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Length and height of TB and artificial swarming

 
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Michael Dreyer
House Bee


Joined: 21 Aug 2014
Posts: 13
Location: Bremen, Germany

PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2014 3:41 pm    Post subject: Length and height of TB and artificial swarming Reply with quote

in preparing hands-on winter work in building TBH (and artificial swarming) I like to hear your sound rating on length and height of TB.
Phil suggsts 15 inches inside TB length (38 cm) and about 28 cm height of comb. Others use longer or shorter versions.
Comparing to frames I found Langstroth 44/23cm, Kuntsch 25/33cm, Swiss box 28/35cm, Gerstung 26/41cm, German trog hive 28/45.

What will happen if I use TB that are shorter in length like 25 or 28 cm but a greater space for height of comb like 40 - 45 cm? What are the consequences?

Concerning artificial swarmimg, Phil's idee is when swarming is about to happen you simply create a separate space with a followers to keep to hives in one TBH, put the quen there, then turn the TBH 180 degrees, and all the foragers fly back finding there queen but all the "furnitures" being moved. Then they start anew. The rest of the bees will raise a new queen and continue. My question is usually a swarm contains bees of different age groups and activities whereas in Phil's idee it's only the foragers coming together in the artificial swarm. How do you feel about that?
Have a nice day
Michael
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1573
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2014 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi

As regards hive dimensions, what you have to be aware of is that comb attached to top bars is more fragile than those supported by a frame. Comb when full of brood and particularly honey is very heavy. If you shorten the length of the bar but allow the comb to be built deeper, there is more weight hanging off less surface attachment to the bar, which can lead to comb collapse. The angle of the sides is also important as that has been found to be the optimum to discourage brace comb to the sides.

As regards your query about splitting the colony and swarming, I personally prefer to let them swarm and catch them whenever possible as this produces a balanced unit specially selected to set up a new home. Of course you will get a mixture of younger and older flying bees using the split method suggested and they will adapt to the change in work requirements caused by the split, but for me nothing beats a swarm. Unfortunately many people need to consider the sensitivities of their neighbours and allowing swarms to issue freely at a time of year when many people want to enjoy their gardens, can lead to friction, so taking pre-emptive action and making a split is perhaps advantageous especially as it also reduces your chances of losing half your bees.

Regards

Barbara
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catchercradle
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1492
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2014 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I too am a fan of swarms.

When it comes to geometry of HTBH If you are going to increase the height of the comb relative to the length of the top bars you can put a dowel in the centre of each top bar to give the comb a bit more strength.
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Laurieston
House Bee


Joined: 12 Apr 2013
Posts: 16
Location: Northern Germany

PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2014 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If (or when seeing how addictive beekeepingis!) I build another TBH I will consider making the top width the same width as a traditional hive from which I would probably get new bees. This would mean that I don't need to do chop and cut, but rather more just a hang, with maybe some cutting comb to fit the angles.

However, mine is built to Phil's dimensions and I have zero problems with combs being attached to the sides. The angles work very well.

One idea might be to build a frame from the topbar in the shape of the hive box itself, which would allow completed comb to be fully supported. This would prevent, or at least reduce the risk/problem of comb being attached to the walls and comb collapse. Might need a mathematician to work out the angles and a carpenter to cut them though.!
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1125
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2014 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laurieston wrote:
....One idea might be to build a frame from the topbar in the shape of the hive box itself, which would allow completed comb to be fully supported.....

But so much easier to check for attachments and cut them with bread knife! One of the joys of TBH is the simplicity!
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Lacewing
Guard Bee


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

PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"One idea might be to build a frame from the topbar in the shape of the hive box itself, which would allow completed comb to be fully supported."

- Am definitely aiming to make two or three like this this winter, but for a different reason. - Removing a feral colony from a neighbour's roof late this summer with another beekeeper, I watched him lay the brood comb which was cut out, inside empty frames for one of his Nationals, and support it/hold it in place with a lattice of rubber bands. Very neat. I would have had a job trying to move them to my hTBHs! (He's seen rubber band being ejected from the hive later on.)
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1573
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know frames seem like a great idea but it's really difficult to precision build them so that bee space is maintained all around. If there is too much or too little space the bees will either propolise or build brace comb from them onto the hive walls. This can make them very difficult to remove..... more so than unsupported comb in a Kenyan hive. I think people who are only experienced with TBHs don't always appreciate how important maintaining bee space is when it comes to frames. The bees do it naturally in an unsupported top bar hive. In a conventional framed hive it is difficult enough to lift frames that have just the lugs propolised, but if the sides were also glued, I would not want to routinely attempt it.

