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Top bar hive.

 
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Donald
New Bee


Joined: 16 Aug 2014
Posts: 2
Location: UK, Hereford, Ross-on-Wye

PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 10:36 pm    Post subject: Top bar hive. Reply with quote

Hello all
This is my first time using this forum, or any forum come to that, so please bare with me.
I am new to bee keeping, this year in fact, it was brought upon me through my work, house maintenance. I was ask to remove a bees nest from the roof of a house, which ended up being four nests. So I currently have four hives, three of which are top bar hives.

I went for the echo floor when I built the hives, as it seemed a good idea to me. I used the chippings left from cutting longs with a chain saw and a little saw dust. The bees have decided to remove this, in one hive right down to the wire mesh. I replaced this with the same material, mixing new with old. Again they are removing it...

Two of the hives have stopped (least I think they have) after removing about an inch. I think I really need to check closer though, at the same time if I am using incorrect material, be better to wait...

Has this happened to anyone else, or can anyone offer any advice or knowledge..

Regards

Donald
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catchercradle
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1487
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 7:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would only use the stuff from chain saw if you use a vegetable based chain oil. I don't have open mesh floors at present on my two htbh hives but plan on converting one of them to a deep floor that I can put sawdust from chain saw into.
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Donald
New Bee


Joined: 16 Aug 2014
Posts: 2
Location: UK, Hereford, Ross-on-Wye

PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apologies if this is a second reply, still finding my way around.
I was wondering if a thick layer of fine saw dust would conceal any oil residue. Finding the right material to suit the bees is less easy than it appears. Any idea what Phil Chandler uses?
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Donald and welcome to the forum

I think quite a few of us have experienced this problem (or should I say, caused this extra work for our bees). I have solid floors in most of my hives and I am not a fan of open mesh floors unless there is a board or solid surface within half an inch below it.
I was captivated by the idea of the eco floor though.
My first attempt with one was retrofitted below an open mesh floor in a top bar hive and removing the existing mesh with bees in situ was too awkward. Obviously that meant the bees could not access the medium to remove it. After 2 years, I have just disassembled that hive and was horrified to find the deep litter (sawdust) crawling with wax moth larvae. The comb in the hive thankfully showed no infestation though. It has made me realise that it is really important for the bees to have access to the deep litter though, so they can patrol it and remove whatever they don't like.

But then you have to try to figure out what they don't like and from my experience, it is recently cut/new wood. Like you I have used wood shavings and sawdust in subsequent deep litter floors and similarly seen the bees removing it at great effort. Seeing a white wood shaving 4 times the size of a bee being dragged out of the hive and carried off into the distance some 40-50 feet before being dropped makes you feel pretty bad about having put it there in the first place, I can tell you.

For my most recent hive I have used 1/4 inch mesh which is obviously large enough for bees/wasps to get through and also there was the potential for quite a bit of the medium to fall through, so I lined it with newspaper and dry grass and then some shredded hardwood that had been sitting around in a heap for 8 months and was nice and black because it was starting to break down(the sort of stuff that would probably be in the bottom of a tree cavity I would guess) and then I picked some lavender and oregano and lemon balm and ripped it into pieces and sprinkled that on the surface.... I know, you wouldn't find that in a tree!.... but looking at that black rotting tree compost in the bottom of my hive nice new hive, I just felt I had to cover it with something a little more pleasant! So far I have not seen any material being removed by the bees. It remains to be seen how this medium works long term, but I'm pretty certain there were wood lice and earwigs already in it and no doubt countless other insects and microorganisms which I imagine may be beneficial.
I have no real idea why I put the dry grass in first, I was just trying different things and that was one of them. It is 3-4 inches deep and the grass probably only accounts for 1/2 an inch of that and the composted shredded hardwood mulch the remainder. Perhaps you could leave your chainsaw castings lying around for 6 months or so before you use them.

I was going to use semi composted soiled sawdust bedding from my horses but the hens got into the heap I had put to one side for the purpose and scattered about everywhere, so it wasn't recoverable. My bees love to visit the horses urine soaked bedding, so I had thought it might be a beneficial addition. I must remember to bag it next time!

Dry leaves are of course another option..... hedge trimmings perhaps, but again, probably best left to start breaking down rather than fresh.

Regards

Barbara
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nannybee
Foraging Bee


Joined: 21 Jun 2012
Posts: 127
Location: Deeping St. James Lincolnshire UK

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 8:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm coming to the end of a first season with a deep litter floor on one of my tbhs. I've got a mesh floor and then the deep floor added below that so the bees can't get access to it (but I am wondering if this is necessary - or, indeed, if it defeats the purpose!) I filled it with a mixture of last year's home made compost from our heap, wood shavings (dust extracted hen bedding) and leaf litter from the garden.
Compared to the ordinary moveable bottom board hive next door, I found the colony in the deep floor hive built up much quicker in the spring and actually swarmed twice before the end of June. Since then, though, it has only re-built fairly slowly. It fills about 2/3rds of the hive now. I've added back the cast swarm which it threw and which really hasn't thrived in a flower pot nuc with the aim of uniting the two again before winter.
The other difference to the conventional floor is that the deep floor bees spent more time on the face of the hive in the hot spell we had; either washboarding during the day or spending the night in a small group outside. Perhaps the ventilation is less easy for them in it?
I haven't removed the floor to check for nasties but there's no sign of varroa or wax moth on the colony at all so far (I don't treat for it)
It'll be interesting to see how they over winter compared to the other hive!
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Nannybee

I have a gut feeling that it is quite important for the bees to have access to their whole environment, so I don't like the idea of them being separated from the floor by the mesh. I felt that the wax moth infestation in my deep floor was something the bees would not have tolerated if they had been able to access it and it must have put their comb at more risk as it was a constant source of the pest within the hive and the mesh floor is a large area to have to patrol. I will definitely be removing the mesh, before I replace the litter on that hive and repopulate.

