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Author Topic: Options in building a top-bar hive  (Read 846 times)

Offline crmauch

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Options in building a top-bar hive
« on: March 03, 2016, 01:19:11 PM »
I am likely to build a Kenyan-style top bar in the next month.  It will mainly be built from recycled lumber.  One goal is to keep the cost as minimal as possible.

Many things I can correct as I go along, but there's a few things I'd like to get close to right the first time.  The two main ones I'm on the fence about are the bottoms and placement of the opening.

1) Bottom of hive:  Screened or solid board?  I've read so many different things I can't decide which way to go. 

What I've gleaned:
Screened bottom:
        Improved ventilation some say even leave open in winter (Will this work or be too cold for the mid-Atlantic (I've also read articles where we should insulate the hives better in winter))?
        Help with varroa mite control?
        Reduces 'bearding' in the summer because of the improved ventilation?
        The #8 screen will have to be purchased.

Solid bottom:
         Improved structural strength of hive -- particularly if it has to be moved (This is an assumption on my part.)?
         Improved heat retention in winter? Decreased ventilation?
         Less expensive?


2)  Hive entrance:

I'm aware of 3 options I've seen:

On side in middle:  I've rejected this one as I'd prefer the brood at one end or other

On end: 

Or on side at one end.  Better ventilation or will the bees tend not to like their combs more exposed?

Which is better? 

Should the bees have a landing area?  Pro: helps new forager bees acclimate and orient.  Against:  Natural nests don't have a porch and helps mice access hive.

When building are there any considerations I should absolutely (or at least forcibly) consider/do?

Thanks,

Chris
       
Chris

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Options in building a top-bar hive
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2016, 03:25:47 PM »
>1) Bottom of hive:  Screened or solid board?  I've read so many different things I can't decide which way to go. 

Solid.  Bee should control their ventilation.  It's hard to get them not to abscond from a hive with an open bottom...

>Screened bottom:
>        Improved ventilation

It's not improved.  It's out of the bees' control... they need to control the ventilation winter or summer.  That's why a swarm prefers to move into a hive with a small opening...

> some say even leave open in winter

Less and less people are saying that... and more and more are saying the solid bottom hives are building up sooner and quicker.

>(Will this work or be too cold for the mid-Atlantic (I've also read articles where we should insulate the hives better in winter))?

Put some sytrofoam on the lid and hold it down with a brick, or if you are really cheap, bag up some leaves in the fall and put those on top...

>  Help with varroa mite control?

I have seen no evidence that a SBB helps with Varroa.

> Reduces 'bearding' in the summer because of the improved ventilation?

Maybe it reduces bearding because instead of loafing on the front of they hive they all have to go back in to work hard at controling out of control ventilation.  In the summer they need to COOL the hive.  How do you do that when someone leaves the windows and doors open...

>Solid bottom:
>         Improved structural strength of hive -- particularly if it has to be moved (This is an assumption on my part.)?

Sure.

>         Improved heat retention in winter? Decreased ventilation?

Better, controlled ventilation.

>         Less expensive?

Yes.  And simpler.


>2)  Hive entrance:
>I'm aware of 3 options I've seen:
>On side in middle:  I've rejected this one as I'd prefer the brood at one end or other

Agreed.

>On end: 
>Or on side at one end.  Better ventilation or will the bees tend not to like their combs more exposed?
>Which is better? 

Mine is just the gap at the end.  No holes.
http://www.bushfarms.com/images/TBHEntranceDiagramChrisGraham.jpg
http://www.bushfarms.com/images/TBHEntrance1.JPG

The bees prefer their entrance to be at a 45 degree angle from the entrance.  You can approximate that with any entrance that is near the corner at one end.

>Should the bees have a landing area?  Pro: helps new forager bees acclimate and orient.  Against:  Natural nests don't have a porch and helps mice access hive.

I call them mouse ramps... I guess that clarifies my view...  I've never seen a tree with a landing board and I've never seen any loss of productivity on a hive without one.  I cut all of them off of all my bottom boards...

>When building are there any considerations I should absolutely (or at least forcibly) consider/do?

Here is the simplest one I've built:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm#ktbh

Chris
       
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--James "Big Boy" Medlin

Offline crmauch

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Re: Options in building a top-bar hive
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2016, 03:41:34 PM »
Thanks, that helps a lot!!!!
Chris

Offline crmauch

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Re: Options in building a top-bar hive
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2016, 02:05:41 PM »
Well, I've settled on a basic design for my hives.  I was initially leaning towards Les Crowder's design (thought the idea that it's shaped like 1/2 a hexagon rather neat, and thought maybe it'd have less side attachments (it'd be neat if someone did a test of the different forms of top bars - but I don't see that happening).

I'm going with Wyatt Mangum's design shape, except my long boards will be attached to the outside of the ends rather than the end boards attached to the end of the long boards.  Solid bottom board, and my entrances for the bees will be different (longer, but only 3/8" high).  Built from mostly scrap, though I am having some trouble tracking down pallets, etc.

Chris

Offline Pale Rider

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Re: Options in building a top-bar hive
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2016, 12:23:22 AM »
I live in South Texas, and I'm currently designing my first TB hive. I have planned in a screen with a drop bottom (like the ones sold at Goldstar Honeybees. My fear is that with our temperatures (for long periods of time) in the summer, the bees will not be able to control their internal environment as well as they normally could. I also want to monitor for mites, and the drop board makes that easy. Is there something wrong with my logic here?
Tim

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Options in building a top-bar hive
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2016, 05:05:35 PM »
>Is there something wrong with my logic here?

You are correct.
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
-------------------
"Everything works if you let it."--James "Big Boy" Medlin