May 30, 2017 at 4:30 pm #10819
I just started my first hive mid April. I’m feeling a little challenged and am starting to question myself. I feel if I could get some guidance and have a mentor come out that is familiar specifically with Top Bar hives, it would make a world of difference to this newbie. Thanks in advance. 🙂May 31, 2017 at 9:31 am #10820
Hi, Karen—please know that all beekeepers starting out are going to feel challenged and question their understanding!! You are starting to learn a detailed new craft and it is heavily grounded in biology of Apis mellifera. You can help yourself by reading Les Crowder’s book on TBH beekeeping “Top Bar Beekeeping”
That said, it is not so important what box you have the bees in as understanding the principles of beekeeping—the queen, worker bees and drones that constitute the working population of the hive and its year-round cycle of activities. Please access the book on-line by Michael Bush “The Practical Beekeeper—Beekeeping Naturally” Especially important to commit to memory is the table of emergence times for the bee pupae here http://www.bushfarms.com/beesmath.htm You can not calculate various issues without knowing this important information. Other helpful links to keeping bees without chemical treatment—Rob and Chelsea McFarland’s “Save the Bees With Natural Backyard Hives” and the basic, foundational book I first read “The Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping” by Stiglitz and Herboldsheimer.
Where did you source the bees? Were they from a feral swarm? Were they package bees? (the latter will probably need chemical treatments against varroa mites, as their genetics and raising are most likely representing this kind of management—you can’t just go treatment free by pulling them off their meds) Ferals are naturally resistant to mites. If you bought the bees, you must question the breeder directly about treatments as I have found almost none of them openly declare the bees they sell must be supported this way. If they are treatment free, it is something they will brag about.
Unfortunately, our club does not have many people actually working as mentors and I am in Manhattan Beach, so far from you. It is possible someone is out there I don’t know about. Let’s see who turns up with your post.May 31, 2017 at 10:26 am #10821
Thanks Susan. I am reading those exact books. I thought I was doing ok but when I went in yesterday to check things, one of the drawn combs had fallen off its bar. I tried to rubber band it back on which was a challenge to do by myself and I smushed some bees in the process, pissing them all off. It was pretty traumatic for all of us. Larvae had come out of the comb… it wasn’t a pretty site. It was absolutely clear to me that I have no idea what I’m doing so I hope I can find some guidance here. Even if I need to pay someone to come out and go over everything with me.
I appreciate your feedback. 🙂May 31, 2017 at 11:19 am #10822
I have 2 top bar hives (from Bee Thinking in Oregon) You may have 2 pretty simple problems to fix: be really careful when handling bars not to stress the comb attachment, and attach loose comb using a clamp-type hair clip and zipper ties. I live in Marina del Rey, work full time and have no time available until Saturday afternoon. Nan ODonnell 310-804-7066May 31, 2017 at 1:33 pm #10823
Nan is correct—when handling the top bar with comb on it the comb must be always kept in perfect vertical to the ground—do not turn it even slightly to horizontal. This may have happened when opening and inspecting earlier you weakened the attachment. Once the combs get older and more darkly colored they are less likely to break. I would use string to lightly bind the comb to the top bar in a repair operation. Rubber bands will pull too hard on the soft white comb, digging into it or bending it. You NEED a frame hanger, a purpose made perch that holds a bar while you work on it. Nan mentions the clamp type hair clip, but those are useless on really fresh comb, simply cutting into it and the comb still drops—I have experienced this with a Warre hive.
Yes, you MUST pay anyone who is taking their time to come out to you to teach. Think of any other endeavor where you want a skilled educator.
Finally, you did not say where the bees were sourced….
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