I have 3/4" pine top bars in my three top bar hives and they are
working just fine. To avoid warping, twisting, or cupping, it's
important to start with well-dried lumber (kiln dried is fine) that
has very straight grain and no knots. Chose lumber with grain that
indicates it did not come from near the center of the tree. I like to
see the tree's growth rings nearly straight.
If your top-bar hive is long (most seem to be about 40-48" long) I'd
recommend the same criteria given above for the hive sides and cover.
Knots, etc. in the ends are not a big deal, but warping and twisting
in the long sides could result in your top bars and cover not fitting
As for winter stores, a colony here in the mountains of Utah (I'm at
5,900' elevation) should have around 9-10 deep Langstroth frames full
of honey at the end of the last nectar flow in mid September (here,
that's rabbitbrush). A full deep Langstroth frame caries about 7
pounds of honey, so that's 60-70 pounds of honey. Local *successful*
beekeepers can give you a better number for your area than can I.
You'll need a bit less in areas with shorter winters such as Arkansas.
Since top-par combs vary widely due to no standardization of bar and
hive size, you'll need to know how much honey your combs carry. My top
bars are sized to fit in a Langstroth hive, so they're a bit longer
than most top bars. Because the hive sides are sloped, the combs carry
less than a Langstroth frame -- about 6 pounds. So, I leave them with
10-11 combs of honey.
The most important thing to know is that leaving more stores than they
need causes no harm whatsoever. Leaving them short on stores results
in the death of the colony and wastes what honey the consumed before
they died. If they're short on stores, either plan of feeding them to
get through the winter or take all the honey, snuff the colony, and
start over in the spring.
Most winter-kills are not due to temperature -- but to starvation.
They can actually starve with adequate stores in the hive. During cold
spells, the bees won't move around the hive to find scattered spots of
honey, So, all the honey needs to be located together so that the bees
don't need to break the cluster to move to where the honey is.
After nearly 50 years of stewardship up to 40 colonies (currently only
12), I've lost less than a half-dozen colonies to Old Man Winter.
Adequate stores, and strong colonies is the key.
> Posted by: "robbie46" robbie46@... robbie46
> Date: Tue Sep 18, 2012 7:01 am ((PDT))
> Good morning folks,
> I have a question about the top bars. I made mine out of 3/4' pine and have found some that have warped. What is the best wood to make the bars from?
> I live in NC Arkansas where the temp might get down to 0 F a couple of times during the winter. Most of the time is is in the 30's or 40's. How many combs will the bees need to make it until spring?
> I am so impressed with the TBH that I sold all my langs this week and will be building three more TBH's this winter.
> Thanks, Robbie