Author Topic: Keeping options open!  (Read 2958 times)

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Offline Perry

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Keeping options open!
« on: January 12, 2015, 05:10:40 pm »
Alright all you fellow keeps out there looking to make your fortune selling bees!  :laugh:
I have been approached several times over the last year or two by folks looking to buy nucs for their TBH's. I have been turning folks away because I really am not set up for that. I tell them that either catching a swarm (no guarantees) or buying a package (only sold here by a couple keeps with a minimum order of 20+) is all I can recommend.
Well I got an email from someone looking for just such a thing and I have decided to see if I can help by coming up with some way. (3 TBH nucs)
When Adam was raising TBH's I ended up with a "nuc" box which was nothing more than a regular cardboard nuc box with 6 Top Bars with drawn comb on them. I am thinking if I start 3 TBH nucs using 2 top bars with drawn comb in each, it shouldn't take long after installing bees and a queen for them to start drawing out the other top bars.
Any thoughts on this?
I really see this as another way to add revenue to my "enterprise" as it's a market no one seems to be meeting.







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Offline LazyBkpr

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Re: Keeping options open!
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2015, 09:11:06 pm »
DOnt have any advice to give on this one, but am interested in seeing how you do! Keep the pics and info coming on this deviation!!
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Offline riverbee

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Re: Keeping options open!
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2015, 09:35:03 pm »
perry, my thought is, it won't hurt to try. 

my other thought is, not many beeks keep tbh hives, so another thought to you, you make up these nucs with the starter frames, bees and queens,  and no one is in the market for one, then what do you do?  you yourself don't keep tbh's so then what do you do? you have a tbh nuc going gangbusters with no buyer? what will you do then?  just thinking ahead if it were me.....

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Offline brooksbeefarm

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Re: Keeping options open!
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2015, 09:47:36 pm »
He could show people what REAL bees wax looks like. :laugh: :laugh: Jack

Offline apisbees

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Re: Keeping options open!
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2015, 11:01:32 pm »
the biggest problem is there is no standard for tbh frames and the hives get built to whatever size the lumber dictates or suits the beekeeper.
let them supply you with top bars that will fit in your lang supers they can cut them off to fit their hive when delivered. checker board their frames in a strong hive in the spring and then call when the bees have drawn and laid brood in them. let them know that they will receive the nuc when the bees have the frames ready...
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Offline Perry

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Re: Keeping options open!
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2015, 08:41:10 am »
Both Apis and River make good points. This person wants 3 TBH nucs and will be providing me with them to load. If not for the 2 top bars of drawn comb it would be nothing more than installing what amounted to a package.
I don't think I would ever get into actually having TBH nucs on stand-by as it were, but I would like to have the ability to make a few up if needed. Perhaps it's time that I actually run one myself that I could easily rob a few frames from every now and then to make a few nucs up when needed (sorta like Blueblood).
I personally don't care much for TBH's myself, but have to admit they sure look good to my back, it's saying "yeah yeah yeah!"
"It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor."      
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Offline Jen

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Re: Keeping options open!
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2015, 03:31:45 pm »
Hey Perry... have you given TBH a whirl? I was thinking the same thing about my back. What is your discontent with TBH?
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Offline Perry

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Re: Keeping options open!
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2015, 04:20:30 pm »
I haven't tried one myself, but my friend Adam had a few.
I don't like them because I am of the belief bees move in a vertical way, not horizontal as they have to in a TBH. I have also seen those that use TBH's have issues feeding them, stuff like that. I have no doubt at all that it is way cheaper to get started with bees that way, but to me that is the only advantage (besides the back thing).
Dave (Blueblood) keeps a few TBH's and likes them.
To me anyways, it seems like the only ones going the TBH route are a lot of the new beekeepers, and that worries me. I sometimes wish folks would just follow the "standard" way of keeping their bees, at least for a couple of years, and then head off into the wild blue yonder with your different ideas. It is hard for me to tell someone with a TBH what is going on or going wrong in it when I have little to no idea myself!
I remember when I first started keeping bees I was absolutely convinced that I would not have any of the issues all the rest were having because I was going to keep my bees differently (no treatment, etc. etc.). It didn't take long for the smug smile to get wiped off my face.
When you lose your hives the first or second year in a row, it's no wonder a lot of new keeps fall by the wayside.
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Offline ShannaRose

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That old TBH vs Lang argument
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2015, 03:26:09 pm »
I know this is an old topic, but I'm away from my bees right now so all I can do is read.  I read an old post where someone talked about "standard" beekeeping.   I'm just curious to ask WHY that person would wish people would just do "standard" Langs for a few years then branch off "into the wild blue yonder" of TBH.  Perhaps over the next 25 years the "standard" will slowly evolve, just as our bees are slowly evolving to deal with the pests.  I am one of those starry-eyes 1st year beeks, maybe even one of those  "treehugger" types that the old timers complain about- yet I've been an off-grid tropical homesteader for 25 years and spend my time learning to work alongside nature- which is what permaculture is about- so treatment-free TBH beekeeping works for me.

