I mentioned this to the owner of a local farm Ive gone to a few work days with- He said TBH are awesome in equitorial/southern areas but take winters here hard. Knowing that Id suggest building a windbreak at least around it- Id hope that once they hibernate you could put them in a shed or something but with my luck id end up having it be warm enough that theyd all wake up.... I dont have one this year. Hes got bees on the roof of the Hilton downtown now too!
garden, rabbits, chickens, quail, mushrooms. Need more land!
A friend of ours with a TBH simply lags his hive with rolls of loft insulation during the winter. I would think that the modern foil backed stuff which is similar to the material used by mountaineers to protect against hypothermia would be perfect in a very cold area. You just need to allow ventilation so the hive can expel moisture, and the cluster of bees will do the rest. Also use a strain of bee that will overwinter well on few stores, preferably Carniolans and NOT Italian types.
I don't know whether things work the same way in the States, but in the UK it's worth joining the local Beekeepers' Associantion and enquiring about swarms, which are often available wt this time of year. Some people were asking about swarm lures earlier; I've never used them, but they say old broodcomb is just as good, and that certainly works. I have swarms move into empty hives most years; I got one about ten days ago.
I don't know whether things work the same way in the States, but in the UK it's worth joining the local Beekeepers' Associantion and enquiring about swarms, which are often available wt this time of year.
My brother collects swarms... He lets the local sheriff, and fire department, and pest exterminators know that he'll come and collect any swarms that get reported to them. And they are happy to call him so that they don't have to deal with swarms. He mostly ends up collecting Africanized bees so he has to re-queen them.
Silt/clay, high-altitude, super-arid, sun-drenched, irrigated-desert garden. Cold radiant-cooled nights. ~100 frost free days. Grow most of my own locally adapted landrace seed. GDD10C ~1300. Author of Mother Earth News: Landrace Gardening Blog.
I'm working on a Warré hive, think stackable top bar hive. It's mostly finished but I need to work more on the roof. I'm hoping it will be ready by next spring. Bees swarm late October/early November here.
Ray Silty loam over clay, pH 5.5, altitude 1000m, latitude 30deg south, 150 frost free days.
I've had my Top Bar Hive with bees for two months now and it's doing OK. My friend started two and they both swarmed on him. He drove hundreds of miles on Tuesday to buy two nucs. I have a hunch he built a couple Warré hives.
At the beginning of June, we were a few hours late to capture a swarm. It was that close!
Thanks for the helpful tips, everyone.
Last Edit: Jul 28, 2011 23:22:30 GMT -5 by stratcat
Top bar hives are just a reversion to the old hives where frames could not easily be moved. I understand the principles underlying the top bar culture, such as treating the bees in a different way, but I fear many potential new beekeepers will be lost after an experience with mangled comb and being unable to look after their hives.
Yes, they are a reversion in the sense that they are simpler. With all due respect, you are wrong when you say that they cannot be easily moved. As a topbar beekeeper, albeit a very new one, I have no problem moving bars although mine are actually frames without foundation. Yes, you do have to be careful to keep the comb vertical but that's not that big a deal. I not sure what you mean by mangled comb. If you mean that the comb won't be drawn evenly, yes that's a possibility but you can reduce the chances to virtually nil by using a starter strip unless you happen to have perverse bees who persist in drawing misshapen comb. It happens but not often.
I think there is an alternative which is using conventional hives with starter strips of foundation and treating your bees in the careful and sympathetic way that top bar hive or 'green beekeepers' suggest.
In my opinion (warning: if you have two beekeepers, you'll get three opinions), foundation is about as unfriendly to bees as it gets. You force one size of cell on the bees. Nature is far more random (from our perspective, not Hers) than one-size-fits-all. Additionally, foundation means that the same wax is re-used and re-used and re-used. In the hunt for the causes of CCD, scientists have established that chemicals built up in the wax. Foundationless beekeeping means that wax is used only once which means that there are no accumulated chemicals in the brood cell wax. Given that chemicals and foetuses are a bad combination, it seems to be that chemicals and larvae would also be a bad combination.
Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly - Dalai Lama
Anyone here have experience or know someone with a Top Bar hive?
Have been thinking about keeping bees off and on for many years now but never could afford the $500 or so just to start up.
Then I come across info on the top bar hives and thought "hey great we could build those easy." But then wondered what the heck we would do with it all during winter, especially when we get so much snow that would bury any hive boxes.
Yes I realise that these types of hives generate more wax than honey. That's OK, for we don't use that much honey and I am really more interested in the wax.
And someone told me that in Quebec they put beehives into winter shelters because the winters are so horrible. No idea about the validity of that statement. I don't speak French as I'm not native to Quebec and 9/10 of the Quebec websites are in French and I'm not able to find anyone locally to talk to about this.
Try contacting Dennis Murrell at Bee Natural. He's been a topbar beekeeper in a harsh climate (http://beenatural.wordpress.com/wyoming-beekeeping/wyoming-climate/) for years. He probably has some helpful guidance.
A small nit: Your comment that "these types of hives generate more wax than honey" should actually be "these types of hives generate more wax than honey than do Langstroth hives". The ratio of honey to wax is higher in a Langstroth hive than it is in a topbar hive not because of the hive but because just about all Langstroth beekeepers use foundation. Foundation cell size is larger than naturally drawn comb cell size which leads to more <strike>honey</strike> money.
Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly - Dalai Lama
After getting our first accumulating snowfall last night, I went out to check my hive after 1p today. The temperature was ~37F(3C) and the girls were out.
I wasn't wearing gloves when I took these pics and a bee buzzed my head and one bombed my thumb without stinging! In the first one, you can see a bee coming in for a landing and its shadow. The second one, a bee is flying over the roof and has a shadow.
Last Edit: Nov 30, 2011 15:28:21 GMT -5 by stratcat
I am wondering how your experience with Top-Bar hives has gone? Have you had difficulty with bees surviving the winter? Have the local strains of bees joined combs together with brace comb? When harvesting comb are you able to return comb to the hive or are you making cut comb. How are you handling inspection of the brood, disease, insect and mite issues? I would be really interesting in reading about your experiences.