I appreciate that frames do make doing a cut out much easier and in that scenario it is often helpful to have a framed hive to put them into but there are TB options like making a cage from chicken wire or a sling using masking tape.

Anyway, I just wanted to throw that into the mix for your consideration before you spend time making lots of frames. Of course you may have the skills and equipment to make precision frames, but then can you be sure your TBH is completely uniform over the whole length.... no warping etc as that can make a significant difference and over the length of a TBH and is much more likely than a conventional square box hive.

Regards

Barbara
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1125
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lacewing wrote:
- Am definitely aiming to make two or three like this this winter, but for a different reason. - Removing a feral colony from a neighbour's roof late this summer with another beekeeper, I watched him lay the brood comb which was cut out, inside empty frames for one of his Nationals, and support it/hold it in place with a lattice of rubber bands. Very neat. I would have had a job trying to move them to my hTBHs! (He's seen rubber band being ejected from the hive later on.)

Or for simplicity again, you could try the top-bar shown half-way down this page -
http://www.thegardenacademy.com/BK_-_Rescue_Frames.html
I've used them with great success.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjfMXYUcATY&feature=youtu.be
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Lacewing
Guard Bee


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

PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many thanks Trekmate! The Rescue Bar it is then. It looks just the thing ... with embedded wires, and without disadvantages of a frame.
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Michael Dreyer
House Bee


Joined: 21 Aug 2014
Posts: 13
Location: Bremen, Germany

PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:03 am    Post subject: different dimesnions Reply with quote

Hello Barbara, hello everybody,

2 days ago we had about 14 degrees C. in Bremen and during inspections after a heavy storm a few bees greeted me at the entrance hole. How sweet.

Coming back to Barbara's contribution on the forum, quote: If you shorten the length of the bar but allow the comb to be built deeper, there is more weight hanging off less surface attachment to the bar, which can lead to comb collapse.unquote.

I like to hear your rating on the point that is puzzling me. I have found nice building plans on the internet and in books but those plans all differ in dimensions. Taking into account what you wrote about the length of a top bar still the question comes up what are the pros and cons of 15", 18" or 20" top bars. Furthermore the deepth differs as well like from 10", 12", 13".
Is it right to say the longer the top bar i.e. 18" or 20" the better for the attachment?
Love to hear from you.
Regards
Michael
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1573
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi again Michael

From my experience, the problem with longer bars is that the bees want to curve the comb at the ends and it starts to overlap onto the adjacent bars. It's almost like there is a limit to the length bees can build comb in a straight line, even with good comb guides. Curving the comb gives it more strength of course but it may also have to do with how the bees chain to build comb. Maybe there is an optimum straight line bee chain length and then after that they fill in the space by building onto the edge of the comb but without any horizontal forces to maintain the direction. Or more likely it is to do with keeping the brood nest compact so that the extra length is used to store honey which requires thicker comb and that's why it curves onto the adjoining bar.
I found with my 21 inch bars that the brood nest was located from one end of the bars to just past the centre and honey stored at the other end, so that instead of the first 10 or so bars having more or less solid brood on them and then honey stored on the bars behind, the brood nest on this hive with long bars extended over 15 or so bars but only covered two thirds of each bar with honey comb making up the other third but all along one side and all overlapping/cross combing onto the next bar. The brood nest was basically more sausage shaped and extended over more bars along one wall.

Hope I described that well enough for you to understand it.

Anyway, the overlapping/cross combing ends caused problems, so I would personally advise against going for longer bars for this reason. There was a good 3-4 inches of comb on every bar that needed correcting, which suggests to me that 17 inch bars are about the optimum length.