I think it is easy and tempting to make comparisons between hives, when you only have 2 or 3, but I think it can be dangerous to draw any significant conclusions about the hive construction from such a small sample as there are so many other variables.

For instance, I find that one of my solid floor nationals takes forever to develop a new queen after it has swarmed and cast. The last 2 years it has been over 4 weeks from swarming till they have shown any signs of new brood and I have all but lost hope by then. My small top bar colony which lives in a 10 bar nuc, also with a solid floor, seems to get right back to work and ends up looking far stronger than the large national..... even though it has also thrown multiple swarms.

It always amazes me how bees adapt. That colony has happily survived 3 years in a 10 bar Kenyan nuc with nothing more for a roof than a sheet of plastic over the top bars and a brick to keep it in place. It was started from a cast. Has never been fed or fully inspected. It throws healthy, amazingly large swarms for it's size each year and although it isn't big enough to produce a surplus of honey, it is very happy and easily self sufficient.

The nuc box was made by someone local, who wanted to start beekeeping and brought it for me to populate but never came back. I have kept it as it is, since I still feel that it is their hive and colony. It has barely half inch thickness walls and no insulation. I wonder if perhaps my dark bees prefer this small cavity to a larger hive, because so far they have never given me cause for concern and always look "right"

Anyway, I have digressed badly.... as usual Embarassed

Personally I think it is important for the bees to be able to do something about their environment if they don't like it, particularly if we have imposed it upon them, but we also need to follow their lead and if they are removing something that we have put in then we need to think about why they don't like it and provide an alternative that they are happier with.

Apologies for my ramblings

Barbara
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nannybee
Foraging Bee


Joined: 21 Jun 2012
Posts: 127
Location: Deeping St. James Lincolnshire UK

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

All points taken, Barbara! Just interested to have two hives next door to each other and see how they do, anyway! The deep floor hive was made for me by John at Bentham Bees and I thought I'd discuss the mesh issue with him, too, to see what he thinks about taking it out (and how to!)
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1123
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cast your mind back and I questioned putting that mesh in! Your idea was to be able to remove the eco-floor for replacement without the bees coming out, if I remember correctly.

I'd say take it out. I cannot remember if that was a plastic or steel mesh.
*If steel, the only way is to lower the eco-floor and unscrew the mesh. the eco-floor should fit back in without adjustment.
*If plastic you could drop the eco-floor and cut out the mesh with a Stanley knife, or cut out from above a bit at a time when inspecting. Think I'd prefer to do it from below.

Either way, don't forget your bee suit!! Shocked

Another variable with your two hives is insulation, one being 25mm cedar, the other 20mm pine.
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MikeRobinson
Foraging Bee


Joined: 01 Apr 2012
Posts: 200
Location: Upper Northwest Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My feeling is that, since trees and such don't have wire-mesh floors, but are fully enclosed spaces with small openings, that's what a hive ought to be too.

We can "guess" that we are "doing the bees a favor" and be, well, completely wrong. A large opening at the bottom of the hive makes it utterly impossible for the bees to maintain climate-control inside, because "inside" is now, well, "outside." A healthy bee colony doesn't need our help keeping their living space clean as a whistle.
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nannybee
Foraging Bee


Joined: 21 Jun 2012
Posts: 127
Location: Deeping St. James Lincolnshire UK

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 3:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quite right, John - I do remember discussing it now! Well, it probably wasn't the right decision after all; I think I thought I might want to take the deep floor off and didn't want an open floor (although I think Phil runs at least one open bottom hive?) I do like the deep floor though (and will find out if the bees do) It was a metal screen so will need unscrewing. I'll see about a good time to do it and let you know how it goes. Will be interested to see how Barbara gets on when she takes her mesh out, too!
(PS Straight cut or cross head screws? I like to be prepared!)
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1123
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nannybee wrote:
(PS Straight cut or cross head screws? I like to be prepared!)


No 2 Pozi-drive - i.e. cross-head with a small star shaped cross between the main cross.
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nannybee
Foraging Bee


Joined: 21 Jun 2012
Posts: 127
Location: Deeping St. James Lincolnshire UK

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ha! Blinding me with science, now, John!
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nannybee
Foraging Bee


Joined: 21 Jun 2012
Posts: 127
Location: Deeping St. James Lincolnshire UK

PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, we removed the mesh floor between the hive and the deep floor yesterday evening. We took the deep floor off first and I was pleased to see it was dry and there seemed nothing sinister in the litter and compost. When we took the mesh off I was surprised to see that the bees had propilised it completely - right through the mesh until it was rigid, up to where the follower had been.
The deep floor is back now with nothing between it and the bees. It had been on for about 11 months and bees had been in the hive since April this year so the filling is well matured and should be acceptable, I hope. The only thing that I wonder is; if they propilised as they did - will it be too 'draughty' for them? They'll seal up the edges I'm sure but after that?
What have others found with this floor?
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