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Clarity on the "Additional Maintenance Required"

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    beekeeping forum -> Horizontal top bar hives
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Adam B
House Bee


Joined: 24 Mar 2019
Posts: 16
Location: St Albans UK

PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 10:53 am    Post subject: Clarity on the "Additional Maintenance Required" Reply with quote

I read in many (most) forums and blogs that "Top Bar Hives Require More Constant Maintenance than Boxed hives" (Boxed being National, Langstroth, etc. depending upon location of the article.)

What is difficult is no one seems to say exactly what this additional maintenance IS or WHY it's needed.

Can anyone enlighten me on this?
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imago
Nurse Bee


Joined: 07 Dec 2010
Posts: 29
Location: Switzerland, Rhone valley

PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm curious to know where you read such things because I think it's the opposite.
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Adam B
House Bee


Joined: 24 Mar 2019
Posts: 16
Location: St Albans UK

PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I do research, I'll try to keep track of where I see this. I feel it's "very often" when looking at sites which talk about hive design. I did a quick search for "Top Bar vs..." and inserted a box style (Lang, Nat), and I got a bunch.
Just peruse the "Cons" section.

Here are some examples:

https://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/langstroth-top-bar-or-warre-zbcz1310

https://mistressbeek.com/2010/09/19/top-bar-hive-vs-langstroth/

https://www.beeculture.com/experiences-top-bar-hive/

https://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/the-difference-between-top-bar-vs-warre-vs-langstroth-hives-zbcz1608

http://www.talkingwithbees.com/beekeeping/beehives/top-bar-hives

Now there are some other great tidbits (that I don't really believe) which I found along the way:
Bees are often crushed between top-bars as the beekeeper rearranges the bars after removing them from the hive body. This problem can be serious when colonies are manipulated at night. When bees are crushed in this way, it is difficult to fix the last top-bar into place. Crushing bees is usually not a serious problem with frame hives.

A top-bar hive is relatively easy to steal, as it is light and compactly designed. It is more difficult to steal hives and supers arranged one above the other.
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wa1ter
New Bee


Joined: 10 May 2018
Posts: 3
Location: Croatia

PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Adam B wrote:

Bees are often crushed between top-bars as the beekeeper rearranges the bars after removing them from the hive body. This problem can be serious when colonies are manipulated at night. When bees are crushed in this way, it is difficult to fix the last top-bar into place. Crushing bees is usually not a serious problem with frame hives.

A top-bar hive is relatively easy to steal, as it is light and compactly designed. It is more difficult to steal hives and supers arranged one above the other.


I didn't read all the links as I unfortunately don't have time for that right now. But, crushing bees when handling top bars doesn't happen more than when handling frames so it really shouldn't happen at all. Also, you don't have to remove and put back supers which is where a lot of the crushing actually happens.

As for the top bar hive being easy to steal because they're light and compact... I guess most people haven't moved, or even seen, the average horizontal top bar hive yet Very Happy. Is it easier to steal warre boxes because they are lighter? I guess but I doubt it's easier to steal 3 or 4 warre boxes than it is to steal a langstroght with supers.
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wa1ter
New Bee


Joined: 10 May 2018
Posts: 3
Location: Croatia

PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Forgot to say, as for the extra maintenance part... during expansion of the brood nest you'll have to pay a bit more attention to make sure your bees don't run out of space. Same during a heavy flow. But that's the only extra maintenance I can think of. And it's as easy as checking if they have enough space and if not, inserting a bar in the right place. If that's the extra maintenance they are talking about, I think I can live with that Smile

Oh, and if you use warrés, according to Warré's principles, instead of horizontal hives you have a lot less maintenance than in most other hives.
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imago
Nurse Bee


Joined: 07 Dec 2010
Posts: 29
Location: Switzerland, Rhone valley

PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2019 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've read through the linked pages. There are some interesting views but they never really get into the details of this extra maintenance.

I've two half dadant hives (originally bought to host dadant frames for futher transfers but they re-queened over the years) and they require more maintenance than my TBHs.

One must also note that there are differences between colonies : some build straight combs and do not fix them against the walls, some are weird, so it's difficult to generalise over a small sample size.

Anyway, it is true that modern hives were built with the idea of honey production, easy maintenance and easy move. I switched to TBH because I'm an hobbyist, I don't like to open a frame hive with a lot of smoke, I don't have to invest and store honey extraction material, I don't want to buy frames and waxes, I don't want to break my back. With the KTBH, hive inspection is a pleasure, does not require smoke and most of the time I even don't need to inspect it fully.

BTW it is true that it can be difficult to insert the last bar, in my recent hives I've added an extra 5 mm length to cope with bar expansion due to humidity or crushed bees.
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