runningtrailsFebruary 26, 2009

I want bees desperately! I want top bar hives. They're just little things but the dimentions have to be exact to keep the bees from connecting the comb to each other and the sides of the hive. I'm hoping to get a top bar hive built before spring. I would love to capture a swarming hive and get it into my new one. I think they awarm in the early spring when they come out of hibernation. Technically a swarmed hive still belongs to the original owner and he can claim it, legally, but most don't go looking for them. They would have to have a new hive to put it into.

Top bar hives are much better for the bees as the entire comb is built straight down by the bees and taken off the bar it is attached to. It is crushed to get the honey and melted down for beeswax. Nothing is left for moths, bacteria or parasites to get into and there's a lot more beeswax harvested.

The laws are fairly strict regarding beekkeeping here in Canada. It is illegal to buy second hand hives, because of disease and predator moths. Old hives are suppose to be burned and inspected. I think the market for new top bar hives is quite a good one, right now. If I can get this one built well and quickly for myself, I might consider building some for sale. lol! Another project!

All bee hives have to be registered with the gov too, so they can keep track of the numbers and inspect them to control the rapidly spreading disease. I'm ok with that. I understand the need for it. Our bee population is dwindling. I'll probably be pollinating my winter squash and pumpkins by hand this year. I didn't get good pollination last year and bees are the only things that pollinate them.

Does anyone keep bees and doesn anyone else have top bar hives? I knkow someone was talking about them recently.

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I kept bees for a dozen years. I dropped out for a couple years, but have a couple boxes on order this year to get started once again. There are all kinds of fancy hives out there. The top bar hives just hang the foundation from the top bar. Making the hive supers is fairly easy. I made quite a few when I started. Making the top bar frames is quite another matter--they require sophisticated woodworking skills and it is hardly worth the time and effort when you can buy them fairly cheap (they come as a "kit" that you put together). You also have to have hive stands, bottom boards, inner covers, outer covers and feeders. There are many styles and plans out there on the web for all of it, but I would buy the frames and build the rest with dimensions obtained from the plans on the 'net or in books at the local library.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 11:31AM
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You may want to post your question on the "bees and beekeeping" forum on this site. Also, it probably wouldn't hurt to post some ads on near your city, stating that if someone has a swarm of bees in their yard that you can come and take it away for them. So many people want to get rid of bees. If you were in the US, I'd say to contact your local agricultural extension and ask them about it too. Good luck! I hear the bees have been having problems because of pesticide contamination from industrial agriculture.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 12:20PM
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Thanks runningtrails!!! I too want bees--soooo bad. According to the person that has bees that is going to help me get started there are not any regulations for bee keeping. I have 4 acres and half is wooded. One my to do list is so big for this year, I am afraid that if I put one more thing on the list it will just tip over! lol. I am going to try and do it next year. I am not even sure where I would put the "bee houses". Will the bees bother the chickens and do bats eat them? Do you know how far away they should be kept from them (chickens)? When I was a kid we had 250 acres and kept them in the back 40.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 1:42PM
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bats eat at night, bees during the day.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 2:09PM
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WEll duh what was I thinking!! :)) LOL LOL I guess I was just trying to "think again"!!!


    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 2:16PM
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islandmanmitch(z 8/9 FL)

