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Top Bar Hive Entrance in the Center or on the Side?

 
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dand1231
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Joined: 19 Dec 2009
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Location: USA, UTAH

PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 9:49 am    Post subject: Top Bar Hive Entrance in the Center or on the Side? Reply with quote

There are two different designs that people seem to like. The entrance is in the center of the hive or on one end of the hive. I think that having it off to one side the bees will build their broodnest at one end of the hive with honey stores extending in one direction. During winter the bees would have to move only one direction. Why would want to put them in the middle of the long side of a TBH? Does it allow for a larger broodnest? It seems like the bees would have to choose one way and may not be able to back track to the other side in the cold. What does everyone think?
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biobee
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:04 am    Post subject: follower boards Reply with quote

You need to understand that the side entrances are used with two follower boards, as follows (see The Barefoot Beekeeper for full instructions).

Initially, the followers are placed either side of an introduced swarm or nucleus, with entrance holes also placed centrally, so the colony is held within the central third of the hive body. This means that they have a manageable volume within which to build their first combs, and I have found that this greatly increases the likelihood of these combs being built to follow the starter strips.

As comb building progresses, ONLY ONE follower is moved, two or three bars ahead of where the bees are building, so as to allow them to expand their colony unhindered. The space on the empty side of the non-moving follower is for use in making splits for increase or swarm prevention, if required.

The colony continues its expansion in one direction, initially placing stores above the brood, and the excess in combs beyond the brood area. As the colony contracts at the end of the season, the cluster forms close to the stored honey, and during the winter, they eat their way through their stores, comb by comb, moving away from the entrance. At no time is there any need to 'shuffle' combs. (Exceptionally, they may leave a comb of honey between the brood nest and the non-moving follower, which can be re-positioned at the far end if it is felt necessary.)

If - as is usually the case - there are empty combs either end of the colony as it approaches winter, they can be removed for melting (or stored for replacement in the same colony in the spring, if required). This enables the beekeeper easily to reduce the volume of the hive in winter, so the bees can more easily retain their heat.

Another major advantage of movable followers is that they enable the beekeeper to do a quick inspection of both ends of the colony at any time, with virtually no disturbance to the bees. You can check both stores and brood nest in a matter of seconds, without moving a single top bar, simply by sliding a follower away. Most times I do this, the bees barely notice. If I need to look a little deeper into the brood nest, for example, if I need to check for eggs or brood, then I can do so by moving only one or two top bars.

If you hold the colony against one end of the hive with a single follower - or use no followers at all - you cannot ever inspect the brood nest without moving nearly every bar in the hive!

As I said, the empty space beyond the non-moving follower can be used for making splits and for swarm control, as I provide it with another entrance on the opposite side of the hive to the main entrance.
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Gareth
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Phil's very clear description shows that the bees need only move one way if you follow his method exactly. There has been a great deal of confusion about this and some, wrongly it seems to me, condemn it outright.

That said, I have entrances at each end of the long side of the hive. Then splits etc go at the other end of the hive with the entrance pointing in the same direction as the original one, rather than being on the opposite side of the hive. The broodnest is at the end of the hive and the bees only move in one direction in winter - away from the entrance. If concerned about Phil's point of having to move many bars to get at the broodnest, simply put a follower board, or dummy comb, up against the hive end next to the entrance. In fact, as Phil says, this comb is often used for storing pollen and honey and, as long as it is not jammed tightly can usually be lifted out without any disturbance.

One thing that this arrangement allows is that the bees can expand to fill the whole hive without any change in the layout of the combs; they just keep going away from the entrance until they reach the other end of the hive. With the central entrance this would be more tricky.

I would not abandon follower boards, as advocated by a few, as the volume of the empty hive is too large for the bees to be able to regulate in terms of temperature, humidity and hive atmosphere. It is, of course, different when the hive is completely full of drawn combs.

So many choices!
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MikeA
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think this merits a sticky, both points of view are well presented and should keep those who are sitting on the fence sat there for awhile longer Laughing
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mannanin
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree that both of these posts help clarify a subject area that is often confused and often debated. (end entrance, side entrance, end side entrance etc. etc.) I personally like Phils thinking of giving the bees the option to extend either left or right of the centre. Two follower boards are, I think, not only of benefit to us but equally to the bees. Having said all that ....... my latest model has 8 optional entrance holes (only on the long sides, not in the ends). If not in use, bung them with a wine bottle cork. This leaves entrance options free for us to choose having of course, in Phils immortal words, taken guidance from the bees.
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bigbearomaha
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am using a method that sort of uses ideas from both camps.

