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arvo

How did folk get on with top-bars last season?

Hi All,

We're getting on top of downsizering our garden this year, under the impressive leadership of Chez. (Veg beds, penning in stuff, paths, fences).

But I wondered looking out across our lovely field, how much hassle a top-bar would be to deal with. I am the laziest bee-keeper on gods green earth, but if I remember, I quite fancy the pollinators and the honey.

What to folk think?
Cathryn

The year before, my bees were doing well. They were a cast swarm but had begun to build up well. They'd drawn out lovely clean white comb on about half a dozen of the bars before I went on holiday and they swarmed. I think you need to try and get them started as soon as possible so that they have a chance to build up properly ahead of winter. Not sure if mine would have been strong enough but I am trying again this year and looking forward to it. I intend to be very hands off (of course) but I will watch out for potential swarming.
Jamanda

I thought yours were done for by the badgers Cathryn?
Mistress Rose

Do you have any particular reason for going for a top bar hive Arvo? You can be hands off with a 'conventional' hive, but it does make inspection, organisation and honey removal easier. I would suggest occasional inspection to check for disease and to ensure that a swarm is not imminent. Again, with a conventional hive you can fairly readily do something about a potential swarm.
Cathryn

I thought yours were done for by the badgers Cathryn?


It happened during the two week holiday that we took, that'll learn us! I know that they came back and finished off the small number that remained.

I am putting hurdles around it this time. Fingers crossed.
sgt.colon

What is meant by swarm please?
joanne

What is meant by swarm please?


A swarm occurs when the colony feels it's getting too big for the available space, the colony starts feeding certain chosen larvae in a slightly different way and building Queen Cells which when they hatch will produce a new virgin Queen.

Once those Queen Cells are capped, the original Queen will leave the colony along with 50% of the flying bees to create a new colony and create space in the hive. This is known as a prime swarm.

When the new Queens start to hatch, if the colony is still congested, the first Queen to hatch will take 50% of the remaining flying bees and again fly off to create a new colony, this is known as a cast swarm.

The cast swarms will continue until its deemed ( by the hive mind) that there is enough space and the remaining Queen will kill any more Queen cells to assert dominance. She will then go on mating flights and then hopefully start laying eggs in the now depleted colony
sgt.colon

Thanks Joanne.

If you think swarming is going to take place, could you not just put in another hive and hope that they move in there?
joanne

Yes you can and you can enhance the chances by putting in some beeswax so they are attracted by the smell, they are known as bait hives however bee's are notoriously fussy and prevention is better than trying to catch an escaped prime swarm, so you try and manage the colony by doing a split when you notice Queen cells starting to be built.

It's one of the reasons for traditional beekeepers checking their colonies on a weekly rotation because it takes 10 days before a Queen cell is capped.

People using Warre or Topbars are more inclined to let the bees do what they want with less interference - it's the more natural way
Cathryn

In my case it was bad timing. I should have checked them before we went away. If I had spotted it I would have tried artificial swarming and used the other half of the topbar hive. All theory of course. Circumstances and general idleness are just as likely to get in the way next time! sgt.colon

Thanks Joanne. Smile Tavascarow

Do you have any particular reason for going for a top bar hive Arvo? You can be hands off with a 'conventional' hive, but it does make inspection, organisation and honey removal easier. I would suggest occasional inspection to check for disease and to ensure that a swarm is not imminent. Again, with a conventional hive you can fairly readily do something about a potential swarm. Have you worked a top bar hive? I can do all of those manipulations without even using a smoker.
There are some manipulations that are easier in a framed hive but your assumptions aren't any of those.
As you say though, you can keep bees in a leave alone way in any type of hive.
What I think arvo will find though is once he starts keeping bees he will want to know more about the bees.
One of the things I like about HTB hives is the ability to include a viewing window & see what's happening in the hive without any disturbance at all.
Great if you have kids & not something you can do easily in a conventional hive unless you build it yourself at much greater expense.
Saying all of that my HTBH which I populated with a cast last year has had a problem with the combs collapsing this winter because of the extreme gales rattling the hive.
I keep bees in national & HTB hives & hoping to try a warre hive this year but from experience so far the bees are easier to handle in a HTBH.
Tavascarow

Yes you can and you can enhance the chances by putting in some beeswax so they are attracted by the smell, they are known as bait hives however bee's are notoriously fussy and prevention is better than trying to catch an escaped prime swarm, so you try and manage the colony by doing a split when you notice Queen cells starting to be built.

It's one of the reasons for traditional beekeepers checking their colonies on a weekly rotation because it takes 10 days before a Queen cell is capped.

People using Warre or Topbars are more inclined to let the bees do what they want with less interference - it's the more natural way
The most extensive study I've read is Tom Seeleys.
If you Google Tom Seeleys bait hives you will find it.
Old brood comb, the smell of propolis & lemon grass oil or citronella are all attractants but the size & placement of the hive is more important IMHO.
Mistress Rose

We tend to let our modern hives alone most of the time as they are not somewhere that swarms are going to bother people.

I would suggest that a certain amount of inspection is a good idea if swarms may be a problem, and to check for disease. Foul brood is around in southern England, and having infected hives is not popular among the beekeeping fraternity.
Lorrainelovesplants

I have to say that a lot of bee problems are caused by neglect.
Empty hives being left to their own devices, no attempt at any varroa control and people who get bees because its the 'in' thing and then cant be bothered or dont want to learn how to keep them.
I understand that everyone has to start somewhere, but having a mentor is a really good idea. I left our local club as the age range of members was very old and regemented.
Cathryn

Are you all registered on the beebase? gardening-girl

I am!
I have one national.
I may have a quick look inside this afternoon ,its very warm and sunny here.
Lorrainelovesplants

Im not, but know the local bee inspector who has been to visit a couple of times - very helpful lady.

My bees got a clean bill of health, although she was concerned at the lack of forage locally (we are surrounded by maize & rape fields.

They seem to do okay though....
Tavascarow

We tend to let our modern hives alone most of the time as they are not somewhere that swarms are going to bother people.

I would suggest that a certain amount of inspection is a good idea if swarms may be a problem, and to check for disease. Foul brood is around in southern England, and having infected hives is not popular among the beekeeping fraternity.
The problem with regular inspection is every time you open a conventional hive you usually have to subdue it with smoke which disturbs the equilibrium of the colony for some time afterwards. Another plus in favour of HTB hives.
Much about what happens inside (including brood disease & imminent swarming) can be determined through observation at the entrance, especially if you use senses of smell & hearing as well as sight.
Read 'At the hive entrance' by Storch.
Valuable book.
mochasidamo


The problem with regular inspection is every time you open a conventional hive you usually have to subdue it with smoke which disturbs the equilibrium of the colony for some time afterwards. Another plus in favour of HTB hives.
Much about what happens inside (including brood disease & imminent swarming) can be determined through observation at the entrance, especially if you use senses of smell & hearing as well as sight.
Read 'At the hive entrance' by Storch.
Valuable book.

Usually? Erm, no. The only advantage of a htbh can be simulated very simply using clean smooth tea-towels to keep the frame tops covered except where you are working. You can use water sprays with box hives any time it's warm enough to work them.

Please explain how you can detect foul broods from outside a hive.
Mistress Rose

That's what mainly bothers me too Mochasidamo.

Lorraine, I am surprised your bee inspector is worried about lack of forage if there is rape in the area. It should be coming into flower now and the bees will really go for it. It is often the main crop for our bees in the woods, although they also go onto things like bramble later in the year.
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