Monday, March 04, 2013

Top Bar Hives

My new Top Bar hive arrived a little while ago and I had a lot of fun putting it together with the less-than-complete instructions, but there is not much to it and it is pretty obvious what you need to do. They are very cheap compared to the National hives I have used to date. £65 from Thornes and that includes a £10 donation to Bees for Development. I made a stand out of scrap wood (as I usually do for my hives) and it looks pretty good, even if it is made out of plywood. It will be interesting to see how it lasts through next winter. I will varnish it soon (on the outside only of course) and also give the roof a covering of felt or something similar. All I need now are some bees to put in it - but the days are getting warmer again now so there will be plenty of chances to catch a swarm soon.
The hive roof just sits on top of the top-bars which can be seen more clearly in my second picture which shows the inside of the hive, the mesh floor, the sliding cover for the mesh floor and a stack of top-bars. You can see that the bar on the top has been turned over so the line of wax is visible - I melted some old wax into grooves cut into each top-bar as a guide for the bees to build on. They don't always follow it though - one friend of mine told me his bees built combs at 90 degree angles to the top-bars which was pretty tricky for him to deal with. I shall post later on in the season as things progress with this hive, so I can share what I learn and how the bees get on...

...well, last week I picked up a swarm from a local village; it was a good size and so I decided to get it into the top bar hive to see if they would take to it. I got the swarm into the hive well and got the top bars back onto the hive. After a couple of hours they were all in there and seemed like they were happy enough. I checked on them today and they were taking in pollen, which is an indication that the Queen is laying brood. I opened up the far end of the hive to see if I could see them on the other end. As you can see from this photo, there are plenty of bees and although I could not see any comb, there seemed to be some in there; it was just covered in bees. They seem to be building the comb across the bars as I hoped they would. Now I have to give them the chance to build up the colony; it's going to be very interesting to see how they get on.

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