I am using a 4 hole vertical entrance on the sloped side near one end of the hive.

I start with drilling 4 holes, the top most being 3/8" at the top of the board, about an inch from the upper edge and 2 inches from the end board.

next down is a 1/2" hole then a 3/4" inch hole and lastly, a 1 inch hole. these holes are spaced out so the 3/8" is at the top and the 1 inch hole is about an inch from the bottom.

I like this setup because the hole being on the sloped side gets the benefit of being protected from the weather.

Being very near an end allows the bees to build out in one direction toward the other end of the hive. with the use of a follower board, you can simply move the follower back to the other end as the colony expands. That's perhaps the biggest convenience of a follower board. It gives the beekeeper easy access to view or manipulate combs.

Having a 3/8" hole at the top allows for ventilation and allowing condensation to escape in winter.

each of the holes can be covered or uncovered as the season or circumstances dictate. if the colony is small and needs limited, easy to defend entrance, leave only the 3/8" hole open gives them exactly that.

when it is cold, as the bees move to new stores combs, they will warm only that space confined within the cluster regardless of surrounding space. In a tree colony, there are no follower boards at all and they are able to warm themselves and the area of comb they are on just fine.

follower boards, in my thinking, are a convenience for the beekeeper, bees have no actual 'need' for them.

I am a conservation beekeeper, not a primary honey producer, so I obviously see honey production differently and not what the tbh is really best intended for. I personally beleive that the important thing in tbh's is leaving enough stores for the bees to winter on.

If I take a rough average of 5 lbs per stores comb in honey and my bees need at least 70 lbs of honey to winter successfully, that is at least 14 bars of honey I need to leave them. this means I need at least 14 to 21 inches of space in my tbh just for honey stores ( 21 inches if I have 14 bars at 1.5 inches wide each)

If one has at least that same amount of space for brood comb, say using 1.25" bars, that's at about 18 inches for 1.25" bars giving us a minimum hive length of 39 inches. Roughly just over a 3 foot long tbh. only 9 inches shy of a 4 foot long hive which I see as a very common length and roughly the same volume as three deeps.

As I mentioned, I am not really into the honey production as a primary concern, I am personally not into trying to fit honey supers above horizontal hives. To me, that is contrary to the purpose of a horizontal hive. (Yes, I believe if wants wants to be a honey producer as a main goal, one should use lang hives, that is what those type of hives were made for, collecting honey.)

To me, just through regular management of a tbh, one will obtain some amount of honey until about July or so, then leave everything after that for the bees, unless they fill so many they run out of space and get honeybound.

of course, all of this is just my own two cent, but that's how I am doing it.

Big Bear
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bigbearomaha
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wasn't being literal. It was a figurative statement. in some areas with cold winters, needing 60 to 80 lbs of stores isn't out of the question.

Big Bear
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Norm
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, the amount of stores required by colonies is dependant on the length of the dormant period. Not only cold either! My bees in Sweden need more stores than a colony in UK because of the longer and colder winter. My bees in Spain need enough to last them through the long hot summer from June through September when everything dries to a frazzle and hence nothing to forage. It is a mistake to think that beekeeping is the same the world over. Knowing about your locality is key.
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Gareth
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bump
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bigbearomaha
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An update after playing with ktbh's and ttbh's more this year.

for me, in my area, I am finding these items to be most successful here.

Instead of starting a new swarm with 10 bars with guides, I have slimmed it down to 5 bars to start off with and have far more success with bees building straight, not crossed, comb.

I am also moving away from ktbh's in favor of a Warre dimensioned ttbh instead. for my purposes, it is quite more productive to start multiple swarms in the ttbh on top bars that fit into the warre boxes, then transfer them into a full Warre hive once they draw out 7 of 8 top bars.

This way, I am not scrambling to have may boxes available and ready seeing as I can start at least 3 Warre sized 'nucs' in one ttbh made to those dims.
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John
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 8:26 pm    Post subject: TBH Entrance Reply with quote

I like Phil's analysis of this problem, its very easy, with a long top bar hive,to give the bees too much room They are overwhelmed. Two follower boards solve this problem, room can be given as required.