My feral mix queens and bees do a great job keeping the shb numbers way down as long as I do my job in keeping a hygienic hive with inspections as needed. I live in a place (Hawaii) where every imported pest and invasive plant species takes off like it's on steroids, which is why the shb can be so devastating here.  And it's not just my personal 1st year luck, as I attend hives with my mentor occasionally who has been doing TBH for over 6 years.  I can see what's happening as some hives in out yards fall into disrepair and are not maintained as well as they could be (shb infestations).   On the other hand, she is breeding bees that are strong enough to survive the shb's and allowing those who cannot to die out.  My preference is to work alongside nature, and if my bees cannot keep the shb population down without treatment then I will stop being a beekeeper in the same way that I have stopped growing certain plants or trees that do not thrive in my environment due to pests or disease. 

Just what if the use of TBH's is a preference, not just a way to be different?  What about Les Crowder and Wyatt Mangum- there are very good reasons why they choose TBH's, are there not? I am very new to these arguments yet am curious why there should be any arguments at all? Reading 4 different bee forums I do not see treatment-free TBH'ers complaining about Lang users.  If it's only about making and producing honey then by all means go for bigger bees and foundation in Langs and treat as needed-that's what conventional agriculture does.

For some that are not in the the honey biz,  keeping bees serves many different purposes.  It's obvious that people who would prefer to eat and live an organic lifestyle would prefer to go organic with their bees, their chickens and goats as well as their vegetable garden and fruit trees, if they are fortunate enough to have them. Not everyone makes that choice for their gardens or their diet or their bees and thats OK too..

Seems this forum is for all the different types of people with different ways of beekeeping to learn from one another.  Some groups such as Phil Chandlers Biobees forum and the yahoo organicbeekeepers group is already treatment free so the argument to treat or not is already a mute point.

There is plenty for me to learn from all the Lang keepers, andI would like to have one so I can understand better what people are talking about.  Had someone taught and set me up with a Lang to begin with I' d probably be doing that, but my first and only exposure on my island is to TBH and so far so good- and so much to learn.  Still bees are bees in whatever house they are in and there are always similarities to learn from.

Offline Perry

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Re: Keeping options open!
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2015, 04:55:49 pm »
I hope you were not offended by my previous post as you have made a few references to it, it was not my attention.
I guess with TBH's or in fact, anything really different, problems arise. If I help someone get set up with a TBH, trying to convert Lang frames to work in their set-ups, that is about the extent of my help. I know nothing about how to feed, manipulate, etc. using TBH equipment. It can be very hard for someone up here to get started as really the only easy way is to order package bees, and there are only 2 people here in NS who bring them in and they have minimums to buy (20 I believe).
If that TBH does not survive, they are right back to square one facing the exact same issues the next year.
I guess I am of the belief that the learning curve is so steep for a new entrant into this thing we do, that the KISS approach seems actually prudent.
If a person buys bees and then decides to go treatment free, by all means do so, and they will have my admiration for their attempt. But if their bees die 2 years in a row as a result, I would hope they don't espouse the reason as it being I sell "crappy bees."
If TBH's were really as successful as some allude to, there should be folks that have them that would be willing to make a small business selling TBH nucs, but I have yet to see even one.
I'm glad this thread got revived though. Discussion is what this place is all about. This year I have not sold any bees to TBH users, although I do have a few on my swarm list. I have hived any swarms I've caught this year to build my own numbers.
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Offline Robo

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Re: Keeping options open!
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2015, 10:27:03 pm »
As often discussed,  climate plays a big role in beekeeping.   Although horizontal TBH can thrive where the climate is mild, they do not fair as well in cold climates.   When given the choice, bees will build their nest in a vertical fashion, which better allows them to survive in harsher climates.   By being vertical, they start the winter with all the stores above them, as winter progresses, they simply move up without having to break cluster.  As heat rises,  the new stores above them are preheated as they move up.  Horizontal TBHs require the bees to break cluster to move from comb to comb as they progress forward or backwards in the hive.   Long stretches of extreme cold can cause them the starve if they can't move to another comb.   I have many years of experience with both Langstroth and TBHs (vertical and horizontal) and no longer try to keep horizontal TBH and recommend my students against them as well.   I have no issue with the principal of TBHs and have kept a few Warre hives for close to 10 years.  As others have mentioned,  the Langstroth offers so many advantages when it comes to purchasing bees, purchasing equipment, ease of inspections/manipulations, ease of honey extracting, and salvage/reuse of comb.   I have been treatment free for close to 10 years as well, simply by providing breaks in brood.