When I was a kid my Grandfather kept bees in what was called by the old timers as "sticks and gums". The original top bar hives. Gums were hollow sections of sweetgum tree trunks. Sticks were the top bars made out guessed it, sticks. Cost of investment? Nothing but a little time. I remember smoking the bees and opening the gums. Taking out the sticks and cutting the comb off into wash tubs. Next you would pick out most of the bee bread. You can't seem to get it all out. Bee bread is unborn baby bees. Had a lot of green honey along the bottoms of the combs too. Green honey is uncapped honey, nasty tasting stuff. We had cheese cloth with broom sticks sewed to the ends. You placed the comb in the cloth with one person on each end and turn in opposite directions wringing the comb catching the honey, green honey and bee bread all mixed together in the wash tub. The good old days.
My Father kept bees in Langstrom style hives. He built them himself but it took more time to build and he had to buy material. We would smoke the hive. Take off the top and slide out nice uniform frames of comb. No bee bread no green honey. Most frames we would put in the homemade honey slinger and sling all the honey out and leave the comb. We put the empty frames back into the hive and the bees would start filling them back up. Some we cut the comb out for comb honey and placed the frame back in the hive. The bees have to eat honey to make wax and it takes months for them to replace the wax let alone refill them with honey so we did not take much comb honey. Some people like to go back to the old ways of doing some things. I like doing some things the old way. When it comes to top bar hives, Not. My hives are Langstrom style. Very easy to inspect and manage. Less time to work the hive. Produces better quality honey. Produces so much more honey. Less stress on the bees after you harvest their honey.
I used to have over two hundred hives. First came the mites. Then the small hive beetle. Then CCD. Then very low honey prices. I was down to one hive. I kept it going because I am a fourth generation beekeeper and I didn't want the tradition to die. I have no children but a Nephew became interested. "WE" are now up to 26 hives and plan on more by summers end. The tradition lives on to yet another gereration.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 10:23PM
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Lots of great info there islandmanmitch! I may be asking you some questions when I get bees, which may not be until next spring.

I know there are a lot of problems with CCD, mites, moths, and other diseases and parasites in bees. There are no reused boxes for storing honey and the comb is built anew after each harvest with TB hives, this is what makes them desirable - cleaner and with less chance of disease/parasite infection. There will be less honey in the same time span but also less chance of problems from invasion of the previous plagues and a lot more beeswax. I am as interested in the surplus of beeswax as I am in the honey - to make soap and candles. The hives are so small you can just add another one if you need more honey. I have never kept bees, so am only going by what is out there in the books and on the net.

I assume the TB hives are easily raised for inspection and only harvested when they are ready? and the honey is strained after dripping into the container.

I have never heard of green honey. I did a Google search for it and nothing. I have not read of it in any books. Do you have info on knowing when the honey is ready to be harvested?

In TB hives the comb is lifted and examined from both sides before deciding to harvest. I will have to read up on judging the readiness of the comb before harvest, when I do get bees.

Great idea to post in the want ads for bees! There probably are a lot of people who want bees removed. The trick is getting them to my hives from their current home. I have read how to capture a swarm, but if they are not swarming, I don't know how I would capture the queen. I will have to do some more research on that. Maybe I can contact companies that remove bees hives and ask them what they do with the hive.

I have lots of 1" new wood to build with. Small, simple and cheap is what I am looking for, so I'm building them myself.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 8:24AM
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islandmanmitch(z 8/9 FL)

