Top bar hives

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Ely

Queen Bee
Joined
Dec 13, 2009
Messages
2,689
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Location
Norfolk
Hive Type
Langstroth
Number of Hives
4
I've been reading about them but I'm a little confused to how they work. I can't see how brood and honey stores wouldn't be mixed together on the same combs as they are in the wild. So how do they extract honey without causing great harm to the colony?:confused:
 
Hi

Ely: Brood will cover a solid area, in a long/topbar hive imagine a rugby ball shape on it's side, so you may get some combs of mainly brood faiding out to a mixture of both brood and honey then honey.

You would harvest only those frames of honey on the edge of the brood nest. This can be done by simply harvesting as comb honey or crush and strain.

The next step along from top bar, are hives like the Dartington/beehaus the principle refinement being the top bar has been swapped for a frame.

Bees in long stile hives are often prone to swarming but other than that you can keep bees in anything if you so wish!!!!!!!!!!!!

Regards Ian
 
Ely, i think you are now becoming a Beekepeer, as you are understanding, how a Beekeeper manages his hive

In a top bar you rely on the Queen remaining in the brood area, the stores are biult either side, she can lay anywhere but NORMALLY does not ( does a bee do anything normally :) )

why is a frame hive different, well in a frame hive bees always move up, they i think do this naturally (they certainily always move up in you cloths ?hairs on their back direct them up). if you did not have a Queen Excluder on then the queen moves up but in a top bar she cannot move up, therefore she remains Normally in the brood area

extracting comb in a top bar you just break off the stores leaving the brood
 
Cheers for the help guys. Intersting stuff. I'd never thought about the bees moving up before. Would you say a top bar hive is an option for a beginner? I imagine honey production and hive growth must be a slower progress than say a national hive because of the time it takes the bees to rebuild comb?

Musmetro - Do you drive that bus :driving:?
 
Cheers for the help guys. Intersting stuff. I'd never thought about the bees moving up before. Would you say a top bar hive is an option for a beginner? I imagine honey production and hive growth must be a slower progress than say a national hive because of the time it takes the bees to rebuild comb?

Musmetro - Do you drive that bus :driving:?

No, i do not drive a bus now but i work for Transport for London HQ but i no longer have a PCV licence, as they dont let oldies over 55, like me, drive them :driving: unless you get a re tested and a medical

They would not pay me to do the retest as they privatised the Bus side of Tfl some years ago
 
No I'm not a member. I only visit this forum.
 
ELY, you do need to come and visit either mine or adam's apiary, when we first open up in the spring.
have a look at the top-bar folks forum, http://www.biobees.com/
and download and read about warre hives, as well as kenyan top-bars.
then, give me a ring (pm sent with 'phone number) and we can meet for a beer and a chat.
rgds, Tony.
 
As a beekeeper who has kept bees in TBH's, I can assure you that the queen only lays in the brood nest. As already mentioned, the brood nest is roughly spherical and expands and contracts with the season. In a conventional hive, this sphere can go up into the super and hence the need for a QE. In a TBH, the sphere is more rugby ball shaped and the squashed sphere of brood expands sideways as well as vertically with the season. Instead of a super, there are combs adjacent to the brood nest which the bees use to store honey. These are the honeycombs which are harvested. Any comb with brood in it is left intact for the bees in the hive no matter how much honey is also on the comb.

Norm
 
Hi

"extracting comb in a top bar you just break off the stores leaving the brood"

I am afraid it doesn't really work like that, if there are any frames of mixed stores and brood then stores are normally at the top of the frame, making it some what difficult to glue the brood back on:svengo:

Regards Ian
 
Hi

"extracting comb in a top bar you just break off the stores leaving the brood"

I am afraid it doesn't really work like that, if there are any frames of mixed stores and brood then stores are normally at the top of the frame, making it some what difficult to glue the brood back on:svengo:

Regards Ian

I read that to mean that you take away the stores that are on the bars outside of the brood nest rather that taking stores from within the brood nest ;)
 
Hi Taff

Yes you could well be right......................


Regards Ian
 
I read that to mean that you take away the stores that are on the bars outside of the brood nest rather that taking stores from within the brood nest ;)

Correct.

Harvesting should only be done if they have excess honey stores. The honey bars are generally made wider up to 44-45mm compared to brood nest bars which are about 35mm. During colony expansion TBH owners keep adding brood bars as required until they start filling the last bar with just honey, then honey bars are added. A growing trend now is TBH owners harvest in spring and only take some of the excess leaving 1-2 or more honey bars for the colony as insurance, then later in the year only to create space as and when required.

If you want more precise management details then go to www.biobees.com
 
I quite like the idea of top bar hive and have looked into it a little bit. Biobees has lots of info about Kenyan and some about Warre hives and If you google warre hive, the topmost result is a good site for Warre.

I've made a diy hive kenyan as per biobees, but I havent finished the roof because the design doesnt seem to be bee-tight to me. One draw back that is apparent after making one is that it takes up a lot of space and isnt very manouverable. Also, according to my limited research, you wont get much honey from it (~20% of that from a National).

A Warre hive takes up less space and it's possible to make one from a sheet of 18mm ply, so I may have a go at one of these at some point.

There are a few youtube videos and a book - Barefoot Beekeeper
 
I havent finished the roof because the design doesnt seem to be bee-tight to me.

The roof is only there to keep the weather off the top bars and for added insulation, the bars themselves make the design bee-tight along with the follower board/s and hive body. I've made a few over the last 12 months and they are all bee-tight without a roof.
 
Being in my first season with a TBH and Warre hives, the answer is as yet "don't know" about amounts of honey, as harvest will be in spring, AFTER they've got through the winter on their own stores - I'll have what they can spare!
I'm not looking for "honey yield" as a prime parameter for success at all - if I can keep healthy colonies of bees with no "synthetic chemical" inputs, and use a minimum of intervention, then I'll count it as success measured by what's important to me.........some honey as a bonus will be great
If your main criterion is honey production above all else, then one of the "conventional" hives may well suit you better
 
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