As a personal observation, (the reason for my post), I built a long hive in 2009 with grand spacious openings at each end of the hive (an extra end for the two queen management system which never worked), and left a small gap between the floor board and the side of the hive; due to my inadequate woodworking skills!! (which is why the 2 queen system never worked - insufficient isolation.)

Well! The BBKA forum were not impressed, and neither were the bees, who refused to use the luxury entrances provided at each end of the hive. They much preferred the gap left by my lack of manual skills. I listen to the bees, they prefer a side entrance, preferrably something rather less than 25% of the height usually provided by modern hive designs.

Good Beekeeping All
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Che Guebuddha
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi all.

I see most of the posts are old and I wonder if you have some updates on this. I am starting today to make drawings for the hTBH Im to build tomorrow.

I thought to go with the centre holes as suggested by Phil but then I see Phil's video about the Anti-varroa entrance on youtube where he placed the wholes on one side of the long side.

I will do the anti varroa entrance but not sure as if this is a good option for the centre entrance. I was thinking to myself a bit ... if the entrance is facing South and I decide to have wholes on the side of the long side, which way do bees prefer to move/expand? Towards West or East? Which side is warmer? I guess the East side is warmer no? That is where the sun comes up first and has longer time to warm the hive, so bees move towards that part?? Or? So do I drill on the left or right side of the long sides?

Drilling wholes on the sides of the long side so they match each other when rotating the hive for the artifical swarming would be of great benefit dont you think?

Regards, Dusko
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mannanin
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2012 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dusko,

I think you will find that if you have entrances in the centre, the bees could choose to move either east or west in yor example. There is no specific preference. If you have entrances at one end of the long sides, they have room to move in just one direction. This is not a problem as they will expand into whatever space is provided. I now drill 6 entrance holes on each long side to match. ( 2 at the left, 2 at the right and 2 in the centre). Thats a total of twelve holes which gives me all options and as you say, helps with hive rotation. My entrance holes are 25 mm (1 inch) diameter and those that are not in use are closed off with wine bottle corks.
Hope this helps.
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jarekab
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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The anti-varroa entrance suggested by Phil is an experiment. KTBH in its basic form is a good hive. However; many beekepers adjust hives to their needs as they like experiments.
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jefdby
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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 3:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was reading this post, and I am curious, what is the reason for needing to "get at the brood area".?
Aren't we to leave them alone as much as possible?
hOw often would Ineed to do that?

I'm working on my hive, and still deciding exactly about the entrances...Smile
It does appeal to me to be able to start from either end....but then I wonder if I should just leave them alone to live.

Thanks for your thoughts!!
jennifer
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biobee
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You may need to check the brood area:

1. when the bee inspector calls, he/she will want to look at brood, as that is where brood diseases (if any) will be found

2. when you want to check to see if a queen is present and laying

3. when making splits, if you do that

4. when checking to see if they are planning to swarm

5. when checking for drone laying
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FollowMeChaps
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jefdby wrote:
...but then I wonder if I should just leave them alone to live.

Well said Jennifer. Yes of course you can just leave them alone and, in my opinion, you should. I am personally not a fan of the horizontal hive as most folk constantly open them to either straighten crossed comb or to do all the things that biobees mentions above. However, you CAN use them as a low interference hive.

In a horizontal hive this is best done by using an end entrance (either the end or the end of the side) and giving them the whole hive right from the start - no follower boards. They will start building by the entrance and build away from it.

The advantage here is that you'll know, within reason, that the brood is by the entrance and, once filled with comb, the further reaches of the hive will be just honey stores. If you align the hive East/West length wise they should build straight comb when they start; this will assist the bee inspector if you are unlucky enough to get a visit. The further away from the end, the more likely they are to cross the comb over the bars but this doesn't matter in a leave alone hive.

If you wish to harvest honey then just cut between two bars about 4 or 5 bars from the honey end and harvest in August.
Yes, this will cut across the combs if they have cross-combed but if you are harvesting it that doesn't matter. They will repair the damage.

I hope this helps. Smile

Robin
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jumbleoak
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FollowMeChaps wrote:
[If you align the hive East/West length wise they should build straight comb


How does this orientation help them build straight comb?
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newwoman
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Because bees quite often build combs North/South
Pat


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Bugscouter
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jennifer,

Just me thinking.

Some of us have learned that bees don't always start at the entrance. Some start at the back. So a couple of thoughts.

