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Re: [beekeeping-128] bee keeping

From: Andrew
Sent on: Monday, June 9, 2008 8:08 AM
Some more on this specific $300. TBH.  I am not certain but I will guess that I am the only person on this forum who has purchased and operated one (this type, for two years) and I also maintain two of this exact hive for a customer.  I have many shapes and sizes of hives and want to have first hand experience over hearing someone else blather on about this or that.  I am not at all a fan of this particular TBH (though from a whimsical perspective I very much like TBHs in other versions).  Here is why I do not like them and would strongly recommend against these particular hives:
  • They have no air circulation whatever.  There is no way to allow air flow in the hive, which is absolutely necessary (the top notch in an inner cover on a Langstroth hive serves just this purpose).  Circulating air is the only way to prevent a host of maladies including condensation and mold.  The deadliest one would be the wet cold in the winter, which will surely kill the bees (I modified mine by drilling holes).
  • They are not built using galvanized metal (screws, nails, etc) so they rust and bleed rust and are unsightly in that respect.  I like my hives to look presentable and may be a bit particular about that.
  • The top bars in these hives are very poorly designed.  Rather than having a recess into which one would normally poor a small bit of wax or allow the bees to start wax, they have a protruding strip of wood.  Once built up, the comb is much weaker than the former/traditional TBH design. and more likely to snap off.
  • For what the customer received, it is extremely overpriced.  A visit to Home Depot or any lumberyard, one sheet of decent plywood, a saw, and an hour, and one could easily make two of these for a whopping $50. tops (add $5. if you want to jig out the window, which is a nice feature, but nothing new; it is just an observation hive feature).
  • The design of the cover (with no area for insulation in the winter, which equals often equals death during our winters) also is poorly designed in that it allows water to collect and rot the wood, or at best misshape it.  I believe the instructions noted that something could be used to cover the outer cover, but, by definition an outer cover should not need a cover, and besides, for $300., I do not want then to have to go out and buy corrugated steel or improvise another sort of covering). 
Jim is right about the Kenyan TBH being designed only within our lifetime.  If I am not mistaken it was done (at least the KTBH name coined by) by Peace Corp Volunteers.  However, when I mentioned that the TBH design has been around for thousands of year, I referred to the version of a hive in which slats that went atop skeps (examples easily found) which differentiate them from skeps, which are simply baskets with wild comb within, and were more or less destroyed to harvest honey (these now illegal in the U.S. since they cannot be inspected for disease).  There is also a fairly recent version of a TBH called a Tanzanian TBH, but really we are starting to split hairs there as it is very similar to the KTBH.
I am happy to hear another point of view from someone else who had used these hives or has some interesting theories.  There are also a few good websites for TBH users, with discussion boards.  I will try to dig one up.
On Fri, Jun 6, 2008 at 11:34 AM, Dana <[address removed]> wrote:
Unlike Dana, I would not suggest starting out with a
> top-bar
> hive, as they can be a challenge to manage.  Better
> to stick
> with the modern (20th and 21st century) hives that
> have frames. 
> Top bar hives are not offered in the catalogs of the
> larger
> bee supply firms listed above for a reason.  The
> reason is
> that there is no purpose in making life difficult
> for your
> bees by burdening them with "obsolete" hive designs.
Jim's comment that the Top Bar Hive is antiquated is just not true. Bees cluster in a circle or heart-shape, and there is nothing in nature that resembles a square. The Top-Bar Hive is a tribute to the bees' millions of years old true nature; to call that antiquated is like calling an old growth Redwood grove antiquated. I certainly do not think that way, or look forward to a future of squares and tree farms, and I doubt most bee enthusiasts feel that way. Biomimicry is taking hold, an effort to imitate nature's genius and stop humanity from loving itself (and the planet) to death!
I have studied bee-keeping with the East Coast's two leading teachers, Gunther Hauk and Chris Harp, and both strongly encourage the use of Top-Bar Frames. In fact, this frame is not antiquated at all, but a new model. Since you put the word "antiquated" in quotes, please inform whom you were quoting and what problems came up.
Squares are just another thing that is convenient to man and less than affirming of the soul of the colony, which adores a more circular or heart shape. And as we struggle to save these amazing creatures, experimenting in ways to honor them and serve their nature is what is required. There may be kinks to work out in the Top Bar Frames, but the more people use them, the sooner they will improve. AT this point in humanity's history with the bees, experimentation and closer involvement are critical, not the focus on expedience that is killing everything from bees to seas.
Furthermore, in response to Yash's comments,  when you use the Top-Bar Hive, the bees create their own cells; it is not necessary to lay foundation at all! This way the bees can build their cells at whatever scale they prefer, and this is critical as it will leave less time for mites to infest the brood. I know of no square foundation where such is the case.
So Nick, what kind of a cluster is it after all?
I once watched Gunther catch a swarm with a box by laying maple leaves in it and beating on a drum, after cutting down the limb they were on. He didn't use sugar water ever. The drumbeat helps them understand that the box is for them. He said the beat is like a human heart, and signals that you are ready to be involved with them.
Chris Harp is an expert at removing bees safely. He's at (845) 255-6113. He'd probably be the best person to get to advise you.
For your own sake, I'd wear a veil and gloves, elastic around your sleeves, and keep your pants tucked in your socks, and wear light colors. And have experienced help if you can!
Until you get them in a frame, it would be helpful if you at least put a water source for them nearby, and put pebbles in the bottom to prevent drowning incidents. A Boardman feeder from Dadant would be fine, if you add pebbles to the bottom. They love to hang by the water coolor! Besides that, I really hope you call Chris. And let us all know what he advises! 
Write me privately if you'd like to see a nice picture of a home-made feeder from the Pfeiffer Center. It's too many bites for this system.
Best wishes,
In a message dated 6/6/2008 9:51:48 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, [address removed] writes:
Hi all,
I'm a new member and have been reading up on beekeeping.
I will probably see some of you at the Meetup on Saturday, but I was wondering about a few things.
I have come across small cell and foundationless frames as a way of avoiding mite infestation.
Are any of you doing this?
Is the mite infestation in the city lighter than in other areas?

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