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cold climate top bar keeping debate

 
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Ernie Farmboy
Foraging Bee


Joined: 02 Sep 2009
Posts: 141
Location: USA, Olympia, Washington

PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 6:25 pm    Post subject: cold climate top bar keeping debate Reply with quote

It's the old "Top Bar hives can't survive cold winter climates" debate again. I know there has to be a thread on this subject somewhere on the forum. I don't really want to start another one. I just need some help searching for that thread(s). This is for research for debate with a few local keepers that think I'm just lucky.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2015 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is no LUCK in science/observation. Bees in a certain box survive cold winter = IT WORKS Very Happy Beekeepers talking like those guys are childish and ignorant, why try to explain anything to them when even if it already worked for you in your locality they still dont believe Laughing Only cure against Ignorance is Insight meditation and not persuasion.

By the way Im also lucky that my bees survive winters down to -27'C and my good friend too which has bees in Varmland Sweden which is extremely cold for the last 7 years in top bar hives. We even have members here from Canada which overwinter TBH colonies no issues.

Many forum threads have been lost because of some server issues or similar ... not sure about the details though.
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AugustC
Silver Bee


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

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really don't understand the persistance of the idea that kTBH do not work in cold climates in the direct opposition to the fact that they do. I think it is down to two main reasons:
1) There is the word Kenyan at the front which obviously means is only works somewhere hot.
2) The physical law that heat rises would make vertical hives more thermally efficent than vertical hives.

With 1), there is little you can do with such blinkered small-mindedness other than to suggest only clergyman can keep langstroths!
With 2) They are often unawre that the hive is reduced in size going into winter to roughly the same size of a vertical hive box, only due thanks to its trapezoid (if that is the word) profile heat retention is more efficent.

Other than that people will not understand if they really do not want to. Best of luck.
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orchard
Nurse Bee


Joined: 28 Apr 2015
Posts: 30
Location: Abergavenny

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a noob, I think you guys ought to have some objective evidence here to counter those that say colonies won't survive more than a year in TBH's, mainly because, someone who's inexperienced has no ready way of being able to resolve the various allegations levelled at TBH's. IMO, a lot of people starting out may be put off of TBH's as a consequence of some of the (dis)information out there...my 2cent's Smile
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biobee
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 1051
Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's some evidence:

https://youtu.be/zyX00_BiKX4
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orchard
Nurse Bee


Joined: 28 Apr 2015
Posts: 30
Location: Abergavenny

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

biobee wrote:
Here's some evidence:

https://youtu.be/zyX00_BiKX4


Good job! Smile

I'll add that i'm going TBH (hold me back), but the choice for me was a matter of faith in you guys that it works in the long-term. The only beek's that i've met face-to-face advised me not to, and there's a fair amount of disparaging comments on the Web regarding suitability for a temperate maritime climate such as ours Smile
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Ernie Farmboy
Foraging Bee


Joined: 02 Sep 2009
Posts: 141
Location: USA, Olympia, Washington

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This business of wintering a Top Bar seems to be a major arguing point among non-top bar'ers. My concern is not so much trying to debate nonbelievers as needing to answer beginning Top Bar keepers questions on the matter. The comment, "Don't worry about it, just go for it, Top Bars winter just fine, people do it all the time." brings out that, "They're just lucky" type response. I have been researching this specific area in other places. Most of the books I have on Top Bar keeping touch on it just a bit. The two best books, I have, with some good specific wintering information are;
The Thinking Beekeeper, by Christy Hemenway and Top-Bar Hive Beekeeping: Wisdom & Pleasure Combined, by Wyatt A. Mangum. I am definitely open for any sources of Top Bar books, publications, or research papers with this specific information in them.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 6:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here you can see 2 of my colonies in North of Sweden where temps go down to -27'C and this particular winter of 2012/2013 was extremely long and cold and they survived.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tKkh3_Oq4c
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madasafish
Silver Bee


Joined: 29 Apr 2009
Posts: 880
Location: Stoke On Trent

PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2015 5:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bees do survive in TBHs in winter.

But they are weak in spring.

My practical experience is that conventional hives are MUCH MUCH easier. Mortality rates are lower and startup id much quicker.

The current design is totally unsuited to harsh winters and requires significant modifications to reduce heat loss...
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AugustC
Silver Bee


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

PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2015 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

madasafish wrote:
Bees do survive in TBHs in winter.

But they are weak in spring.

My practical experience is that conventional hives are MUCH MUCH easier. Mortality rates are lower and startup id much quicker.

The current design is totally unsuited to harsh winters and requires significant modifications to reduce heat loss...


Odd, the conventional beeks in my area who have tried TBHs have even said that the coloines over winter well and recover faster in spring. The only reason they say they stick to nationals in ease of equipment (since they already have it) and honey harvest.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2015 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My neighbor had 60% losses in conventional this winter. He had 150 hives on different locations. He treats once with Formic and once with lactic acid every year.

