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I know this is a contorversial topic. Sorry. :cry:

 

I have heard so much conflicting information regarding "a legal requirement" to use frames on top-bar hives. This post here:

After reading 8 pages about the TBH... | NZ Beekeepers Forum

links to a document that implies that this will, in fact, be a legal requirement this year. Can anyone confirm this? Because if so, I do have sufficent woodworking skills to turn my bars into frames before I look at populating the hive (currently I look to be taking delivery of the hive this weekend).

Unfortunately, so far the yes/no opinions I have seen on this seem to be split into Lang hive owners say yes, TBH owners say no. I am confused, and just want to do the right thing. :(

Help, Please!

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I started with a couple of top bars 3 years ago. They were nothing but a pain, sound lovely in the books and websites

but you have to be prepared to spend your life straightening combs that have been built across adjoining bars, and the bees do join the comb to the sides. Never mind what the rules say, it's mess mess mess. And they do break off the bars when you least want them to. I transitioned to home built frames slightly smaller than langstroth which fitted my long hives. Mess gone, but ####### size frames are a pain for no gain, and I have started transitioning to langstroth frames in new long hives which are the equivalent of two lang boxes long. I will super them with one full depth box, but my harvesting will be done the crush way one frame at a time as ready. I'm using heavy manuka

special foundation that will take the stresses and strains of me taking to the honey with a large spoon !

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I've talked to a few people wanting to start with bees and my advice has always been to start with a Lang hive. They are simply an easier format to start with. The frames are easier to handle and won't get built onto the sides of the hives. If you want to do a natural comb hive then you can always start with foundationless frames and let the bees do all that as well. There is plenty of information around as to how to do this.

 

There is quite a lot to learn and work out when you're starting with bees and there is little point to making it harder. If, after a year or two of keeping a Lang hive, you still want a TBH then it will only be easier to set one up with a split from your existing hive and the experience and confidence of having been handling the bees for a couple of years.

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I'm going to a seminar on Sunday and this will be discussed there when we hear from Rex Baynes about the AFB strategy review. Last year at this seminar, they told us frames were definitely a requirement, and I have not heard of any subsequent changes. But I will report back next week.

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I know this is a contorversial topic. Sorry. :cry:

 

I have heard so much conflicting information regarding "a legal requirement" to use frames on top-bar hives. This post here:

After reading 8 pages about the TBH... | NZ Beekeepers Forum

links to a document that implies that this will, in fact, be a legal requirement this year. Can anyone confirm this?

 

its not that its going to be a legal requirement to have frames, its always has been a legal requirement for the last 50 years or so. its just fashionable to do frameless hives at the moment and people just ignore the rules.

 

while i don't mind experienced beekeepers doing different things, having beginners with no experience, little know how and poor grasp of disease control running unconventional hives is not a good thing.

 

for beginners stick with langstroth. its easier to learn on, easy to get gear, far easier to find beekeepers to help you.

after 5 years or so when you have enough experience then you can look at other hive types.

if you quit beekeeping at some point at least langs hives are easy to sell.

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I had a TB as my first hive - enjoyed it, but found the fresh comb was a pain to manipulate. I wasted many hours of bees work by breaking it when lifting bars out.

I now keep bees in framed hives. Swapped my TB hive for 3 sheets of Plywood last weekend

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Langstroth owners are not against TBH. We are all happy to keep bees in any type of container that a Beekeeper wants to use.

The argument is about having frames. (there are plenty of threads on this forum about it.) However, It is not as easy to keep bees in a TBH as it is to keep them in a standard Langstroth hive that is why commercial use Langstroth hives. We all just want to see healthy bees.

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....... We are all happy to keep bees in any type of container that a Beekeeper wants to use.

.....

sorry trevor i chuckled a bit reading that. the reason why the rules where originally made is because beekeepers used to use anything and everything as a beehive. eg oil drums, kero tins etc.

thank goodness those days are long gone.

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sorry trevor i chuckled a bit reading that. the reason why the rules where originally made is because beekeepers used to use anything and everything as a beehive. eg oil drums, kero tins etc.

thank goodness those days are long gone.

 

Sure. But the point I was making is that it is not the hive that is then problem it is the lack of removable frames that causes all the problems.

When they use oil drums etc it was letting the bees do as they wanted and then tear the whole lot apart to harvest the honey.

I agree, thanks goodness those days are gone.

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I own a TBH and it is my first and only hive at the moment. I agree that a TBH is probably more work for a newbee and the comb manipulation can be a bit challenging but I love challenges! My bees have build comb across but only because the bars were to narrow. I am now putting in wider bars and they build perfectly straight comb, I expect this to change when they are building honey combs since these can be really thick but since this hive is in my backyard (rural, not urban), I can keep a close eye on them. In between showers (it seems to always rain on my days off) I did a reasonable inspection on Monday and was very pleased to find out none of the combs were attached to the side of the hive, I personally have not seen combs attached to the sides yet. The biggest challenge at the moment is not the TBH but the fact that there is not enough pollen and nectar comming in to feed all the brood.

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If you would like to add frames to your top bars I can help you. Send me a message once you get your hive and we will come up with a plan of action

 

Thanks for that! Let me stress to concerned readers that I do not have bees yet (despite advice I was given to get a Nuc in late autumn and over-winter it in the box it came in! Maybe ok for an experienced keeper, but I decided not for me).

