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Lois 

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I was speaking to an experienced beek today and I discussed with him my idea to make a TBH over winter because I think I will find the weight of a full super too much to handle.
After he finished spitting ( thats his opinion about TBH's) he said that you can get a bungalow national!
Do any of you lovely lot know about these?
It would mean I could still use my national foundation and not have to worry about the weight, inspecting would be easier, he 'advised' that TBH frames were difficult to inspect both sides of.

The inspection problem I can envisage would be that because I inspect from the side the middle frames would be a long reach away!
 

Silly Bee 

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I've only seen one TBH in use, I think the idea is, is that they are cheap to make, (favorite in The Zambia) and require little resources.

Biggest prob I could see was if the queen starts laying in the "super" ad messes the honey store.

That and providing feed if they need it.

Someone put a design here recently. they can be raised off the ground to allow access from the front or side by wheelchair users.

Could be a boon to the less able beeks.
 

Erichalfbee 

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Can't you have two half supers on a National?
Tom Bick does half supers I'm sure.
So do O***t :leaving:
 

aberreef 

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Not sure about the national bungalow but the tbh frames are easy enough to inspect, you've just got to remember not to try flipping the frame because the comb may split. You simply keep the comb pointing down and do what you've got to do:hurray:

This is only my first year beekeeping but find the tbh way easier to handle than the national (lighter, bees calmer etc). The queen will lay her eggs on consecutive frames so you won't get eggs through your honey stores, the workers simply move the honey to the next frame along as necessary.

Tbhs are not as productive as the more conventional hive designs because the bees have to make all the comb for storage fresh each year,so if large amounts of honey is what you're after than maybe they're not for you.

HTH

Huw
 

Brosville 

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There really is the most dreadful load of venemous old tosh spouted about top bar hives - especially from those with no direct experience of them!
They are absolutely ideal for people unable to lift, and can easily be "worked" from a wheelchair - inspections are easy, all you have to do is to take care handling the unsupported comb, and should you wish to do things like splits and artificial swarms, those can be done too.......
They really aren't the first choice for maximum honey yields, and suit a far more laid-back approach all round - as has been mentioned, many report that bees are calmer in a TBH.
Personally, I'm as yet undecided as to whether TBH or Warre hives are my favourites - both have their points, but certainly a TBH is perfect for anyone with back or mobility problems..
About the only drawback I've found with top bar hives is the deeply ingrained prejudice and ignorance amongst many beekeepers towards them - the hives have many advantages - they won't suit everybody, but for many they're ideal..........

ps no problem whatsoever feeding a tbh - here's my own way of doing it....... http://www.navitron.org.uk/forum/index.php/topic,7561.0.html
 
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Brosville 

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I should add that they are not ludicrously expensive, can be made easily and cheaply from free plans, and need no hyper marketing campaign to sell them - they also don't come in garish plastic which'll end up in landfill, but if left will gently biodegrade........ (says he sensing a sideswipe at my dislike of 'orrible superannuated placcy beer coolers........):biggrinjester:
 

drstitson 

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half supers

when i bought my hives i ordered some custom half supers so that the other half (with arthritis) could manage.
if you get appropriate floor, roof and crown board made you can use two clipped together to produce a nuc.
 
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I agree TBHs are ideal for the disabled but they are also good for people with little storage space - such as those living in a flat. They are also cheap to make and maintain - for example no frames or foundation to buy.

As mentioned above they are perhaps not best for large honey crops and getting a runny honey out of them is a bit involved although Swienty do an extractor for TBH hives. The bees can be fed by putting fondant or just a damp bag of sugar in the bottom of the hive or for "natural" beekeeping take only the surplus honey and leave them enough of their own stores to get through the winter, avoiding the need to feed. The advantage over a Warre for me is you can inspect a TBH for disease whereas the Warre is more a sort of "hope and pray" hive with respect to disease although of course the theory is the bees in their perfect isolation will not succumb to diseases or parasites. I know a good beekeeper who is completely sold on Warre's and he isn't beekeeping through rose-tinted spectacles but for me the jury is still out on Warres.