My friend in north of Sweden has 2 TBHs with 40mm thick walls and didn't have any losses in 7 years without treatments.

This is my 3rd winter. The first 2 no losses. This winter out of 10 colonies 4 losses due Nosema and 1 weak one was robbed a month ago which didn't make it. Out of 5 remaining 2 are extremely strong, 2 are moderately strong and 1 is under the Ant attack so they have issues now (I'm trapping the ants and killing them by hundreds every day).

It all depends on the bee genes. If they are adapted to cold and all other aspects they will make it in any hive it seems.
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Ernie Farmboy
Foraging Bee


Joined: 02 Sep 2009
Posts: 141
Location: USA, Olympia, Washington

PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2015 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

madasafish wrote:
Bees do survive in TBHs in winter.

The current design is totally unsuited to harsh winters and requires significant modifications to reduce heat loss...


Madasafish,
Now we're getting close to what I am looking for. I am looking for what those "significant modifications to reduce heat loss" are.
Thanks,
Ernie
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2015 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ernie,

instead of 25mm walls use 40-50mm planks instead and if living in a dry climate bottom entrance and if in a humid climate top entrance will help.
Place a Styrofoam under the roof.

Small number of bees in the spring does not mean they have been cold. Those bees either didnt have enough or any pollen stored for the winter to start raising early brood, or most of the bees had Varroa related virus, or too much pesticides in their food messing up their bodily fat reserves. On top of that if you see much bee feces in the hive Nosema is another reason.

My opinion of course.
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Ernie Farmboy
Foraging Bee


Joined: 02 Sep 2009
Posts: 141
Location: USA, Olympia, Washington

PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2015 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Che,
I have to agree with the insulation under the roof and in cold wet climate and at least one small secondary top entrance. Here's my theory- The top bar is a horizontal movement hive as opposed to vertical in other hives. In vertical hives the humid air from the cluster rises up, in top bars that same air has to move horizontally. The only way for that to happen is to keep the area above the cluster warm, (insulation under the roof), so that the humid air has to move away from the cluster out across the ceiling of the hive. As warm humid air is naturally draw toward cold air, a small top entrance would be the direction that air will flow towards. This whole process is very similar to winterizing vertical framed hives. In those hives, the keeper has a very small opening at the top of the hive that vents the humid air out of the hive. There is more that I would go into like making the top entrance, small, because I want the air moment to be a "gentle drifting" rather then a breeze.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2015 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dont get confused with the horizontal shape of the hive Smile the nest gets reduced in the Autumn and the follower board is placed behind the 7th-10th comb depending on colony strenght.

So the the shape of the vertical or horizontal in winter is the same/very similar. Its only during the summer that the vertical is truly vertical and horizontal truly horizontal Smile

There is no "breeze" with a top entrance nor bottom entrance. There is only draft if you use more than one entrance. If you are worried about the breeze place the entrance the "warm way" either top or bottom.

The issue with bottom entrance is dead bees clogging it if you dont clean it up and then they cant perform cleansing flights, never happens with top entrance.

Im sure you will find the right way for you Smile Best of luck
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1568
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2015 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What I would stress if you are arguing in favour of a top entrance is that it should not be combined with an open mesh floor in my opinion, as that will create a chimney effect. #
I am not a fan of open mesh floors and never have been, but I could be persuaded to the advantages of top entrance (in an horizontal TBH) and I suppose in reality I have this with my baffle board entrance.

I think the problem with TBH failure in very cold climates is exactly as has been suggested...that people don't adjust them to suit their climate. To me, the TBH is the "thinking" beekeepers hive. It takes knowledge and understanding of your bees and your climate and conditions to make them effective. A Langstroth is a Langstroth and because they have been used for 100 years, there is a tried and tested way to work them. There is so much more variability with TBHs that you need to be committed to figuring out what works for you and your bees. It's easy for those who have failures to blame the hive and walk away, rather than look at what went wrong and modify it so that it will work.
Unlike Madasafish, I don't think they are any weaker in spring (I have conventional and TB hives) or that conventional hives are much easier to over winter... I have a colony on top bars that has survived winter very successfully in an apple crate! And another that has happily survived 3 years in a TBH bait box with no insulation or roof, just a piece of heavy duty plastic and a brick on top.... it's not pretty, but it's effective at keeping the wet out and the bees thrive. I'm in the North East, so we do get winter weather but not usually below -10C, although it has on very rare occasions dropped below that.

To a large extent it comes down to what you consider a cold climate.... The UK is cold compared to Greece or Africa for instance but Scandanavia and Canada are cold compared to the UK. Not saying TBHs can't be effective in Canada, but just that perhaps you needed to be more specific about your requirements in asking this question.

