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a couple of top bar questions

 
S Windlass
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Hi, Christy,

So glad to have you at Permies!

I have watched a number of your videos on YouTube in my bee research -very helpful, thank you for taking the time to make them- , and I have some questions:

1). It seems like your top bar hives are significantly larger than some of the others on the market. Does hive size matter?

2). You mentioned powdered sugar for dealing with mites, but other sources say sugar is not enough. Do you use other pesticides on your bees?

Thank you! I have learned so much from your videos!

Speedy
 
Patrick Mann
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
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Adding to the original question: what size hive do you consider optimal for overwintering? I have lost several colonies overwintering in full-size top bars. Now I am thinking about overwintering in top bar nucs; or splitting a single top bar into 2 colonies for overwintering. My thinking is to reduce the amount of space that the bees need to thermo-regulate.
 
Peter Hartman
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Location: springfield, MO
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I have read in several places that a 100 liter volume is a good size to shoot for. Many of the hives you buy on the internet are only 3ft long and usually in the neighborhood of 75 liters. This is fine but it will really encourage the bees to swarm. When the season starts to cool a follower board can reduce the size of a hive to make it easier to control the temperature. You may also consider leaving most of the honey in the hive until spring. The thermal mass in theory will help control the temperature swings.
 
Aaron Althouse
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Location: Shine, WA - Zone 8b
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I'll add another question - about predator control. We have black bears that come onto our property during apple harvest time, and I am looking to deter them. Is there any benefit to using a top bar hive as opposed to a vertical one? We're mainly using bees for pollination and don't necessarily plan to harvest their honey. Will this increase the likelihood of bear activity? What have others done?

Thanks for any insight!

-AA
 
Peter Hartman
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Depending on the level of the bear population you have, you made need to build a complete enclosure with something like woven wire to keep the bears out. A solid electric fence may also do the job.
 
Aaron Althouse
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Location: Shine, WA - Zone 8b
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Peter Hartman wrote:Depending on the level of the bear population you have, you made need to build a complete enclosure with something like woven wire to keep the bears out. A solid electric fence may also do the job.


Thanks Peter. By "woven wire," do you mean like a cyclone fence?

-AA
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Aaron Althouse wrote:I'll add another question - about predator control. We have black bears that come onto our property during apple harvest time, and I am looking to deter them. Is there any benefit to using a top bar hive as opposed to a vertical one? We're mainly using bees for pollination and don't necessarily plan to harvest their honey. Will this increase the likelihood of bear activity? What have others done?

Thanks for any insight!

-AA


Electric fence. http://www.vtfishandwildlife.com/library/factsheets/Hunting_and_trapping/big_game/Bearproofing_Beehives.pdf
 
Peter Hartman
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Aaron Althouse
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Thanks R. Scott, and Peter again. Much obliged!
 
Christy Hemenway
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S Windlass wrote:Hi, Christy,

So glad to have you at Permies!

I have watched a number of your videos on YouTube in my bee research -very helpful, thank you for taking the time to make them- , and I have some questions:

1). It seems like your top bar hives are significantly larger than some of the others on the market. Does hive size matter?

2). You mentioned powdered sugar for dealing with mites, but other sources say sugar is not enough. Do you use other pesticides on your bees?

Thank you! I have learned so much from your videos!

Speedy



Hi Speedy ---
Glad you like the YouTube videos. (It's obvious that "videographer" was not my calling! )
The Gold Star hive is 44.5 inches long inside. Hive size needs to be relevant to the length and severity of the winters in the hive's geographical location. I'm in Maine so that's the sort of winter I'm wanting to be able to deal with. We do not (contrary to popular belief) have the most severe winters in the US - but like a Tootsie Roll Pop, they do last a long time.

I am totally treatment-free in my apiary and in fact have never found a mite load that I think required treating. So no - no other pesticides.
Bzzzzzt!

-- Christy
 
Christy Hemenway
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Patrick Mann wrote:Adding to the original question: what size hive do you consider optimal for overwintering? I have lost several colonies overwintering in full-size top bars. Now I am thinking about overwintering in top bar nucs; or splitting a single top bar into 2 colonies for overwintering. My thinking is to reduce the amount of space that the bees need to thermo-regulate.


That's the best reason I can think of for having two follower boards and a side center entrance - that way you are effectively moving the ends of the hive in so they are occupying a smaller area, and aren't struggling to heat the whole box!

Though... your idea of nuc-sized colonies has been successful in the Langstroth world - Mike Palmer and Kirk Webster seem to do well with that in Vermont.

-- Christy
 
Christy Hemenway
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Aaron Althouse wrote:I'll add another question - about predator control. We have black bears that come onto our property during apple harvest time, and I am looking to deter them. Is there any benefit to using a top bar hive as opposed to a vertical one? We're mainly using bees for pollination and don't necessarily plan to harvest their honey. Will this increase the likelihood of bear activity? What have others done?

Thanks for any insight!

-AA


I can't say there's any bear prevention advantage to one hive type over another... They are both pretty easily tossed over by a bear. Though perhaps it's a slight deterrent to the bear if you run a strap over a top bar hive roof and down to an anchor placed in the ground - in my beeyard I usually run a "dog corkscrew" into the ground beneath the hive and run the strap through there. Probably though that only deters the honest bears...


-- Christy
 
Noah Jackson
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Hi Christy,

Noah Jackson from Montana here. I'm building my first two top bar hives. Regarding ventilation, would you stay away from stainless steel window screen in the bottom? We have access to coffee bags as well, and that might be darker and do the job better. Any thoughts on those two materials?

Thanks!!
 
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