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Diane

AFB Check in top bar

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Hi I am doing an AFB Check for someone with a top bar hive today. I have not had any experience with these hives apart from seeing them opened at bee club, any tips ? 

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Get them to hold the bars/comb while you manouvre your eyeballs around it ?? So they drop them instead of you ?

Edited by yesbut
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what the cat said.  I can handle topbar combs, but when I'm concentrating on what I'm looking at, while usually holding a conversation with the owner at the same time, you can guarantee I'll forget for a second and tip one of those dang things.   Haven't lost a comb yet, but there's been a couple of quick recoveries.

 

That, and resisting the urge to shake the bees off when I want a better look.

Edited by deejaycee

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I have a thriving TBH and have created 2 different Bar holders that mean it is virtually impossible to drop comb off the bars. I also never tip the bars over so the comb is on top. I always pivot the bar around to see the other side.

The first is a modified lang frame holder that hangs onto the opened hinged roof, and the bees can be swept with a brush gently to inspect. It's simple to turn the bar around to see the other side.

The second is a wooden stand that the Bar sits onto, and it stands on the hive bars, and can be easily turned. The bees can be swept with a bee brush straight down into the hive if necessary.

Another option is to rest one end of the bar on the center strut of the hinged roof, which is at just the right height, and can easily see both sides using just 1 hand.

 

I will be opening the TBH on Tuesday, and will take some photos of the 3 methods.

 

The real difficulty in inspecting TBH's is when they cross comb so you cant see between 2 combs. But regular weekly checks while comb is being built means you can easily manipulate cross comb back onto the correct line. I've done that the first few time after installing a swarm, and now it's all straight. Also, placing an empty new bar between straight comb in the brood area means they very quickly build new comb straight on the new bar. That doesn't always work in the honey end, as they will expand the depth of the honey cells into the space where the new bar is.

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Good learning curve, I learnt I'm not interested in having a top bar hive, hot day, warm wax, not stable to check. 

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14 hours ago, Diane said:

Good learning curve, I learnt I'm not interested in having a top bar hive, hot day, warm wax, not stable to check. 

I can't understand why people have such an issue with Top Bar Hives. I find them far more interesting than Langs.

My TBH is thriving, and I have learned how to manipulate crooked comb back to straight, and am working with 2 other people with TBH's.

One was a week old swarm cutout, comb tied onto bars, which fell off, but we got them going again and now starting to make progress. Was queenless so put in a queen cell which should hatch in a few days.

Another was a small swarm into a TBH where the first time owner didn't understand what was happening, and laid out the bars and spacers wrong so comb was built on spacers instead of bars, she dropped all the new comb because of the cross combing, but it took only 2 inspections to get it fixed, and they are now building up.

 

These are all an interesting challenge, and helps develop a far better understanding of hows bees work the way they do, why they build a certain way if we do something wrong.

Langs are fine, but even after only 4 months, I would much rather work through Top Bars than Langs. The challenge is working out how to make them work as individual units without being able to borrow and swap parts from other hives. The 4 TBH's I am working with are all different measurements, so can't swap comb, brood etc. I've never dropped comb, and have shown these other owners how to pivot the bars to inspect, rather than flip them so comb is on top. Maybe that is what you do with older harder comb, but never new comb.

 

My TBH has been inspected for AFB, and you don't have to shake all the bees off to do that. A gentle brush will move the bees out the way. Yes, it is a little slower, and has to be done differently, but that is all part of the challenge.

 

I often hear people say TBH owners should start with a Lang, but I believe now that all beekeepers should go through a season or 2 with a TBH.

 

Anyway, it is fantastic that there are people who prefer the challenge of a TBH, (not saying Langs are not a challenge) and I personally get far more satisfaction from my TBH than my Langs...

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On 03/12/2017 at 2:04 PM, deejaycee said:

That, and resisting the urge to shake the bees off when I want a better look.

I thought that until the tbh owner put me straight. Be careful with fresh drawn comb or heavy combs on a hot day. Otherwise you can shake the bees of just as you would a lang frame.

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10 hours ago, PhilEvans said:

I can't understand why people have such an issue with Top Bar Hives. I find them far more interesting than Langs....

Luckily most, and perhaps all, on this forum don't display the "us vs them" habit often plagues discussion regarding hive types elsewhere, and recognise that bees can be kept well in most hive types. The main issue people have with them is the unfamiliarity of handling frameless comb and the consequence of that with heavy combs on hot days :) well, that and swarm management

 

I disagreed with the second part (bolded) of the following statement on first read, then realised that you might mean that running two hive types rather than just one helps hasten a faster understanding of how bees work - in which case i agree ;)

10 hours ago, PhilEvans said:

These are all an interesting challenge, and helps develop a far better understanding of hows bees work the way they do, why they build a certain way if we do something wrong..

 

 

On 12/3/2017 at 8:09 PM, Diane said:

Good learning curve, I learnt I'm not interested in having a top bar hive, hot day, warm wax, not stable to check. 

fun eh, they're all good, just have to do things differently to avoid comb breaking disaster ;) well, that, and colony management to avoid swarming - but that's a whole different issue and is discussed elsewhere here already

Edited by tommy dave
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46 minutes ago, tommy dave said:

Luckily most, and perhaps all, on this forum don't display the "us vs them" habit often plagues discussion regarding hive types elsewhere, and recognise that bees can be kept well in most hive types. The main issue people have with them is the unfamiliarity of handling frameless comb and the consequence of that with heavy combs on hot days :) well, that and swarm management

 

I disagreed with the second part (bolded) of the following statement on first read, then realised that you might mean that running two hive types rather than just one helps hasten a faster understanding of how bees work - in which case i agree ;)

    "These are all an interesting challenge, and helps develop a far better understanding of hows bees work the way they do, why they build a certain way if we do something wrong.."

 

Agree, having a specific forum for alternative hives is great, and welcomed...

 

In my personal experience, I have learned more about bees with the TBH, and having 2 Langs has enhanced that, as most discussions involve Langs, so I get the best of both worlds. I can also understand why people want to only run TBH's, given that there are a number of TBH specific forums and you tube sites where you can learn about how they work.

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On 03/12/2017 at 1:16 PM, Diane said:

Hi I am doing an AFB Check for someone with a top bar hive today. I have not had any experience with these hives apart from seeing them opened at bee club, any tips ? 

 

This isn’t for a certificate of inspection is it? I thought those had to be done before December, then 2 weeks to submit?

 

Ive found the process a little painful so wouldn’t be surprised if I had it wrong. Can’t wait to get a DECA for myself and remove the hassle.

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1 minute ago, cBank said:

This isn’t for a certificate of inspection is it? I thought those had to be done before December, then 2 weeks to submit?

Better late than never. Reckon the agency will agree :14_relaxed:

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Very true, I am busier doing AFB checks this week than I was last week. It is a lot easier to check pre honey flow so there are not heavy honey boxes to lift. 

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7 minutes ago, Diane said:

Very true, I am busier doing AFB checks this week than I was last week. It is a lot easier to check pre honey flow so there are not heavy honey boxes to lift. 

I agree.  I have done a lot of hives after the cut off.  However, I prefer to see the checks done as I don't want to get AFB because I would not check someones hives after the cut off.

It has been a good year, this season as I have not found any AFB and I usually find 1 or 2 per year.

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