I also know a beekeeper who keeps a TBH in his garden and does almost nothing with it except surround it with bait hives and collects swarms from it. As a swarm producer it is second to none and I don't mean this in a derogatory sense - the bees are clearly thriving with minimal intervention from the beekeeper.
 
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darrenperrett 

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I fancy building a TBH with 3 entrances and some division boards just to use for raising Q`s.
I`ll wait untill winter, the urge may pass :)
 

Gardenbees 

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Back to Lois' original idea: on the "bungalow" theme - it sounds like my home-made long hive, which takes 14x12 National frames. It's about 4 foot long, and has a home-made "Happy keeper" style tube varroa floor. I started it with a BS 5-frame nuc (i.e. shorter frames, the bottoms of which have conveniently been used for drone brood). I tend to put foundationless frames in there, and there's also some top bars. No major varroa or other problems so far, and the many wasps of this season have got short shrift. There's some pictures in my album.

Top bars are great: the bees can do their natural thing, which is to drape themselves in necklaces under the bars as if measuring out everything in bee-lengths. In my hive this results in faster comb-building than when they draw out the foundation. Cut comb from top bars is really special, but they definitely teach you to be careful - especially with fresh, soft, new comb. As long as you've got the time and patience I can't really fault them though. You can even shake the bees off to inspect the brood comb as long as you're careful. My long hive bees are a hell of a lot quieter than the colony in my National hive, and have done a great deal better this year, although exactly why is hard to say. I suppose they may just have been a better colony from the start, or perhaps it's just a bit warmer and drier than the National. In any case it seems to suit them.

As far as I know, long hives are popular in many parts of Europe (e.g. Scandinavia, Russia and bumper-honey-producing Ukraine). I've found that they overwinter well (you can move up the follower board to fit the hive space to the bees, so they don't have to keep the whole hive space warm). Mine is versatile and seems to suit the bees well. And if I decide to use all top bars, or go off them and use all foundation-based BS frames, it's simple enough to change. It's the same width as a National, so I can put supers on too if the bees manage to fill up the whole hive. Or I can "go Dartington", and put a second colony in the opposite end, e.g. from a shook swarm. Re-uniting is straightforward. Feeding is OK; you can make a frame feeder like the ones in this thread, or use jumbo feeders on top of the frames, under a gabled or extended roof, or in a suitable rim/eke.

Drawbacks: frames are standard, but the hive is home-made and this style isn't readily available, although one or two suppliers make them (e.g. honeybeesuppliers, near Banbury, had some on their website: http://www.honeybeesuppliers.co.uk/Hives.htm - haven't tried this particular hive so can't vouch for how good they are). Other drawbacks: it's heavy to lift if you want to shift the colony around; and if you use top bars or foundationless frames then you will be into wax production as much as honey - bees use a lot more energy to make wax than to store honey, so the overall harvest will be less, but you will get a lot of very fresh, clean wax (which I personally find as valuable).

Having used both, I will be sticking to long hives in the future, for what it's worth.
 

Lois 

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Thank you all for all your replies! its great to get so many ideas although I'm still no closer in deciding what route to go to :)
 
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Excuse my ignorance but can somebody explain to me why there are references to TBHs and Warre hives as if indicating that a Warre is not a TBH?
 

Teebeeaitch 

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" Excuse my ignorance but can somebody explain to me why there are references to TBHs and Warre hives as if indicating that a Warre is not a TBH?"

You are right, Warres are TBH's. I think the idea is to differentiate between the Warre which is a vertical TBH and the Kenyan and Tanzania hives which are horizontal TBH's.
 
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3 National Hives & 1 Observation Hive.(Indoors) & lots of empty boxes..
Ta.

I assumed as much but like to make sure...
 

Adam 

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Your plan sounds like a Dartington, which really is a "half-way" house between a horizontal TBH and a National. As someone else mentioned, you can make supers easier by sawing them in half, adding a small strip of plywood, and you have only half the weight to lift.

Adam
 

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