Hybrid: Top Bar and Langstroth Super hive

lesellersFebruary 22, 2011

We want bees along with our aquaponic'n'rabbit greenhouse. For anyone who's seen my queries in the vemiculture forum, you'll know that I am a "merger maniac". We're joining "standard" aquaponics with rabbit hutches for what I call "integraponics" for food production. Now, I want to merge the two major bee hive types to get the advantages of both. Here's my proposal:

For the lowest level of a bee hive, where the queen lays her eggs and the workers brood the larvae, I'd like to have a top bar hive. This would let the bees make their own comb suitable for that purpose(s) (for workers and for drones, etc.). Since I would not be disturbing this level too often (to check the condition of the hive, otherwise, they'll be on their own), there's no reason for them to destroy the wax, and the cells will be the proper size for this use.

However, for the honey supers, which I've only seen in a few places for a top bar hive, I'd like to use "standard" frames, turned 90 degrees so the longer dimension is vertical. That matches, pretty well, the width of the top bar hive body. This way, the bees still would not have to make new comb every time I harvest their work. All the standard tools would work, too.

This adaptation would let us have more honey the advantage of the Langstroth hives for honey (more honey, less wax) and of the top bar hive (properly sized cells for the brood which makes a stronger, healthier colony).

I'm far from an expert in these mattes, so any input would be most appreciated. Especially, I'm interested in why it would not work: there's no sense in wasting time and effort in doing something that's impossible.

All the best,

Le Sellers

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It might work. you will never know until you try. The major problem that I see would be getting a complete seal along the edges. If there is a gap you invite robbing. You can get robbing started even if you only have one hive. Remember, that bees will travel two - three miles for nectar. If there are any other colonies, hived or wild, within that range they will home in on exposed comb like a magnet.

The primary difference between the two types of hives is a tb allows the bees to build comb naturally while the Langstroth forces the bees to build within a controlled environment.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 7:59AM
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Thanks for the input.

It looks promising, at least as far as I've been able to investigate.

Your observation that the top bar hive allows the bees to build their own comb is the reason I'm looking at it for the brood cells. From what I've seen, these cells are a different size than the "standard" Langstroth imprinted cell and there are bee health issues that arise from this. That justifies, in my mind, the extra work and expense.

All the best,
Le Sellers

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 11:28PM
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Anybody have any good dealings with Warre Hives?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 10:58PM
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Check to see - I believe there are foundations for brood cells available for standard hives. There are also drone foundation sheets for growing hives. In the US there is a basic standard but some European suppliers have a wider variety of foundation cells.

It may be easier to learn with the standard equipment - easier to control with less damage. Easier to inspect - you can remove frames to check for pests, queen etc. I don't have much experience with TBH but I have removed wild comb from houses - finding the queen, keeping the bees healthy and paying attention to eggs etc.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 1:16PM
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take a standard deep frame. cut a piece of wood to go from one corner to the other corner diagonally. staple into the frame, use no foundation. the bees start their comb in the corners and build out.. just like top bar only better.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 10:12PM
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There is no reason not to use top bar frames in Langstroth hives.Top it with standard supers.It has and is being done.

Here is a link that might be useful: Langstroth top bar hives

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 8:28PM
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I was thinking leaving some empty frames in my honey supers to let the bees draw them out themselves. I just filled the top groove with wax to give them something to start at but I got nervous about everyone talking about proper beespace etc... and took them out. I was thinking the second to last frames on the edges would be good for this as they couldn't stick them to the side of the hive. I probably should've just left them in as my little experiment as I don't really care of they make a mess of the comb or not at this point.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 5:59PM
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