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Posted: 3/25/2009 10:22:42 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/25/2009 10:49:27 AM EDT by SigOwner_P229]
Went out and took a look in my hives the other day. This is my favorite queen. The bees are the most gentle bees I've ever worked (still haven't been stung by them after a year working this particular hive) and they haven't succumbed to any diseases or pests and I haven't yet treated them for anything. They've already got a decent brood nest going on and they have plenty of stores to make it until the big flows. I'm pretty excited for this season.


While I'm at it I'll post some pics of some Honey Whole Wheat bread I made with my own honey. (recipe courtesy Ferals wife I believe)
Out of the mixer, waiting to be kneaded

Rising

Done rising, about to go in the oven

Done baking, cooling, waiting to be devoured
Link Posted: 3/25/2009 10:23:51 AM EDT
More pics, please.

TRG
Link Posted: 3/25/2009 10:56:20 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/25/2009 11:03:34 AM EDT by SigOwner_P229]
Originally Posted By TheRedGoat:
More pics, please.

TRG


These are my top bar hives. All built by me. 3 of them are inhabited right now, I hope to fill the others with splits (depending on how fast they multiply this spring) or swarms.
Last year was the first year for my top bar hives so the comb isn't fully filled out to the edges yet but this year should fix that. I just hope they can build comb fast enough to keep up with the Black Locust flow in late May. I don't want them to get honey bound and lose out on all that delicious honey. I may have to super them with Langstroth supers to keep them from becoming honey bound, but I don't know yet. It will be my first full Black Locust bloom with these hives because they were still fresh swarms last year when the bloom hit.

Pulling a comb out

Holding the comb up so the light will show through
Link Posted: 3/25/2009 6:02:04 PM EDT
Sweet!....

Link Posted: 3/26/2009 5:39:34 PM EDT
top bar hives! are those entrance holes half inch or 5/8?
Link Posted: 3/27/2009 4:28:08 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/27/2009 4:31:44 AM EDT by SigOwner_P229]
Originally Posted By FordGuy:
top bar hives! are those entrance holes half inch or 5/8?


3/4" With 3/4" holes it seems to be about the right size to allow 4-5 bees to squeeze through the hole at once where a smaller hole would severely limit that. There are 7 on each hive but 6 are plugged right now. The corks will be coming out in about a week or so when/if the dandelions begin to bloom.
Link Posted: 3/27/2009 6:22:41 AM EDT
I am interested in starting my own hives any advice for a complete novice? the top bar hives look fairly simple to build any special notes?
Link Posted: 3/27/2009 8:36:13 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/27/2009 8:51:23 AM EDT by SigOwner_P229]
Originally Posted By snakeshooter1:
I am interested in starting my own hives any advice for a complete novice? the top bar hives look fairly simple to build any special notes?


Hmm.... the easiest way is to find a local beekeeper or bee club that you can gain first-hand personal knowledge from. Otherwise you're going to spend a lot of time reading online. beesource has a forum and there is another forum that is a little more geared towards natural beekeeping which is often associated with top-bar hives. that site is biobees
Its been so long since I've been on those sites that I can't remember exactu URL's right now but if you google those you should hit on them. Beesource is a lot of US beekeepers that are more geared toward langstroth equipment (more commercialized and popular hives) and biobees is based in Europe and has beeks (beekeepers) from all over the world. I encourage you to check them out and do some reading. Thats how I got into it a few years ago. I spent hours reading online, now I rarely get on those sites anymore because a lack of time.

Top bar hives were invented for/in Africa for cheap beekeeping in remote villages where there isn't a great selection of materials. Many times you see hollowed out logs or barrels cut in half being used as hives.
Top Bar Hives are pretty easy to construct and there are no standards for sizes, which is an advantage because your not limited to certain material sizes, and it is a disadvantage because there is very little interchangeability. All of my hives, nucs, and transport boxes are standardized but they aren't likely going to match up with the neighbors equipment because I designed my own and he likely designed his own. One this that I did take into account was the size of standard langstroth equipment. I wanted my bars to fit lang boxes and my hives to be capable of having lang boxes stack on for supers. So my bars are the same width as lang frames, but because of the tapered sides in the hive lang frames will not fit inside my hives. The reason for the tapered sides is because w/o a full frame the bees will attach comb to the walls of the hive. But, if the walls are tapered most bees will treat that as a floor (which they don't attach comb to) so they won't attach as much comb. I have 1 hive that seems to want to attach a little bit of comb occasionally but that is it. My other hives very rarely ever attach comb on the sloped sides. The only extremely critical measurement is the width of the bars. Bees are very picky about their "bee space" that is the space between combs and the size of the combs that are used for raising brood (young). So the bar width must be very, very precise. My bars ended up shrinking a very small amount after cutting. They shrank maybe .010-015" after drying and that amount stacks up over 40 or so bars and eventually you find that the bees are trying to build the combs half on one bar and half on the other. So I corrected this by making some very think spacers that I insert when I find the comb spacing is getting slightly off. There are also many different bar designs too. My bar design is below. The rib gets rubbed with beeswax almost as a guide to show the bees where to build the comb, but they don't always follow that. The portion that is tapered up discourages them from straying from the rib and attaching their comb across the seam between bars.
Link Posted: 3/28/2009 7:38:21 PM EDT
That looks GREAT! This is good info. I don't think anybody in the beekeeping thread has posted pics of a top bar hive.

What about extraction? What kind of equipment do you use to extract from this comb?

Kitties
Link Posted: 3/29/2009 10:19:21 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Kitties-with-Sigs:
That looks GREAT! This is good info. I don't think anybody in the beekeeping thread has posted pics of a top bar hive.

What about extraction? What kind of equipment do you use to extract from this comb?

Kitties


Well, most people just press the comb flat and strain. Yeah, the bees have to rebuild comb, but it also gives a decent wax supply, and you don't have to purchase/borrow extraction equipment for a small start-up beekeeper. Maybe some day I will get into more Lang equipment and get an extractor, but for now I'm just concerned with being able to get some honey and also some wax to make candles etc.

Right now my extraction equipment consists of my hands, but I'm kicking around the idea of making a press that sits right above my strainer. Then I have a solar wax melter to melt the "balls" of crushed comb into wax blocks.
Link Posted: 3/29/2009 6:24:03 PM EDT
Nice!

How about posting the recipe for the bread?
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