Regards

Barbara
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Adam Rose
Silver Bee


Joined: 09 Oct 2011
Posts: 583
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the UK, there is also the pragmatic reason that 17 inches is the size of national frames. So if you ever want to transfer frames or bars in either direction ( using crop and chop, for example ), it makes it easier if the widths are the same.
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Michael Dreyer
House Bee


Joined: 21 Aug 2014
Posts: 13
Location: Bremen, Germany

PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Barbara,
excellent observations and conclusions. Thanks a lot for sharing your experience and clear descriptions on the consequences of prolonged top bars and thanks to Adam for bringing in the practical correlation to the British national standard. Would you mind if I come in with the reflection on the bottom length of top bars if we do not expand over 17 inches (do you mean the total length or the inside length between the sides of the top bar hive ?) according to your proposal. The bottom length ranges from 5 - 9 inches in the dimension plans which brings in the deepth of the comb as well. I am excited to hear your assessment.
Regards
Michael
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Adam Rose
Silver Bee


Joined: 09 Oct 2011
Posts: 583
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 10:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would say that the length of the bottom edge is a dependent variable. The variables you choose are the slope of the sides and the height of the comb ( probably in that order ). Then the length of the bottom edge is determined by those choices.

Phil should speak for himself, but his 60 degree angle is partly to make it less likely that the combs get attached to the sides, and also for reasons relating to the circulation of energy and water in the hives.

I know that Michael Bush recommends an angle much closer to a right angle. He argues that bees attach comb to the sides whatever angle you choose. I think I saw someone somewhere argue in favour of 45 degrees.

There is also an argument that if there are top bar hive people near you, you should do the same as them so that you can swap nucs, brood comb, etc. Having said that, I can't even manage to build the same dimensions twice for myself, so I can't easily transfer bars from a nuc I built myself to a TBH I built myself !
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1125
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Adam Rose wrote:
........ I can't even manage to build the same dimensions twice for myself, so I can't easily transfer bars from a nuc I built myself to a TBH I built myself !

The secret is to keep one follower that you use as a pattern to make others and use two followers to create the hive body shape by strapping the hive sides (or nuc sides) to two followers while you attach the ends to the sides (have a look at Phil's plans for pictures, I use hive straps to keep the sides tight onto the followers).

Adam, you'll see what I mean if you come to the hive building event coming soon for the Lancs group.
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Lacewing
Guard Bee


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

PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Adam I'm just cheered to hear that there is anyway someone else out there who doesn't achieve the impeccable results that others seem to manage - to judge from their photos!! I do do what Trekmate recommends - which certainly makes life easier - but still things are not exactly a glossy smooth fit in my hives! I could blame warping, but I'm afraid it's just the carpenter...
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AugustC
Silver Bee


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

PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Making the comb deeper does indeed increase the risk of comb breakage. I (personally) do not think putting them in frames is the answer, like many have said, it makes things a lot more complicated to make, is more likely to be stuck together by bees, and as Warré observes frames increase the uninsulated (or poorly insulated) space in the hive.
When you think about the size and dimensions of the comb I would encourage you to consider heat. Heat creation and retention is very important to the colony. Before deciding on Phil’s hive design, in my research on hive dimensions I found many variations on a theme. Every one of them had people claiming they were the best. I did note however that the longer topbars and a shallower hive seemed to be the favourite in hot climates. Shorter topbars with deeper combs appeared more in colder climates. This makes sense for comb attachment but also for heat retention and winter clustering. Find a topbar user near you who has found something that works and start there. Tinker later when you have a fall back so the bees don't suffer from your... inventiveness Smile
Swarming wise, an artificial swarm is just that, artificial. In my opinion swarming is not a process that can be fully replicated artificially and is a necessity for the colony. However, I recognise that artificial swarms are often the lesser of two evils. You can increase the younger bee numbers in the artificial swarm by shaking in some bees from a brood comb if you want. Just take care you leave enough in the queenless side. Remember the older bees with the queen, have a laying queen so will see new worker within 21 days of her having comb to lay in. The queenless side have young bees for a while but if a capped queen cell is present it might be 20 days+ before you get eggs. So they have a period upwards of 40 days with no new bees being born so they neeeeed the young ones.
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