The biggest thing I run into with folks who are TBH fanatics is the mis-belief that the more primitive the hive, the more "natural" it is.  As I start every new beekeeper class with the statement that there is nothing natural about beekeeping.  A truly natural feral hive is never opened up, never has it's interior exposed to light,  and never has it sent and heat dissipated by being exposed.   Not to mention the fact that feral colonies attempt to eliminate all ventilation accept the entrance hole (at least here in the Northeast) and the most emphasized practice by beekeepers is ventilate, ventilate, ventilate.

Beekeeping can be very discouraging when failure occurs and often people get frustrated and throw in the towel.  At least here in the Northeast,  beginners have a much higher success rate if they start with Langstroth's.

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Offline LazyBkpr

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Re: Keeping options open!
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2015, 11:08:02 pm »
Perry and Robo covered it well..  In Hawaii your TBH may be the way to go, it is just a bit difficult to manage through the harder winters around here.
   I am one of those advocates of starting simple and learning the "basics" of a known method that works. If you have a mentor that knows Top bar hives then I am certain he or she can provide you with that known method. There are a few on here that have Top bar Hives and they can probably help you if you have issues as well.
   The advice remains the same, Langstroth, or TBH..  learn what works in your neck of the woods, get the basics down to a science so that you understand them in that first year or two, and then if you wish to tread down the path less traveled, I DO HOPE you will tell us of of your exploits so we can learn from you!
   Scott
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Offline pistolpete

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Re: Keeping options open!
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2015, 03:28:29 am »
At least two of the Nucs that I sold this year went to TBH keeps.  They just use an oscillating saw to cut off the bottom corners of the frame to make them fit.   SInce those bottom corners rarely have any brood in them anyway, it's not much of a loss. 

Shannarose:  I don't believe that we are knocking TBH hives per se, but we are trying to point new bee keepers in the direction that is most likely to meet with success.  The type of equipment you use has very little to do with whether your bees will thrive treatment free.  A lang hive with worker size foundation exists in a state of permanently reduced drone numbers, and so varroa mites have slightly lower reproductive success.  SHB thrive in a hive that is not strong enough to police the entire interior of the hive, again, that has very little to do with the type of equipment you have.   For reasons others have stated, TB hives work better in tropical regions than temperate ones and that is probably the main reason they are not more popular.    If you read through some of the histories of bee keeping, there have been many many varieties of hives tried, and the Lang and it's cousins have stood the test of time for over a hundred years.
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Offline efmesch

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Re: Keeping options open!
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2015, 05:36:35 am »
I've seen swarms that have settled down in trees and built nice sized "natural" hives out in the open.  It seems to me that "hives in the wild" could be considered the most natural of hives.  How come no organic keeps are recommending raising bees in the wild?  :no: :no:
Or are they?   ;D  :D

Offline Ray

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Re: Keeping options open!
« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2015, 08:21:35 am »
Keeping bees in a wild state? Isn't that an oxymoron?  :laugh:

IMO the main reason Beeks use Lang's is; Standardization.
I use all medium Lang's with narrow frames (1 1/4) and that makes for creative Beekeeping when everyone around me uses deeps.
IMO: Perry shows some Yankee  O:-)  Ingenuity with his TB nucs. 

Not picking on anybody, just a shot from the peanut gallery.

Offline efmesch

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Re: Keeping options open!
« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2015, 11:21:57 am »
Ray says: "IMO the main reason Beeks use Lang's is; Standardization. "

Ef begs to differ.  There is not just one  "main" reason why beeks use Langstroths. there are many, because they provide the ideal environment in which to efficiently raise bees: 

Langstroth hives wisely utilize  the "bee space" principle (thus enabling easy shifting of the frames' positions according to need);
they allow for easily enlarging or reducing the size of the hive according to the needs of the family as it changes size over the course of the seasons;
they provide an adequate area in which the queen can be occupied steadily, laying eggs for the three week development cycle, not forcing her to go into the honey storage area; 
they enable easy examination of the hive and treatments when necessary. 

There are several more reason I have not mentioned (there are "too many" to list).  There is no denying that families of bees can be encouraged/managed  to reach much greater populations in Langstroth hives than they ever could if raised in hollow tree trunks, double walls of houses, etc. 

As a result of raising larger populations, the hives become more efficient at collecting nectar and pollen, and, of course, in storing excess honey that the beekeeper can harvest.
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Offline brooksbeefarm

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Re: Keeping options open!
« Reply #16 on: July 07, 2015, 01:44:32 pm »
 :nice: :agree: Jack