I have what I think rather modest goals in my first year:

1/ Stop the bees from swarming (this is #1 because they are urban)

2/ Keep the bees alive

3/ Keep the bees healthy

4/ Don't break the law (hence the question that started this thread)

5/ Learn heaps

I am already making inroads on #5, mostly due to trawling through the wealth of information on this site. Before I found this site most of my info came from the biobees website and related sources. Due to repeated advice to beginners on this forum, I own and am making my way through Practical Beekeeping in NZ.

However, there is not a lot of stuff out there about TBHs in NZ. I am hoping to get into a course starting in October, but I have a scheduling conflict, so I'll see how that turns out.

 

My bees have build comb across but only because the bars were to narrow. I am now putting in wider bars and they build perfectly straight comb, I expect this to change when they are building honey combs since these can be really thick.

Judy - I think the thread I referenced at the start of this on had some discussion about bar widths, and suggested narrower bars for brood than honey. I will be really interested to hear how you get on.

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Hi Erin

One of the biggest problems you will have with a TBH is getting the hive populated. Pretty much all NUC's come in Langstroth pattern NUC's and these will not fit into a TBH.

My best solution is to try and catch a swarm. Then it can make it's own wax combs and settle into the TBH. Frames will make life easier for you with hive management.

Janet Luke Green Urban Living -sustainable lifestyles in an urban environment. - About Janet Luke has put out a book about TBH hives but I cannot remember it's name.

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Hi Erin

One of the biggest problems you will have with a TBH is getting the hive populated. Pretty much all NUC's come in Langstroth pattern NUC's and these will not fit into a TBH.

 

I have come to realise this. I have been looking at various methods, including shaking the bees into the new hive or cutting the comb from a frame, shaping it and tying it in place until the bees fasten it in properly.

I though the second method would be best, as they are less likely to abscond if they have brood to look after, but just about everyone I have talked to recommends shaking them in.

 

After the reading I have done so far, I really would prefer to go the more expensive, but safer route and purchase bees of good temperament, but I will have to see what comes up. Expect to see me in the buy/sell section once I am happy that I am ready for the bees. :)

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If at all possible get an experienced beekeeper to help populate your TBH. They can help shake the bees in and take away the frames with brood and put them into an existing hive so that they don't go to waste and aren't left to rot. Do you have a way of feeding the bees when you first introduce them? Shaking them in they'll have pretty much nothing.

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If at all possible get an experienced beekeeper to help populate your TBH.

 

I very much hope to do so. I have had an offer of help, but the beekeper in question is not currently keeping bees and I think all his experience is with pre-varroa lang hives. Feeding is one of the things I am going to discuss when I pick up the hive (the builder keeps bees). My current plan is to make syrup and feed out of a take-away container with anti-drowning floats/stones in it.

I need to make some modifications before I am ready for bees anyway - the builder is just providing bare bars, so I will probably be converting these to frames first. Also, I don't know if he is providing follower-boards, so I may need to make those too. Also planning to clamp/bolt the hive down to a pallet for stability purposes, so I'm not looking to run out and catch a swarm the same day I get the hive.

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Janet Luke Green Urban Living -sustainable lifestyles in an urban environment. - About Janet Luke has put out a book about TBH hives but I cannot remember it's name.

Hi Trevor, was it this PDF you were thinking of:

http://www.greenurbanliving.co.nz/imagelibrary/221.pdf

or a dead-tree type book?

 

Also, any swarm this weekend, I would contact the WDB club and let someone who's aready set up catch them reather than go off half cocked. ;)

An empty hive does not a beekeeper make, I am thinking.

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Yes Erin, That is a good start but Janet has actually put out a book. "Green Urban Living" it is more than just beekeeping.

I would like to point out that I am not an advocate of TBH and from all the reading I have done on them by bee experts on this forum they are not the easiest hives to operate nor for that matter are Long hives. Cost is no different than buying a Langstroth or Framed Warre hive but I understand that you have already purchased one. I have a friends TBH at home that I plan on populating this year with the first swarm that I catch. I believe a swarm is the best and quickest way to get a TBH started as it should not even require feeding in an urban location.

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Yes Erin, That is a good start but Janet has actually put out a book. "Green Urban Living" it is more than just beekeeping.

 

Ah, I'll have a search for it, thanks Trevor. I have actually found that Janet has some great videos on Youtube, including transferring brood from Lang frames to TBH. I particularly liked her videos on inspecting for AFB and this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F57xd1f93oA

which shows her handling the comb and harvesting.

I have to say, she makes it look easy - much easier, I suspect than I, as a novice would find it.

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Erin you might like to read this thread of a TBH that I modified and plan on populating this season.

Building Frames in a Top Bar Hive | NZ Beekeepers Forum

Hi Trevor, I really liked the look of these frames - I particularly like the Hoffman shoulders, because that will mean the observation window will still have some use. Is there a particular formula for the relative length of the thick section to the thin section?

Also, if I follow correctly, the thick section should be bar-width minus beespace (35-9=26mm, in your case), how wide should the frame section below the shoulder be?

 

My construction technique will be a little different as my bars have a triangular profile rather than a groove.

 

Thanks!

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Report from the field day: The AFB Pest Management Strategy is under review (still). MAF and AFBPMS are in discussion about the definitions and practicalities of movable frames, movable comb etc etc (still). No changes to the existing policy have been agreed.

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