You could put a follower board (or cardboard, etc) about eight to ten bars from the entrance to encourage the girls to build on the comb and to build up front. Then, once they've started building, remove the follower and let them have the whole hive.

Or,

Let them build where they want and mark those bars so you know where the brood should be if you ever needed to know.

Just some thoughts.
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biobee
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you want to do NOTHING with your bees, then I suggest you keep them in a hollow tree or man-made alternative, such as a Warre hive. There is nothing wrong with being a bee conservationist, but there is little point in using a hTBH for that purpose, This hive is designed for beekeeping, which implies (through common usage) that you will be doing more than just watching them from a distance.

I think the north-south thing needs more supporting evidence before we can call it a law or even a strong preference.
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Che Guebuddha
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 6:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have entrance at the end of the hive facing South. The bees are building combs East-West. So far they are staying on the top bars. Lets see how this develops.
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FollowMeChaps
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

biobee wrote:
If you want to do NOTHING with your bees, then I suggest you keep them in a hollow tree or man-made alternative, such as a Warre hive.

Here we agree, biobee. However, as folk are encouraged to build horizontal hives on this forum and given this is claimed to be a 'Natural Beekeeping' forum, I thought that Jennifer's post deserved to have an answer to her obvious dilemma so I responded with how she could keep bees more naturally in a horizontal hive.

biobee wrote:
There is nothing wrong with being a bee conservationist, but there is little point in using a hTBH for that purpose, This hive is designed for beekeeping, which implies (through common usage) that you will be doing more than just watching them from a distance.

Again I agree, but you can keep bees and harvest in a horizontal hive without interfering all the time.

It is your Barefoot Beekeeper book which started me on this natural route a few years ago. My experience since starting has lead me further down the more natural path. What a pity that you haven't also trusted your bees more; probably down to your conventional background and training - yet you have previously called me dogmatic! Rolling Eyes

biobee wrote:
I think the north-south thing needs more supporting evidence before we can call it a law or even a strong preference.

Who said it was law? If you want proof then do your own research. I'm giving Jennifer the best advice I can based on the strong evidence I have. If she is free to position her hive freely then why not run with the best evidence, albeit anecdotal?

When you first published your book biobee you, quite rightly, stuck to your guns despite the establishment arguing that there was no proof that bees faired better on natural comb, etc. Why have you now become the establishment yourself, poo pooing others who are progressing the natural agenda?

Jennifer, I sincerely apologise that your good and genuine question resulted in forum politics. You can keep bees naturally (conservationist) or near naturally (low interference) in a horizontal so I suggest that you go for it and always listen to what your bees are telling you.

To everyone else I did sincerely try, but my views are obviously going to be attacked each time I post by our host so I'm off, though I reserve the right to use the Perone thread. If you want to message me please use my email - see my signature below. God bless and happy beekeeping.

Robin Smile
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biobee
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Once again you post an unnecessarily divisive, ad hominem argument that seems aimed at causing mischief rather than addressing real issues.

May I remind you that making insulting remarks and attacking individuals is expressly against the rules of this forum. Had you done this to anyone else here, it would have earned you a ticking off at least. As it is, I recognize that by putting my head above the parapet, some people will take pot-shots just because they can.

My remarks were clearly intended to address the question that was asked. You, for reasons of your own, seem to have read them as somehow attacking you personally.

I will leave readers to draw their own conclusions.
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John
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 5:53 pm    Post subject: Side entrance for long hive Reply with quote

Follow Me Chaps wrote:
To everyone else I did sincerely try, but my views are obviously going to be attacked each time I post by our host so I'm off, though I reserve the right to use the Perone thread. If you want to message me please use my email - see my signature below. God bless and happy beekeeping.


This forum is to be commended for its polite exchange of views on all sides and this thread is about positioning of entrances, which implies management of some sort. We are filling in the gaps left, (since the second half of the 19th C to date), of research and beekeeping advances that should have been made 150 years ago, and no doubt would have been had not a technological fix been adopted.

There are bound to be disagreements - so please, Follow Me Chaps, stay. So far as leave alone beekeeping goes, good or bad, I live in a commuter belt of closely built housing where the good folk of Biggin don't understand bees and, for some reason or other, are far more likely to be severely allergic to venom.

When they say "I'm allergic to bees", I am generally met with a negative response if I say "Yes Madam, do you mean you swell up a lot or do you curl up and die?"

