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Top Bar Hive plans?


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The Chandler hive is on the small side. People I know who have used it have found it problematic, it's so small that the bees fill the entire hive with brood hardly leaving any room for honey, and instead swarming constantly, and I mean many times per season. A number of people I know have given up on the hive because of these issues and moved either to a larger TBH, or to Warre and Lang hives.

 

Go with the biggest design you can find, or just make your own design. Some people on the forum are using larger TBH's and could no doubt share their design.

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Hive structure questions from a top bar newbie.

Hi, I'm a complete "newbee" and have a top bar hive ready, too late for bees this season. This was mainly because I wanted to put a viewing window in the back of my hive so I can take a little look without lifting the lid so often as I've read the ideal hive temp is 36 degrees and varroa can't survive over 33 degrees (Barefoot Beekeeper pg 23).

 

I have two questions I hope someone can answer:

My hive's entry holes are at the front of the hive like in the picture on the cover of "Top Bar Beekeeping in New Zealand Back Yards", can anyone please confirm that this is ok?

My hive has a 'holding the thing together bar across the middle of the top. I worry the bees might want to hang comb on this too? or will it create too much open space inside the hive? Should I remove it or leave it?

 

Thanks in advance :-)

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Yes that is a small design flaw, I think. The hive is made from quite light timber so it seems they have put a piece across the middle to stop it bowing. If you remove it, the hive could bow. You will have to live with it.

 

An alternative could be to put something real thin there that could less intrusively fit between bars, such as a tightly stretched piece of wire.

 

BTW it is not too late to start this season, last season I started a brand new TBH in March. Just had to be fed plenty. Bees are easier and cheaper to find in autumn also, so if you find some, post here and you will get advice how to go about installing at this time of year.

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Very pretty hive Andi!

 

I have two questions I hope someone can answer:

My hive's entry holes are at the front of the hive like in the picture on the cover of "Top Bar Beekeeping in New Zealand Back Yards", can anyone please confirm that this is ok?

My hive has a 'holding the thing together bar across the middle of the top. I worry the bees might want to hang comb on this too? or will it create too much open space inside the hive? Should I remove it or leave it?

 

There's lots of discussion about where the entry holes should be. My first hive has them in the front like yours and it was fine (that's what Phil Chandler does), but I eventually decided I like the end hole design better. But both are fine, you may just need to be careful setting up a middle-hole hive for winter, and keep an eye on it - the danger is that the bees will move towards one end or the other during winter, and may run out of honey in that end and starve, even though they still have honey in the other end.

 

But you're going to have problems with that brace across the middle. You won't be able to push bars together around it, and the bees will try to fill that space with comb which will be messy. They can't leave a gap there, it's the middle of their brood nest. I would say just remove it. If the hive loses structural integrity you may need to put strengthening joists along the outside of the front and back or something like that.

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By the way @Andi Bee the book I read that convinced me about the end holes was Top-Bar Beekeeping by Les Crowder and Heather Harrell. It's the best tbh book I've read, and includes some extremely useful diagrams for comb management, suggesting optimal layout for brood, pollen, honey, and (most important for a beginner) empty bars to encourage the bees in drawing straight comb and not cross-combing.

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I had centre holes like yours, and never had any problems it just does not get cold enough in Hamilton (or Tauranga either I'd bet) for the bees to get isolated from their honey in winter. In fact, my bees flew every day it wasn't raining over winter.

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Hive structure questions from a top bar newbie.

Hi, I'm a complete "newbee" and have a top bar hive ready, too late for bees this season. This was mainly because I wanted to put a viewing window in the back of my hive so I can take a little look without lifting the lid so often as I've read the ideal hive temp is 36 degrees and varroa can't survive over 33 degrees (Barefoot Beekeeper pg 23).

 

I have two questions I hope someone can answer:

My hive's entry holes are at the front of the hive like in the picture on the cover of "Top Bar Beekeeping in New Zealand Back Yards", can anyone please confirm that this is ok?

My hive has a 'holding the thing together bar across the middle of the top. I worry the bees might want to hang comb on this too? or will it create too much open space inside the hive? Should I remove it or leave it?

 

Thanks in advance :)

I would remove the brace and replace it with a strip of galvanised strapping (vertically placed) in the exact spot to butt against two top boards. length/width wise. That won't worry the bees and will leave you with flexibility to work around the strapping.

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Thanks Alastair, Roger and Nick. I'll try just taking the strut thing out and use wire/strapping if it proves necessary. Good suggestions, thanks.

I've ordered the book you recommended, Nick. I see your point about the hole placement so will bung them up and ask hubby to make some new ones at the end.

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I'll try just taking the strut thing out and use wire/strapping if it proves necessary.

 

There's also 3mm diameter threaded rod available from engineering supply places, in 900mm lengths, quite cheap, cut to length , put washers & nuts

inside & out either side.

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