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Newbie with a bar spacing question

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  • Debbie
    Hi all, This is my first time posting so I will give a little history....please bear with me as I do have a question. Let me also preface by saying that what
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 16, 2012
      Hi all,

      This is my first time posting so I will give a little history....please bear with me as I do have a question. Let me also preface by saying that what little I know of beekeeping has come from scouting the various forums online, books, and following the CD that I purchased along with the hive plans at backyardhive.com.

      I installed my first bees into a top bar hive on April 11 of this year. The hive filled up quickly and to even my inexperienced eye was looking way too full so I decided that yes, this was way too much fun to only have one so we started building a second hive and planned to try a split. The day before the split was to happen they swarmed! I couldn't let them go - so borrowed a ladder that would reach to the top of the apple tree where they had landed and nabbed them. Luckily or stupidly, I did it in the dark (hubby at the bottom holding both ladder and flashlight) because I am NOT a ladder climber...hate em. But in the excitement and the dark didn't give it a second thought. lol That was 5 days ago and they seem to have settled nicely into the new hive...saw a new fully drawn comb this morning. (wheeee!)

      My question involves the spacing of the bars. On my first one they drew wonderfully straight combs through the first half until they reached where I had started putting in spacers to allow for the difference in the size of combs to contain honey. (per the instructions with the hive) The bars are 1 3/8" and call for 1/4" inch spacers making the space for honeycomb 1 5/8". From that point back they started attaching combs to each other and building in between them. It's a mess that I have decided I will just deal with next spring when honey can be taken out...but I don't want to allow it to happen in the new one. I think I listened to some wrong advice that said to leave the hive alone for the first year. I feel like I should have been checking each comb and making corrections as I went, but lesson learned. Do you think they freaked out by having too much space suddenly between their bars? I'm considering not even putting spacers this time. What would you do?

      I want to thank everyone who contributes to the wonderful online bee community...I've learned so much from all of you. Especially want to give a shout out to Christy and her videos from Gold Star Hives....they have been immensely helpful. Wish I had found them earlier.

      Thanks in advance for any suggestions regarding the bar spacing.

      Debbie
      Merlin, OR
    • Joycelyn Kasmir
      In my experience the first year is the busiest year with a top bar hive. I hope you got one with a window, as it makes maintanince much easier and disturbs the
      Message 2 of 4 , Jun 17, 2012
        In my experience the first year is the busiest year with a top bar hive.
        I hope you got one with a window, as it makes maintanince much easier
        and disturbs the bees much less.

        You can track how your bees are pulling comb by checking the window
        every couple days. The trick is, if you feed in a blank comb between 2
        nice straight combs, the bees have no choice but to pull a straight comb
        down between them. once they have three or four combs pulled down at
        least 5 inches down or more, you can begin adding blanks between.

        One important rule is do not put a blank on each side of a brood comb.
        They need at least 2 brood combs side by side to maintain proper
        temperature to raise brood. You can get away with a blank on either
        side of Honey Bars. So if you have 5 brood combs, then 3 honey combs,
        you would go in and do this:
        <brood><brood><BLANK><brood><brood><BLANK><brood><honey><BLANK><honey><BLANK><honey>
        then the rest of your blanks.

        Watch through your window. You will find that they pull the added blank
        bars quickly. Once they pull these down past 5 inches, it is time to go
        in again. Follow the same pattern.

        I would wait on the spacers a bit, you will see that they will begin
        building the honey bars wider, this, allowing for bee space, will push
        the next comb off center for the next bar. That is what the spacer is
        for. By adding the spacer, it adjust the placement of the new comb to
        dead center of the bar following it. If you see them going off center,
        add a spacer and a blank, to get them more correctly placed.

        Another note for later on. If your entrance is near the end your bee
        will have brood on that end and honey further back. The queen will not
        (usually) cross the first full bar of honey (often called the honey
        barrier) in search of new places to lay eggs. Because of this, the brood
        nest will often fill up in the Spring, and though there are empty bars
        farther back, the bees will consider it "full" or "cramped" and start
        making preparations to swarm. By feeding in blanks into the brood area,
        you are constantly giving the queen new areas to lay, and she will do so
        as quickly as possible. This will take the bees "mind" off of swarming,
        and toward production. You will end up with a large amount of bees,
        making large amount of Honey.

        When you harvest honey off of a nice straight comb, leave the top1 to 2
        inches or so on the bar. The bees will continue the replacement comb
        down, nice and straight, on that bar. If you get a honey comb that is
        not straight to your liking, harvest the whole bar, scrape it clean of
        most of the wax, and place it between two straight honey bars. You may
        need spacers to get them right in the center. If you have a brood bar
        your not happy with, move it along with all its attached nurse bees into
        the Honey bar area. Once the bees develop and emerge, the bees will back
        fill the comb with honey. Once this is done, harvest that honey bar,
        scrape it clean of wax, and place between 2 straight combs.

        Once you have straight comb on all bars, your top bar is a snap.

        In your case, since you said that you had good straight combs in your
        brood area of hive #1, you may consider taking 2 bars of their brood,
        and move it over to box #2. This will give them a good template to work
        with, and you something to feed empty blanks into. Just make sure your
        hive #1 queen doesn't take the ride over to hive #2.

