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16009Re: Newcomer's question about top bar hives

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  • tomzboxathotmaildotcom
    Feb 1, 2012
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      Rhonda,

      There's no reason to worry about the bees' need to go "up" or "down" in a top bar hive. They are smart enough little critters to know that when they live in a horizontal hive they need to go "left" or "right" instead. They handle this just fine.

      The major way to use top bar hives if you desire a vertical configuration is to use Warré hives. They are cubic top bar hives that stack vertically (Yes, this is an oversimplification, OldBeeks, don't be disturbed.) Here is the very best place to learn about Warré hives: <http://www.bee-friendly.co.uk/> .

      You other question about bees being less defensive with top bars is true to some extent. However, in practice I have found with my kTBH hives that the bees stick the top bars down and anchor the combs to the walls so securely that you hardly ever can just lift a single top bar out easily. You need a top bar comb knife <http://warre.biobees.com/cutter.htm> to disengage them. This operation usually requires moving several combs, plus dislodging the top bar by using a hive tool to pry it loose. The bees can become defensive real quick unless you are a zen master beekeeper with perfect movement. <g>

      I have 5 top bars - kTBHs - at the moment and 3 Warrés, plus two Langs which I am keeping in a natural, biodynamic way. The Langs start with open frames which have starter strips along the top, allowing the bees to build to suit their purposes. I "nadir" the supers as in Warré practices, rather than stack them on top. I find that all three types of hives require just about the same amount of "management". But the horizontal TBH hives are definitely less expensive.

      Bees are pretty flexible and forgiving. My old mentor found a colony in a suitcase recently. They seemed to be doing just fine. ;-)

      good luck!

      Tom W.
      Pleasant Hill, OR
      http://awholenotherbeeblog.blogspot.com/
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