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First timer!

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

Joined: 11 Jun 2019
Posts: 3
Location: France

PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2019 10:15 am    Post subject: First timer! Reply with quote

Hello. A follow up post from my introduction post. I mentioned I have made a tbh and collected a colony to put in it. Seemimgly all went well with the collection. I wasn't able to locate the queen when taking the bees but I believe that she must be present as I managed to get the vast majority of the colony. The colony now rests outside my workshop and I watch the bees flying every day. I was told that if the bees are bringing in pollen then all is well. The bees started bringing in pollen about a week after installing them. Now however, after about three weeks there is no pollen being collected. I had a sneaky peek last week and I believe I have given them too much room as the comb is not being built on the top bars (wax groove) but on the walls of the hive. I will leave well well alone and keep watching for pollen. Any thoughts on the status of the queen?. It will be difficult to inspect the comb for the queen and eggs until it is attached to the bars. Learning all the way!!.
Any thoughts ?
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Site Admin

Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1822
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2019 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi again.

Sadly waxed grooves are not the most reliable form of comb guide and most people use a triangular profile wood guide, rubbed with bees wax under the bars. Even then it is not infallible and keeping the cluster in a small volume where the length of the bars is longer than the number of bars available to them, helps to encourage them to form comb along the bars. If they are building on one wall, it usually suggests that they are a cast swarm with a virgin queen and that ties in with the timescale of pollen forage occurring after a week or so. The lack of pollen now may be due to the time of day you are observing them, the weather or that they have filled all the existing comb with brood and have no more space to store it or use it until the current brood which should now be pupating (and therefore not require pollen|) hatches and new brood is laid into the vacated cells. I sometimes find that they will forage for pollen in the morning when it is cooler and nectar in the afternoon when the temperatures are higher and nectar more freely available, but if your climate is hotter, they may forage for nectar in the morning when dew provides moisture for the plants and pollen later when it gets hot and dry and the nectar supply dries up a bit.

You might want to research "rescue bars" which are top bars with chicken wire attached to them. The chicken wire is formed so that the spikes of the cut edges are bent through 90 degrees to be horizontal below the top bars and the comb that is cut off is then gently impaled onto the spikes to suspend it below the top bar and the bees will eventually build comb to secure it to the underside of the top bar. I would not attempt this until the comb has had several generations of brood in it as the cocoons of that brood help to stabilise it and without that, it is very easily squashed and broken by handling, especially when it is heavy with brood and nectar. Probably best to leave it until next spring to do the job, but limit the space they have now to prevent them expanding it too far in the wrong direction.
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New Bee

Joined: 11 Jun 2019
Posts: 3
Location: France

PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the advice, I will reduce their living area a bit and leave well alone as they seem to know what they are doing. I wish I had put in an observation window so I could monitor more frequently without disturbing them. I will have another peak on Sunday to reduce area and swap any unused bars for triangular type. After that it is down to them I think!.
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Guard Bee

Joined: 10 Nov 2015
Posts: 82
Location: Quarry Bank, West Midlands, UK

PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

These are the type of rescue bars Barbara is talking about but before the comb is in place and the mesh ends bent and then gently squeezed closer to grasp the comb.
The bees will quickly do their own repairs to attach to the top bar permanently.


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