        Good luck with your hives,

        --
        Joycelyn Kasmir
        DiamondJFarms.com
        Home of "Country Side" TB son of Secretariat
        and "Sparklin High Cotton" Cremello QH Grandson of Shining Spark



        On 6/16/2012 2:39 PM, Debbie wrote:
        > Hi all,
        >
        > This is my first time posting so I will give a little history....please bear with me as I do have a question. Let me also preface by saying that what little I know of beekeeping has come from scouting the various forums online, books, and following the CD that I purchased along with the hive plans at backyardhive.com.
        >
        > I installed my first bees into a top bar hive on April 11 of this year. The hive filled up quickly and to even my inexperienced eye was looking way too full so I decided that yes, this was way too much fun to only have one so we started building a second hive and planned to try a split. The day before the split was to happen they swarmed! I couldn't let them go - so borrowed a ladder that would reach to the top of the apple tree where they had landed and nabbed them. Luckily or stupidly, I did it in the dark (hubby at the bottom holding both ladder and flashlight) because I am NOT a ladder climber...hate em. But in the excitement and the dark didn't give it a second thought. lol That was 5 days ago and they seem to have settled nicely into the new hive...saw a new fully drawn comb this morning. (wheeee!)
        >
        > My question involves the spacing of the bars. On my first one they drew wonderfully straight combs through the first half until they reached where I had started putting in spacers to allow for the difference in the size of combs to contain honey. (per the instructions with the hive) The bars are 1 3/8" and call for 1/4" inch spacers making the space for honeycomb 1 5/8". From that point back they started attaching combs to each other and building in between them. It's a mess that I have decided I will just deal with next spring when honey can be taken out...but I don't want to allow it to happen in the new one. I think I listened to some wrong advice that said to leave the hive alone for the first year. I feel like I should have been checking each comb and making corrections as I went, but lesson learned. Do you think they freaked out by having too much space suddenly between their bars? I'm considering not even putting spacers this time. What would you do?
        >
        > I want to thank everyone who contributes to the wonderful online bee community...I've learned so much from all of you. Especially want to give a shout out to Christy and her videos from Gold Star Hives....they have been immensely helpful. Wish I had found them earlier.
        >
        > Thanks in advance for any suggestions regarding the bar spacing.
        >
        > Debbie
        > Merlin, OR
        >
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        > The group archive and other pages can be accessed at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TopHive
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >
      • OOWONBS@Netscape.net
        I m a newbie too but thrive on data & info where #s are concerned. Add 1 3/8 & 1/4 & you get 1 5/8. I do not often read of 1 1/2 spacing. 1 3/8, yes. 1 3/8 &
        Message 3 of 4 , Jun 18, 2012
          I'm a newbie too but thrive on data & info where #s are concerned.
          Add 1 3/8 & 1/4 & you get 1 5/8.
          I do not often read of 1 1/2" spacing. 1 3/8, yes.
          1 3/8 & give or take 1/16, a lot. 1 1/4, some, like 1 1/2.
          1 3/8 & 1 7/16 seem to be the most common, with 1 5/16 the next.

          SOME extra spacing sometimes, in the outer 2 TBs.
          This offers more drone and queen cell room as well as these
          being often just for honey stores, in more traditional; hives.
          I still don't see 1 5/8 very often, even there. MAYBE an extra
          1/8 only between the 1st & last TB & the end or side wall.
          (Depending of you having an HTB hive, (you) or
          VTB hive/Lang/Stackables.) Same reason, honey, drones,
          queen cells. (NOT that they cannot occur anywhere...)

          Last note. Much is said of a "natural regression to small cell."
          When a bee gets skinnier, it's gonna be proportionately shorter.
          Thus, old notes on spacing might gradually be lessened,
          perhaps 1/16th & another 1/16 in a yr or 2, off the cuff.
          Deep cell spacing is ok IF you can induce bees to just
          make honey there. This serves commercial folk well. It can
          involve routine use of includers/excluders. Not typically
          a direction TB beeks are looking or can as readily control.

          BillSF9c

          >My question involves the spacing of the bars. On my first one they drew wonderfully straight combs through the first half until they reached where I had started putting in spacers to allow for the difference in the size of combs to contain honey. (per the instructions with the hive) The bars are 1 3/8" and call for 1/4" inch spacers making the space for honeycomb 1 5/8".
          From that point back they started attaching combs to each other and building in between them.

          > Thanks in advance for any suggestions regarding the bar spacing.
          DebbieMerlin, OR




          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Debbie
          Thanks so much for the detailed input Joycelyn and BillSF9¢...most appreciated. Is it normal for the mother hive to get testy after a swarm? I hadn t been
          Message 4 of 4 , Jun 18, 2012
            Thanks so much for the detailed input Joycelyn and BillSF9¢...most appreciated.

            Is it normal for the mother hive to get testy after a swarm? I hadn't been stung in the two months I've had them and since the swarm, three times this week. Seems like it would make sense that they would be out of sorts. (human sense anyway)

            Thanks again!
            Debbie
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