If wax is your primary reason for beekeeping, then a top bar hive may work for you but you can remove the wax comb from Langstrom style hives just as easy as you do from TB at each harvest. The reason for not removing the wax is you get about three times the honey per season because they don't have to remake all the wax. It may not be that much difference in your area because I have a 9 month honey season and I know you don't. I rotate out my comb every other year. With either style hive you are reusing the same hive body and internal frames or top bars even if you remove the comb. No TB advantage there. I learned a trick from a pest control buddy. I have an old large gas oven that is big enough to hold a complete deep hive body with the frames inside that has been modified. It sterilizes the hives for all parasites and for American and European Foulbrood. Infected hives DO NOT have to be burned. Your laws may require burning but it is not necessary. If you need more information on how to modifying the oven and documentation to back up the procedure let me know.
Green honey? Sorry for the confusion with my Cracker English. Green honey is uncapped honey. It has not been fully condensed by the bees. Honey is ready to harvest when FULLY capped. Capped honey has a moisture content below 18% or there about. Green honey is 20% or more and can ferment. With TB hives you cannot get fully capped comb without a lot of waste. Langstrom you can easy. With TB the comb is attached only at the top bar in the perfect world. The bees WILL tie it together through out the comb. They can't help it because it is their nature to secure the comb. You pull the TB and if the comb breaks loose and it does you have a mess. Langstrom has a wooden frame all the way around so it is easy to pull out without tearing the comb. I do not like the idea of baby bee guts mixed in with my honey. Ate it that way growing up but that is the way we did it. Don't have it in Langstroms. No bee bread, pollen or green honey, just pure honey. You said TB hives are small. True to a point. They will not hold as many bees as a Langstrom hive causing them to swarm more often. You do not want them to swarm. Swarming bees are not making wax or honey. Each time a hive swarms they are weaken by about 50% and have more chance of robbing from stronger hives and stress. Stressed hives get all the nasty problems. People have TB hives and love them. For the life of me I don't see any advantages. TB hive dimensions are not critical, it is the spacing of the bars that is important. I know a guy who has TB hives in old refrigerators. Not legal in Florida but you try telling a Crackers what he can keep in his refrigerator. Speak of refrigerators you can make a good solar wax melter out of one. You will need a way of melting wax I am sure. If interested let me know. Then you have the chemicals that you MUST use or your bees will not survive. Period. Don't care what anyone tells you. I have my bees isolated untreated on an island for the past year with no loses. It is yet to be seen if they will survive this year. I have a contract to supply chemical free honey. They pay unbelievable prices for honey that is tested and certified poison free. Zero trace. If I have to treat my bees I default on the contract and I will go back to being a hobbyist.
Whew this is so much longer than I had planned and I have not even started good, Sorry

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 11:36AM
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When I was younger we had a bee keeper store his hives on our land in the winter. I use to talk his arm off when he came to tend to thing and learned a lot. If I remember right he bought or made wax combs in those 4 sided little boxes (Langstrom type??) to replace the filled one he took out to increase his honey production. He had several hundred hives and rented them out to the orchards around the area and did well by it. He has long passed on but I do remember him as being a very patient man to a young inquisitive boy.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 11:50AM
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Wow! Lots of great info! Long is good, no problem! I am just doing all the reseearch I can right now. I am building the hives myself and this is one reason I wanted small and simple. I would be interested in knowing how to sterilize the hives with a cooker but I don't know if we would be allowed to do that if there was actually a problem, but yes for our own use. If there is a problem with the bees of any kind, they have to be inspected and are often inspected anyway. ALl bee hives have to be registered with the Ontario government now. If the inspector finds anything suspecious, he burns the hives. I think it has to be done in a certain way, burned and buried. We are to call him to dispose of any hives. Then he comes out and does it himself, strictly regulated.

I guess it's probably because there is such a shortage of bees here. I first wanted bees to pollinate my two huge vegetable gardens because we don't have many bees in this area. I know my squash was not pollinated well last year and only bees pollinate squash.

Not so much for honey production, although I would like to have our own honey and, as I said, I would really like the beeswax. Honey for sale is fairly strictly governed. It has to be sold in steralized specific bottles of specific demensions and labeled a certain way, etc. etc. I don't know if I want to get into that right now. Maybe another year when I am not so busy I can add that to our farm sales, but it would take too much research for this year. Mostly I just want the bees for the garden and the wax for soap and candles and for sale. I don't think there are laws governing the sale of beeswax.

Whatever hive I use, I have to build myself and it needs to be simple to make and easy to use. From what I have read, if the house of the TB hive is a specific angle, the bees will not connect to it but the dimensions have to be exact and a specific size and angle to prevent this, which is why I haven't done it yet. I'm just not sure I can do it right. I seem to be 100% right brained :-) Because of this one problem, I am still considering building boxed hives but I can't seem to find a small and simple buildling plan.