Rather brutally put but I cant afford to let my bees swarm, so I have to ensure that at least the prime swarm stays at home and preferably the would be casts as well. Top bar hives are a great compromise.

If you let your bees swarm you need to be sure that you will not be creating a hazard for neighbours, (1), and that there will be a suitable home for your lost swarm to occupy if you loose them (2). In England's green and crowded land this may be something of an oxymoron.

Robin, stay any way.

Good beekeeping
John
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jumbleoak
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FollowMeChaps wrote:

biobee wrote:
I think the north-south thing needs more supporting evidence before we can call it a law or even a strong preference.

Who said it was law? If you want proof then do your own research. I'm giving Jennifer the best advice I can based on the strong evidence I have.


If you come back to this topic anytime, FollowMeChaps, I'd be interested to know of the strong evidence you have re. the above.
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spenbroc
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jumbleoak wrote:
FollowMeChaps wrote:

biobee wrote:
I think the north-south thing needs more supporting evidence before we can call it a law or even a strong preference.

Who said it was law? If you want proof then do your own research. I'm giving Jennifer the best advice I can based on the strong evidence I have.


If you come back to this topic anytime, FollowMeChaps, I'd be interested to know of the strong evidence you have re. the above.


Me too! And I would also like to know how you FollowMeChaps would handle the following scenario....

Two of my colonies in top bar hives have been hosted well away from dwellings in an organic orchard without problems for 2 years. Both swarmed last year and increase made with swarm cells. One of the the resulting 3 extra colonies started showing aggressive tendencies early this spring and by late April had become a stinging nuisance to the host landowner. He very quickly requested their removal and luckily I have an option. How about you FollowMeChaps?

Jon
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Gareth
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Robin, Phil

Ptarmigan has a point: either discuss matters in a civilized manner or simply agree to differ. But please stop seeing each other as a reason to get wound up. It benefits neither of you.

As I see it, there is a continuum from leave alone conservation through to intensive management. Hive type is secondary, although some hives encourage more intervention than others. Different people come out at different places on the continuum. And different circumstances mandate different approaches too. Neighbours are a key consideration and, much as we would like neighbours to be tolerant of our passion, sometimes they simply are not and we have to be seen to take reasonable steps to address their concerns: even if we, as beekeepers, find those concerns to be unwarranted.

Sometimes that means moving hives. Sometimes it means a degree of management in the swarm season that goes beyond that which we would otherwise prefer, although seeing a swarm taken by a competent beekeeper can do wonders for getting neighbours on side.

And let us not forget that we are all learning, or at least we should be.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 1:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Gareth's first para
well I would of course, because it is a much better and politic summary of my case than I managed ! Smile

But the second and subsequent paras are (sorry G.) to diplomatically address the previous topic/discussion,
not the topic into which it sadly descended !

Phil typically, robustly ( but in my opinion unhelpfully) follows the route of AdHom,
typical of the (pre Web), usenet, debates that usually got nowhere.
But he does at least do it here, openly, in this and other places.
Much good it may or may not do his cause.

Robin however casts toys about and exhorts others to migrate to email,
which not only engenders suspicion of other motives
but fails to appreciate the purpose of open debate on forums
and the use of PM, not to conduct private diatribes but simply to conduct mundane personal business of no interest to others.

This Phil-Robin rivalry, if not resolved, will be (if not already, cos it has been going on a while) detrimental to the purpose of the forum, as I humbly see it,

if you want more :-

Somewhere in my intros when I joined I think I made clear that I was an agnostic possible beekeeper !
I have a couple of acres ** that could accomodate bees if they really needed it !
I am not far from YABeeP
I have said elswhere that this year I observed an unusual big increase in bee numbers in my plot,
so maybe I am nolonger needed,
maybe bees are nolonger hard pressed,
maybe YABeep are doing a good job.

Robin's antics, and till recently, his failure to explain why hTBH are nolonger flavour of the month.
have persuaded me to take a back seat.

I will be watching ,,,

** actually, if I combine forces with my daughter, another 15a here and there N.Somerset.
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Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gareth - thank you for your level headedness
Ptarmigan - I deleted your first post because it contributed little to the debate and could be seen to be inflammatory. I have left your second post as you elucidated your argument, at least. And I take your point, although in this instance I was at no point trying to 'wind anyone up'.

I am now locking this post as it has strayed far from its origins. If someone wishes to re-start the original discussion, I have no objection, but it must stay on track next time around.
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