Regards

Barbara
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Lacewing
Guard Bee


Joined: 08 Sep 2012
Posts: 96
Location: Powys, Mid Wales

PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2015 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It probably doesn't help TBH PR amongst other beekeepers in this country at any rate, that many may have hardly seen any TBHs in action but e.g. one well known beekeeping supplier shows a pic of their TBH in their catalogue with, instead of pitched or insulateable roofs, as on the other hives, a flat, plywood roof. I don't know how thick the timber is. - The weight of the whole (cedar) is given as 18kg, plywood: 21kg, for 880mm length hive. But how many actual TBH owners in the UK have hives which are like that? From what I've seen on this forum, people make much more solid and adaptable hives!
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ingo50
Scout Bee


Joined: 30 May 2014
Posts: 311
Location: Newport, Gwent, Wales, UK

PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2015 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with you Lacewing, having built my first TBH using cedar for the body and a solid pitched gable roof. The plywood one you describe ( by a famous UK company ) looks cheaply made and will rot easily. Not worth the money. Better to plan make your own or get a decent one made.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2015 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Im most certainly against open mesh floors Smile so yes top entrance without "chimney effects" please Smile Thanks for pointing this out Barbara Smile

Just to mention; top entrance may not be a good choice in dry and hot countries like Australia or California (South US) since bees need the condensated water during dry times, which bottom entrance provides. In my locality there are plenty of morning dew on vegetation and a few ponds so no need to think about that IMO
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2015 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the opposite reason to that being discussed here, top vents are good in hot areas as they let the really hot air out. On my hives I have both top vents and bottom entrances so the air can slowly move oup and out. My hives with this set up have not had any meldowns but some with only a bottom entrance have.

Personally I am fascinated by the "type of box" argument that some worry about. To the bees its just a box.

Cheers
Rob.
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madasafish
Silver Bee


Joined: 29 Apr 2009
Posts: 880
Location: Stoke On Trent

PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2015 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ernie Farmboy wrote:
madasafish wrote:
Bees do survive in TBHs in winter.

The current design is totally unsuited to harsh winters and requires significant modifications to reduce heat loss...


Madasafish,
Now we're getting close to what I am looking for. I am looking for what those "significant modifications to reduce heat loss" are.
Thanks,
Ernie


Right: here is what I have done:

Roof: hinged to ease removal. THIS IS ESSENTIAL for a larger hive - 4 feet wide..(unless you are a large weightlifter.
Insulated.
Sides of roof overhang walls to reduce water drips onto sides and to protect the top bars from darughts.
Inuslation on top of top bars..(means a deeper roof.

Sides:
Externl insulation glued to walls - I use 25mm. This keeps teh structure lighter. Thick wood sides = VERY heavy hive so moving is becomes a job for the WEIGHTLIFTERS - (again).
Commercial insulation board is far better insulation than wood.

Top of sides: built up so the edges end above the level of the topbars. This cust down heat loss, and avoids wasp entry through badly fitting top bars..

Sides themselves.I use planks as per the plan but add a strengthener (vertical) in the middle and at the edges . Makes assembly easier and stronger (I use pallet wood only except for topbars)

Floor
Extend depth below OMF about 5cms deep and ensure bottom board which is fitted is nearly - but not 100% - wind proof. Open floors are a disaster as are badly fitting bottom boards.

Legs: Vertcal.. 3 x2 innh. MUCH more stable and less likely to rot/break when moving the hive.

Entrances: bottom. At end or middle does not seem to matter..

I have had a TBH blow over in 80mph winds as the gusts came round the edge of a field - hence my comments on legs and movement.

I apply the same basic principles to TBH nucs - without the side vertical strengtheining and hinged roofs are not needed. I use insulation boards and produce an overhanging flat roof..

Mine have survived -18C for a week .. and LOTS of wind and rain. Our garden is open and exposed..edge of Peak District

BUT despite all this , lLngs build up much faster in spring. I try to avoid feeding . Except for nosema treatment.
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Ernie Farmboy
Foraging Bee


Joined: 02 Sep 2009
Posts: 141
Location: USA, Olympia, Washington

PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Madasafish,
Thank you for detailed response, I appreciate it.

Ernie
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AugustC
Silver Bee


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

PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

that sounds very similar to what I am running.
It gets very windy in my village. I find a pitched roof is a good idea as it acts as a spoiler to force the hive to the ground more. I would say with a hinged roof that it is useful to have a hook to keep it in place. I have only once in VERY VERY strong winds had a hive blow over (empty luckily) the hinged roof blew up and then acted as a sail for the hive. This was a 52inch hive with 1inch thick walls, 3"/2" legs and an ecofloor!... like I said VERY VERY windy.
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