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Top bar modification

 
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rakeman
House Bee


Joined: 28 Jun 2015
Posts: 19
Location: East Harling, Norwich, Norfolk, U.K.

PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2015 9:00 pm    Post subject: Top bar modification Reply with quote

I've been thinking about making another TBH but modifying the top bars. Normally, 34-38mm wide, I intend using off-the-shelf 2"x1" (45mm x 20mm) and bevel the edges so that the top edges of the bars meet and close tight but the lower edges don't meet, leaving a total gap between two meeting bars on the underside of about 6-8mm. The bevel doesn't have to go the full thickness of the wood so the meeting edges could be substantial.

My reasoning for this is to (hopefully) encourage the bees to build their combs on the face and not to run into the gap, thus helping to prevent the sticking together of combs that occurred in the TBH this year. It might also help prevent injury to bees when closing up the bars after a hive inspection. It wouldn't eradicate this risk entirely of course.

I have also considered the possibility of reducing the insulation factor in colder weather but some 'under the roof' insulation could be added in the winter. Also, it increases the rid of damage to the more fragile edge when separating the bars with a blade.

I imagine this isn't the first time this idea has been tried but feedback would be appreciated. Many thanks in advance. David.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1582
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2015 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If it is a small gap, they will fill it with propolis. If it is larger then they may fill it with brace comb. Either way, it will not prevent many of the benefits you hope for and may cause other problems... crevices for wax moth to inhabit. I also think 2" centres to the brood combs is too wide and may risk brood chill.

Having good comb guides is the key to keeping combs straight and online, but it is not unusual for combs to curve/overlap slightly and get thicker at the ends even then, particularly as they start to store honey. Many of us insert thin (1/4-1/2 inch) strips of wood (shims) to pack out the bars in the honey storage area to overcome this overlapping problem or just use wider bars there.

If you are having a significant problem with this then perhaps your comb guides are not the best for your bees and it might be worth trying something else or perhaps they don't extend far enough to the end of the bars.
Slight correction of overlap/curvature at the end of the bars is best done in early spring, when the comb is more rigid and there is less weight hanging from it and less bees to get in the way.
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rays
House Bee


Joined: 09 Jul 2012
Posts: 24
Location: Vaud, Switzerland

PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2015 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I, too, had a notion about designing top bar variants this year. I constructed them by placing a lower 10 mm deep secondary bar at an 8 mm bee-space below the "traditional top-bar" with width of bar such that a bee-space also separates each of these lower bars side-by-side from each other.

Based on reading somewhere about how bees, faced with a bee-space, will not fill it with brace comb (similar to Barbara's comment here) but "choose" to leave it open, I figured these girls on arriving to this fresh, new hive from their Dadant background would promptly understand the new requirement and build according to "our" expectations. I also thought that the air-gap between the top-bar might help regulate the internal temperature (we've experienced day temperatures of 33°C this summer) and perhaps provide easier passage horizontally for the cluster in the winter.

What do we know?! No prizes for predicting the actual result in the "field trial".

Yes, the fresh comb which has been constructed in a very short time and almost perfectly diagonally at 45° across six such modified top bars is too soft to consider cutting now and it is too late in the season here, in my view, to consider removing all this comb en-masse, so I'm expecting to be having "creative fun" sorting this out in the Spring. My priority is to get these recent arrivals as a "packet-equivalent" complete with their laying queen through this winter and then we will face their future together thereafter.

For those who may not be aware, the top and base board of a wooden wine box is a bee friendly 8 mm (bee-space) thick while the sides are constructed using 10 mm wood. Hence the inspiration. So the secondary bars are cut from the sides with the spacers cut from the base. I believe the wine boxes are built economically from untreated wood, given their purpose.

Just my tuppence-worth! I don't have enough experience to dare to offer advice...
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rakeman
House Bee


Joined: 28 Jun 2015
Posts: 19
Location: East Harling, Norwich, Norfolk, U.K.

PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2015 9:14 pm    Post subject: Top bars Reply with quote

Interesting comments and taken on board. Thank you. I'll stick with narrower bars without the bevel. I've made a narrow, shallow groove for wax on the underside. Hopefully, next year a new colony will 'follow the old straight track', but this is the interesting and fascinating thing with the TBH. Bees seem to build comb on their own natural way. I look forward to spring and attempting to solve some but, I accept, not all of these little problems.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1582
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2015 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most of us have found that a wax filled saw cut is not sufficient of a guide and whilst it works sometimes, more reliable designs are now being used. The main theme being to give them an edge or tongue to work from. Many people use triangular profile timber sectioned pinned to the underside of their bars and rubbed with wax. I have had success with bamboo barbeque skewers dipped in molten wax and then held onto the top bars until it sets and sticks, cotton string, dipped in molten wax and then held onto the bars. I know many people are averse to foundation on this forum but a 1" strip of that held into the groove of top bars that have been heated in the oven for 15 mins works very well. By the time it has melted and set you get a strip of about half an inch protruding. I've also used the tongue off recycled tongue and groove boards, tacked on with gimp pins and painted with wax along the edge.

My advice to you would be to try one of the above options in preference to the comb guides you are currently using. I think you will find a big improvement.

Good luck with that next year.
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