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Made my first top bar bee hive

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default Made my first top bar bee hive

Post by Guest on 25th March 2010, 6:57 pm

I spent the day in the workshop today and made my first top bar bee hive from my own poplar trees.

The first thing was to plank then cut to length the various parts of the hive..

.

Then to start assembling it...



Then put it all together....



...and a little look at the inside....



Now all that remains is to make a roof and to persuade some bees to move in.


Last edited by Wood Troll on 26th March 2010, 1:25 pm; edited 1 time in total

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default Re: Made my first top bar bee hive

Post by Hairyloon on 25th March 2010, 7:17 pm

Well done.
Is there a set of plans somewhere easy?
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default Re: Made my first top bar bee hive

Post by Guest on 25th March 2010, 7:40 pm

I'm just adding that he is going give it a coating of linseed oil and beeswax

The link to where the plans can be downloaded is under the thread:
Natural Beekeeping by biobee

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default Re: Made my first top bar bee hive

Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 25th March 2010, 7:56 pm

are those grooves in thebars for foundation strips or are you eschewing those as well?

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default Re: Made my first top bar bee hive

Post by Guest on 26th March 2010, 1:27 pm

Well spotted Herr von...
Indeed they are to be filled with wax to provide foundations for the combs. The little darlings will then build nice and neatly.

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default Re: Made my first top bar bee hive

Post by biobee on 2nd July 2010, 1:36 pm

Nice job - looks good and solid.

I would recommend a 22mm hole in each follower board, near the bottom, so you can feed them easily if you need to. Plug with a cork when not in use.

Rub some old brood comb around inside and add a couple of drops of lemon, lemongrass or citronella essential oil, and any passing bees will check it out as a potential future home.

I have a Barefoot Beekeeper podcast now at http://biobees.libsyn.com (also on iTunes) and the next episode deals with getting bees into a TBH.

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default Re: Made my first top bar bee hive

Post by Bardster on 2nd July 2010, 8:22 pm

Cool! looks like the one I made a week or two back Very Happy




Will have to take a picture of this one in the garden as it has its roof in place as well as being coated, and mesh fitted in the base. No bees yet though.
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default Re: Made my first top bar bee hive

Post by Sparhawk on 2nd July 2010, 8:42 pm

Superb, I downloaded the plans last year but have had other things that I needed to do, my fil even said I could put one down at his place by the river too, will get around to it one day...

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"the luxuries of civilisation satisfy only those wants which they themselves create..."
                 The Worst Journey In The World - Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1922)

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    leads a ragtag, fugitive fleet, on a lonely quest—for a shining planet known as Earth."
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default Re: Made my first top bar bee hive

Post by Sparhawk on 19th December 2010, 5:57 pm

Bump,

Any updates on how things went please...

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"the luxuries of civilisation satisfy only those wants which they themselves create..."
                 The Worst Journey In The World - Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1922)

                "Fleeing from the Cylon tyranny, the last Battlestar, Galactica,
    leads a ragtag, fugitive fleet, on a lonely quest—for a shining planet known as Earth."
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default Re: Made my first top bar bee hive

Post by Guest on 19th December 2010, 8:39 pm

It was a steep learning curve and I am glad to have been able to chat to other beeks on Biobee’s excellent forum (http://www.biobees.com/forum/) to discuss worries and check if what my bees were doing was normal. keeper

The things I would have done differently are:
1. My swarm was a large one (from what I can gather) so they set to building their combs at a prolific rate. I should have checked within the first two days that they were building the comb straight on the top bars. My darlings started at both ends of the first bar and instead of joining up the comb the one side swerved around the other onto the next bar. All the subsequent combs run across two or three bars so it is impossible to lift out the combs. This should have been rectified immediately; I must now resolve this in the spring.
2. More wax on the top bars to give a better ‘format’ for the bees. I did not have any comb as this was my first year so I used melted wax from a candle, the bees did not find the hint strong enough! In the spring I will raid the hive for empty comb to make up 1” starter strips for new top bars. I must then take the drastic step of either replacing all existing comb with new bars or move the bees to a new hive with new bars. Either was the bees are not going to be happy!
3. The top bars should be chamfered where the bees will be building comb to encourage them the follow the bar. Where the bar rests on the sides it should remain flat to ensure a close fit.
4. Think about location and direction of the hive. It needs midday shade on hot summer days and a clear flight path as the bees leave the hive. The bees seem to fly straight out about 10’ before changing to the direction they intend to go in, if there is a footpath in this flight path it could cause sting problems for humans.
5. My darlings are of a particularly impolite disposition and I have decided to start using smoke before inspecting the hive instead of a water spray. I know some bees do not need smoke but it seems our local ones do.

