring it to the top bars when starting with a "nuc", but they are designed to work without frames, just a "top bar" (hence the name), allowing the bees to build precisely what they want, and how they want....
 
T

Tom Bick 

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If you check out you tube I think there is a video showing how to cut the frame so as to convert to top bars it looks easy but it is difficult to do and its very easy to break the come along the frame top bar.

This year I converted bees from frames to top bars slowly, basically I had a bb that had room for three frames and the rest converted to a top bars, this converted bb formed part of a reduced lower bb so a double brood. It took most of the season to do but then I was in no rush.

Ideally as Brosville said a swarm would be the ideal situation but also if the colony is strong you could always do a shook swarm with at least one altered frame in the top bar hive.

Also it is not impossible that people may start to produce top bar nucs or if you know of another beekeeper with top bar hive they just may let you have a couple of combs.
 

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New Bee
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Yeah i wish i could get a swarm. But everyone on the net thats trying to sell me bees is selling nucs on frames. I'm a beginner and i dont want to damage the colony or nuc by cutting it up. Do you think i would be best buying a split hive off someone so none of it's on frames ? Is there a good success rate doing it this way? thank you for your reply Brosville.

fraser
 

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Ah thank you Tom Bick that does sound easier just need someone to sell me their bees now. Thank you for the advice
 

Brosville 

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It's generally accepted that the best way is to start with a swarm in a TBH - think about it - the bees have decided they need a new home, so they are ready willing and able to "move in" - in a top bar hive you literally just dump the swarm in, put the top bars and follower boards in place, put the roof on, and walk away...... it's THAT simple! If you're lucky enough to have a friendly swarm man in your area, it'll probably cost you a tenner for petrol.
The bees will be "local", and probably very happy to find a good landlord offering very comfy digs with few rules and regulations......... I'd recommend getting on some local swarm lists, perhaps contact your local authority for whoever is local

KISS (keep it simple....)
 
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Tom Bick 

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Topbar still a national man just helped someone out this year after making them a TBH.

I do like them and will in time have one.

Have you joined a local association its difficult I know given your chosen hive type but associations get plenty of swarms.
 

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Yeah that seems like the best idea. I just hope i have a friendly swarm man that hasn't got a swarm of imported bees. local bees doesn't mean to say they are british. I would like British or as near to british as i can get. Fussy me.....

Also me being a beginner do you think that there may be some anxiety for the swarm man selling me a swarm? Or dont they get swarms because they want to keep them?
How about i buy a nuc and throw the bees in the hive and throw the frames away.... just an idea. Thanks again for the advice really appreciated.

fraser
 

Brosville 

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If it's a local swarm they'll undoubtedly be "mongrels", and probably well suited to the local area - I think the hopes of you getting "pure English bees" are about nil (they really don't actually exist in any numbers - if at all......)
I'd go out of my way to find the local swarm men now, have a friendly chat with them, and find out their attitude towards top bar hives and "newbies" - some local associations can be friendly and helpful with hives like yours, some sadly will treat you as the spawn of Beelzebub, and do their best to stop you getting any bees (hence start now, and ask around.........)

In my experience, swarms come at the most inopportune moment for everyone - the ability to be ready to receive them when the swarm occurs is probably high on the list for swarm collectors - they want to get shot asap...
 

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Tom Bick, Yeah the association seems from what i have read and heard have different ideas towards bee keeping than me and although i'm a beginner i dont think they are right about the way they do things all the time.
I am a bit put off joining an association because there was a photo of the local association people and they were all retirement age and i just feel i'm in the wronge place, because of my age. But i will phone and ask if any want to sell me a swarm.
Thanks for advice.
 

Brosville 

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You can "go it alone" without a local association (I did), but bear in mind they are not the only source of swarms - the local authority will have a list of "swarm men", and it's often best to contact them directly - I doubt an association would part with a swarm to someone who doesn't want to join - some clubs just grab any swarm they can get hold of, and then sell them on with strict conditions attached - "thou shalt use a hive of our choice etc etc etc"
 

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Brosville, sound advice. Such a shame because when i was a boy i used to play in an old mans garden and i remember his bees being black bees very native looking and i used to run through rows of lavitera bushes covered in bees and never got stung. I regret not staying in contact with him he died a few years ago, he was nearly 100 years old. I had an interest in bees then, but never asked enough questions.
Thank you for your help, i will ask my local association about putting me in contact with a swarm man.
 

Brosville 

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Wrong way round - unless you want to join the association they'll probably be unhelpful - go to your local authority, and ask for the contact details of the local swarm bods, and "go direct" - best of luck - in my experience the guys who get the swarms are good-natured, and often happy to help a beginner - some in my area will help those "outside" the local associations as they've had their toes trodden on once too often by petty club "officers" who like ordering them about.......
 

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I did speak to a bee man a month ago at a villlage fair and i asked if he would sell bees and he handed me a leaflet about joining the association. So he was there to gather up some members as well as sell honey.
i thought that the authority would just put me in touch with people from the association as on the leaflet the man gave me it says the association runs a swarm collection service. If the authority is the council they would surely call the local bee association for their swarm collection service. For me i hope this isn't the case.
 
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Tom Bick 

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I don’t see it quite like that topbar.

First associations are full of a mix of people and most are often bohemian at hart. Some of them old crustys have lead more mad exiting lives than most.

You will get mixed response as some will be suspicious of someone coming along and re writing the books and are fearful that you just might be right.

One thing that wont work is that you just call and ask if you can have a swarm as one thing they and in time you will have is a love for the bees and will want to know will the bees go to a good home and not to someone who this year thinks it will be good to keep bees.

I say join your association put in the hours the walls will crumble you will also learn about beekeeping although bee it on framed hives, its really not that different and a framed hive can be run similar to TBH something you will only realise if you have chance to operate both systems, and if you realise its not for you just walk away.
 

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:iagree: with Tom.

I've only been keeping bees since April this year, given 2 colonies by the local associations apiary manager, admittedly I'd been helping him out at every opportunity, and recently acquired two "feral" colonies.

One already hived in a orchard but left to its own devices for "years". Considering the appalling state it was in, it's coming along nicely with eggs,larvae sealed broad and stores in the new broad box but nothing in the super as yet.

The other came from a wasp call, turns out they had wasps in the roof space and bees happily living in a very large bird box. This is now rehived with WelshPaul, his first bees, with me helping him. Bit like the clueless being lead by the totally clueless but that aside, ruddy wasps and our best efforts to the contrary the bees are doing okay so far. Inspections tomorrow?

My point is you've more to gain than loose by joining your local association.

Russ
 

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If you don't want to buy a nuc or wait for a swarm, then buy a package of bees ,3lb of bees with young queen, and install them.
 

Brosville 

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"My point is you've more to gain than loose by joining your local association" - it all depends on your local association - some are friendly, welcoming, and tolerant of all forms of beekeeping, some are stuck firmly in the Victorian era, and sing from the Bayer hymn sheet - my biggest stumbling block was the "chemical company connection" with the BBKA affiliated organisations, and refused to join as a matter of principle - there is no way I'll allow my name to be included as a supporter of such an organisation until there's root and branch reform, a sweeping away of the "politburo" and a complete divorce from the pesticide manufacturers (so I suspect I may be waiting a long time!)
It all depends on your temperament - if you enter one of the "hardcore" associations you'll be virtually forced along their path, unless you have the cojones to go your own way - which will make you about as popular as a pork chop at a bar mitzvah!:biggrinjester:
 

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