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Adding Frames and Harvest Management

Post new topic   Reply to topic    beekeeping forum -> Horizontal top bar hives
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House Bee

Joined: 22 Jan 2011
Posts: 10
Location: Llandeilo, Wales, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2016 1:16 pm    Post subject: Adding Frames and Harvest Management Reply with quote

Hi All,

Sorry about the basic question but I hived a swarm in June and they seem to be doing well. I've added about half a dozen extra top bars and they are building comb. I was just wondering if I should stop adding more top bars at any point to allow them to concentrate on filling the comb they've already built?

Also, I was reading a piece in the BBKA magazine about potential health benefits of harvesting honey off comb which was previously used for brood. It got me wondering if it's possible to manage a tbh in a similar way to a warre hive ie. harvest the comb furthest from the entrance in the autumn and then add new bars closest to the entrance in the spring? It also seems to make sense with regards to recycling the comb. Obviously I wont be harvesting any honey this year but I'm just curious going forward.

I use lolly sticks as guides for the top bars and haven't had any problems with cross comb. So far!

Cheers guys
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Adam Rose
Silver Bee

Joined: 09 Oct 2011
Posts: 589
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would keep adding bars until it's obvious that they're not building any more comb. If the bees don't want the extra space, they won't build any comb. Either that happens or you run out of space in the hive and the decision is taken for you.

At some point they will start building comb that is designed specifically for honey. Typically these need to be spaced further apart than the ones originally designed for brood, even if they then get used for honey. At that point, you might well get some cross combing. The typical tactic is to use shims to increase the spacing between bars. Having said that, I nearly always fail to get it right and end up with some cross combing on the honey bars, which is easy enough to sort out when I harvest.

On your question about where to harvest and where to replace the bars, you may be interested in this discussion :

Personally, I can't be bothered with all that. Once the hive is establsihed, I harvest from the end furthest from the entrance and I just replace the bars that I harvest in the exact place they came from. But people do all sorts of different things, partly because with top bars you can do all those different things.

This year I had a hive die out on me, which left loads of honey. I extracted as much honey as I could, but then I separated out the wax and made mead with the disolved honey syrup that was left. This had loads of pollen, propolis and dead bees in it, so I'm hoping all that will improve the flavour !

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Silver Bee

Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2016 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For a swarm add bars to the outside of the nest only not into in between the brood bars the way you might for an established colony to expand their brood nest and suppress swarming. Let them expand at a rate comfortable to them in just one direction.

It is standard practice to cycle out old brood comb by using them to collect honey and harvesting.

I would recommend getting yourself a top bar book. Phil's Book 2: Managing a top bar hive, Les Crowder: Top bar beekeeping, and Christy Hemmegway: Thinking Beekeeper, are all good options and will give you some of the finer points of organising comb in spring pre-flow and winter.

As an aside some people write the month and year a top bar was inserted on the top so they know how long they have been there. For me I just remove them when they are visually showing signs of advanced use. You can remove without them being full of honey and put them in bait hives too as very old brood comb is an excellent lure and gives the swarm a good start.
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Quality Top Bar Hives by Andrew Vidler

Conserving wild bees

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Most bumble bee species need a dry space about the size a football, with a narrow entrance tunnel approximately 2cm in diameter and 20 cm long. Most species nest underground along the base of a linear feature such as a hedge or wall. Sites need to be sheltered and out of direct sunlight.

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