I may not get it before spring but I would surely love to have bees this year! Once the ground thaws, there will be no building anything for a long time.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 3:42PM
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islandmanmitch(z 8/9 FL)

Florida has some of the strictest beekeeping laws in the USA. Every beekeeper has to be registered with the state. If you have one hive you are a beekeeper. Your hives must be inspected yearly by state inspector. If Foulbrood is found in your hives the state inspector digs a hole and burns them on the spot. The state pays you for the hives they burn. If you are suspicious of a hive being sick you are required to call the state inspector. To move hives you are required to have inspection and travel permit. State also has regulations on what you can house your bees in. They strongly recommend Langstrom style hives. I am not talking about the bees attaching the comb to the sides of the hive. I am talking about between the hanging combs.You can build it to any exact angles and dimensions but the comb will still get cross built. Hide and watch. Some bees are worse about it than others but it will happen. They will do it in Langstrom too but the full frame makes it easier to remove.
Florida requires a Bottlers License to sell to the public. Have to have approved facility with health inspections. I do not sell to public. I sell in bulk. Nothing required.
Previously I stated I know of no advantage TB hives have over Langstrom. In every aspect they are inferior in my opinion. I want to correct myself. After some thought I came up with one reason. Lack of resources. I have seen Crackers use trash cans, refrigerators, gutted washing machines, wooden crates, old ice chest and even cardboard boxes for TB hives. If you really cannot afford Langstrom style hives then OK do it with what you got. If you ain't got much you ain't ah needing much. Langstrom hives are simple enough to build if you have a tablesaw. The internal frames are tricky to build but they are cheap enough to buy. For the amount of time, effort and money that is required to be a beekeeper I think you should get the most from it.
I am sounding like a nay sayer and keeping on about it but I think the resurrection of the TB hive is hype. Which ever route you take I wish you the best of luck. If I can help in any way just ask otherwise enough said.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 12:36AM
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Sounds identical to our laws here. I am not going to sell honey to the public right away. I may add it another year if I have time to research the laws and comply.

It's ok. I know people who are just as fanatical about TB hives, too. I'm looking at all aspects of both and trying to decide what is best for me. I happy to get all the information I can and thank you.

How much beeswax do you harvest from one L hive? As I said, I am more interested in the wax, right now, than the honey and would like some general numbers.

I have a radial arm saw and lots of 1" new wood. I have been studying plans for building all kinds of hives and variations, off and on, for the past few years. I will be building the entire thing - have no money for bees right now. I know I have to buy some equipment like the suit and netting and gloves etc. and maybe a smoker,(but I can make that). I am hoping to possibly find that stuff second hand and build the rest.

I want quick and simple but not sloppy. I want strong healthy hives but I have no time for anything complicated right now. Time constraints are an issue for me. As mentioned, when the ground thaws there will be no building for awhile as I will be working outside. Must move on to garden things then and we both work full time, all day in the city. It may not happen this year but I can get them built this year and get bees next spring.

Spring is coming soon! Yippee! But I still have so much to do first...

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 6:08AM
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Good Morning runningtrails, I have been doing some research on bees---I want them so bad!!!! :)) and I have been following this thread also--and like you I have the tools and the wood to make the hives---No really this Hen wants Honey!!!:):) LOL LOL. I was given some very good advice from a very wise "old" man---He said if you don't have the time to spend with and for them, then don't get them until you are ready because they will die,---Well I thought about that and again he is right! I can't imagine what would happen if I only spent some of my time with my girls--they would not be thriving like they are and that is because I spend huge amounts of time with them Sooooo, I am going to start a journal at home and put all the information in it that I can get about bees/boxes and by next year I will be able and ready to spend quality time on my bees!! So runningtrails lets keep talking and planning about bees because-------------THIS HEN WANTS HONEY LOL!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 7:29AM
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Good morning to you too, Nelda!

That's very good advice, Nelda! I have thought about that too and I think I would be rushing it to get the bees this year. I do want to get the hives built this year, though, maybe in bits and pieces through out the summer and fall. I want to know exactly what I am doing before I start building. I need time to study the plans and understand them well.