I am sure there are other things that I have forgotten to mention, like I have not fed them with sugar solution or fondant and they have not died or absconded! bee bee bee bee

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default Some thoughts on top bar hives

Post by BertieFox on 20th December 2010, 3:32 pm

While I've never used a top bar hive, I've read a bit about them, and also experienced conventional hives for many years. I think the following points should be borne in mind:

1. Even in a conventional hive with new frames and full 'foundation', a swarm can still ignore the 'guidance' and build brace comb between the new combs. That's because the bee space only comes into play when each comb is fully built outward and because there is always the odd comb that isn't quite straight or the foundation is a bit warped.
It's much more difficult in a top bar hive as you start with no combs at all and the bees don't want to be dictated to about where to draw their comb.

2. Therefore, I'd say you need to start with far more of a guide than just a very narrow strip of wax or foundation from a pure source. Some people put a long cocktail stick down the middle, and others use a piece of wax extended several inches below the top bar, tapering to a point. Use your own wax sheet from your own collected wax made from cappings. You can even imprint it with the cell shape as there are still flat plastic moulds available (I think) that you can use by putting them either side of your wax sheet and running a garden roller over them. If you can get hold of an old fashioned mangle, that's even better.

Anyway, all I'm saying is give the bees much more to start with and they are less likely to build brace comb.

3. Start with only three top bars with some comb or wax starter attached. Watch the swarm carefully and add more bars progressively as they build comb. Again, that gives you more control.

4. Attracting and catching swarms: you can use all kinds of exotic lures and herbal potions, but all you really need is something to attract workers to the hive during the swarming season. Smearing the inside of the hive or the frames with honey (local of course) is a good attractant and you will soon see foragers exploring your hive.

As they will then be familiar with the existence of your 'hive' or suitable swarm location, when they decide to swarm they will evaluate it along with any others they 'know' about, like the space in the attic or the hole in the old tree. You want them to believe yours is the better location.

Swarms don't generally go to a new hive that is close to the ground or in a very poor shady location. From experience, we have found quite a good height is about five feet off the ground. You can tie your hive in a tree but then you have all the hassle of getting it down again once the swarm has found it. And if you miss the initial event, they will be habituated to flying to an entrance ten feet up in your tree.

Anyway, I like the sound of top bar hives and I'm going to try to adapt my old British National hives next year to the same principle. There's nothing to stop you using the properly made frame top bars with spacers and a bit of starter wax. Although the traditional hive is of course a cube not shaped for the natural comb, the bees still build nice curved natural comb in them, given the chance. And you could use wire across the frame to help strengthen the natural comb.

Assuming I've got any bees left after the winter, as I forgot to put any mouse guards on this autumn, and with the cold weather the mice may have got in and wrecked the colonies. I hope not.
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default Re: Made my first top bar bee hive

Post by Guest on 20th December 2010, 4:56 pm

Wood Troll forgot to add that our (my) mistake was priming the hive with 9 bars. This was too many. As Bertie points out it is better to start off with as few as possible allow the last line to be forming before adding the next, one at a time.

Also the hive now has a rather nice pitched and insulated roof on it with a board underneath to keep the little ones a bit warmer.

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default Re: Made my first top bar bee hive

Post by Sparhawk on 21st December 2010, 12:19 am

Thanks for the replies, it has definately given me food for thought, if/when I do venture into it I'm going to have to take up my FIL's offer & do it down at his place me thinks, am still interested especially as it is more to provide a home & everything else is a byproduct as opposed to "farming" for the products...

How did yours go Bardster?

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"the luxuries of civilisation satisfy only those wants which they themselves create..."
                 The Worst Journey In The World - Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1922)

                "Fleeing from the Cylon tyranny, the last Battlestar, Galactica,
    leads a ragtag, fugitive fleet, on a lonely quest—for a shining planet known as Earth."
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default Re: Made my first top bar bee hive

Post by GB on 29th August 2011, 1:12 am

I am trying to get my hubby to make me a top bar hive as teh standard hives are just too tall and heavy for me to work. He said he doesnt need to make me one because he is here to work my hives for me.

Well, he does have a point Laughing

While looking for something else I found a tbh with frames like our hives but shaped to fit. It looked easy enough to do but it gave teh bees more guidance and the comb more support.

And Spar, get started on your bees!!! We took a frame of honeycomb today and OMG, best EVER! happydance

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default Re: Made my first top bar bee hive

Post by Sparhawk on 29th August 2011, 10:13 am

Am afraid the bees is very much on the back burner, chooks, shroom growing, & wine making are this years targets, although if I can think of a practical way to do top barring at home that may come back on the radar soon,

bigthink perhaps I could put one on the workshop roof Idea ...

................................................................................................................................
"the luxuries of civilisation satisfy only those wants which they themselves create..."
                 The Worst Journey In The World - Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1922)

                "Fleeing from the Cylon tyranny, the last Battlestar, Galactica,
    leads a ragtag, fugitive fleet, on a lonely quest—for a shining planet known as Earth."
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