I want to do it right and have healthy bees we can enjoy.

I want honey too, but only for us right now, not for sale and we don't eat a lot of it.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 8:12AM
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adirondackgardener(Western Maine)

I worked (minimally) with bees many years ago and am getting back into it this year. I'm in the middle of a 12 week beekeeping course run by the Western Maine Beekeeper's association and strongly recommend such a course for new beekeepers.

I am also interested in the simplicity of top bar hives but I'll be starting again with one Langstroth hive. There are a number of reasons for this. I have some experience with that type. The course I'm taking revolves around it. The members of the association are all using those hives and those are the folks I will need to help me out in a pinch. That hive can be a source of bees for a new top bar hive. And the Langstroth is a reliable type of hive for over-wintering in the frigid north.

In short, I need to get myself back up to speed in the usual method of beekeeping before I decide another method is "better for the bees" as you say.

There are beekeepers using top bar hives successfully in the north. There are also beeks using top bars in Langstroth hives, a method I will be trying also. Also small-cell foundation in frames. There are many ways to keep bees naturally and I would be mistaken if I thought I had the knowledge to say which one is better for the bees without having the experience of trying them all or a means of comparison. (I've read a lot about TB hives and a lot makes good sense to me but before I commit to any "ideology," I need a bit experience to determine its suitability.)

The hive I am starting this Spring from a nuc could possibly be split later to start a top bar hive. Or I might be lucky enough to capture a swarm. In any case, I'll have a top bar hive ready to try.

Bees don't swarm in early spring, at least not in this part of the world (and they do not hibernate.) Here in Western Maine you might find a swarm in late May at the earliest, more usually in June. If you are planning to start your hive by capturing a swarm, keep in mind that the possibility exists that you may not have bees this year. It would also seem that your hive will be at least a month behind hives started with purchased bees. If you decide to purchase bees for this spring, make sure order them now. No one stocks them and waits for customers to take them off the shelves.

Again, I'd recommend finding a good beekeeping school or at least an experienced person that will be willing to show you the basics even if you've decided to not use their methods.

Good luck with your future hives. The world needs more bees and beekeepers.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 8:32AM
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Thanks Wayne I have seen classes that you can take-I love learning new things, I am going to look into some classes in the fall when my chicken/egg business slows down! LOL it has not slowed down this winter! But I am going to take some classes this fall on beekeeping, put that together with what I learn from people on the forum-hopefully by next year I will be good to go! Like we have all said, just looking to becoming more self-sufficient.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 8:47AM
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I'm glad to hear they don't swarm iin the early spring! I'm way too busy then to do bees but will have the time to commit to them later in the summer.

I course is a great idea! I'm going to see what's available around here.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 3:27PM
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I have accepted that I will probably not have bees this year. My goal for this year is to get the hives completely finished and acquire everything I will need. Then I will take a course, if possible, or read and research everything I can find on the subject and talk to beekkeepers I know in this area so I am ready for them next year.

I have considered buying a nuc. I'm not concerned with competing beekkeepers, as I don't plan to sell honey for a few years. I know that acquiring a swam is chancy and I may end up buying the bees - but I'm hoping!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 4:39PM
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we have a swarm of bees in our front yard tree. they swarmed inside one of our bird houses, so i think they found their hive & are not going to leave. does anybody know of a free removal service in naples,florida? they appeared yesterday, 7/23/11.
cheryl nicklos

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 1:13PM
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Call your extension department, if you have one. Mine keeps lists of bee keepers who are willing to gather a swarm to add to their hives. I have had to have swarms with a queen removed and they often call a local orcharist, since most of them have their own hives. I am seeing an increase in bee activity here, thank God. Many people with swarm issues and three years ago a colony established itself in a cavity tree near our house. I have a small orchard and a veggie garden from which I can each year and was thrilled. They are very docile and having them so close to habitation has not been a problem.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 1:24PM
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