10 Days After Move-in

I was originally planing on going to check out the hives on Sat., but it was rainy and cold (cold for NC that is – 60 degrees). Since that wouldn’t be the best weather to open up the hives in, I help off. On top of that, I got nastily sick over the weekend. I am starting to feel better, but still not all the way back. I ender up going out to check on things this afternoon since it was 70 degrees and sunny.

I mixed up a gallon of 1:1 sugar syrup, but absentmindedly felt it on my kitchen counter. I’ll have to drop by again to refill their feeders.

Before I did anything else with the hives, I smeared a circle of marine bearing grease around each leg of both hives. This is supposed to provide a barrier to keep the ants out, and was easier than putting cans of water or oil under each leg. We’ll see how well it works, but I have high hopes. When I opened the hives though, most of the ant problem seemed to be gone. I’m sure they will be back though given the chance. (maybe the wet weather keeps them at home?)

As I normally do, I started with hive 1. They still had some syrup, but not much. I removed a few top-bars at the back of the hive (or the back of the space they can use) and took a picture by sticking the camera down into the opening. It gives an interesting view.

The bees had built significant come on the first 6 top-bars, and appeared to be working on the 7th. For reference I am calling the top-bar closest to the entrance bar 1, counting up from there. Once I got home, I realized that I must have missed taking a picture of one of the bars (#2 maybe?). Oops. Oh well. Here they are in all their glory (starting at bar 6, going to bar1).

I think they have done a pretty good amount of work in ten days. They were also very calm and gentle with me. 🙂 Best of all, on the very last bar I checked (bar #1) I saw a nice blue dot. Without even having to try, I found the queen (I wasn’t really planning on looking for her).

I carefully close up hive #1 and moved on to hive #2. Hive #2 had cleaned its feeder completely and was out of syrup. They were also building at about the same pace as hive #1, and have significant comb on 6 top-bars. I started with top-bar 6, and saw a blue spot again. 🙂

I guess I was just really lucky today. I never would have seen them without the paint though, marking definitely helps there. I went on to check top-bars 4 and 5, but stopped that that point. The wind was picking up a little, and I decided to leave the girls alone. I’m happy with their progress, and figured I shouldn’t bother them any more. I go back an give them some more sugar syrup as soon as possible.

All in all, it was a good day with the bees. I saw both queens, both hives are building nicely, and both hives were very calm (still no stings! 🙂 ).

6 Responses to “10 Days After Move-in”

  1. Bug Girl Says:

    This is very cool–thanks for documenting it!
    One question–if I’m understanding the top bar concept, the bees make their own comb, rather than working from pre-pressed was sheets.

    But how do you super a hive as it grows?

  2. kawayanan Says:

    Your right, the bees make their own comb free hanging from the bars. The hives won’t be supered like normal hives.

    I currently have a follower board in the hive that gives them 13 top-bars to work with. They normally (hopefully) want to keep their broodnest together in one area. This would mean that their broodnest should use the bars toward the entrance end (where they are now). As they build up, I can move the follower board giving them more room (or remove it all together). The full hive has 30 top-bars. Since their broodnest should be at one end, they will use space at the other (back) end to build combs for storing honey. These combs from the back that should be just for honey storage would be what I would harvest. Since size of the hive cannot simply be expanded by adding supers however, I may need to be more careful to make sure that they do not get completely full (which could make them want to swarm). This means that top-bar hives can require smaller, more frequent harvests (a full capped honey comb is just cut out and the bar returned for the bees to work on again).

    Thanks for the question

  3. Bug Girl Says:

    so, where did the concept come from?
    (is there a “origin of top bar” post I’m just too dense to find? 🙂 )

  4. kawayanan Says:

    No, I didn’t make a post about where the idea came from. Maybe I should have.

    Top-bar hives are a very old idea. The original ones were probably just baskets with sticks across the top. The basic design most people use today are usually thought to come from Africa. They are normally called Kenyan (with sloped sides – like mine) or Tanzanian (with straight sides). You can check out Wikipedia’s Top-bar hive page for more info. I got a huge amount of info when I got interested in top-bar hives (and beekeeping in general) on Michael Bush’s web page and Dennis Murrell’s web page. Both sites have lots of info on top-bar and alternative hive designs, and beekeeping in general. (there are also some more links on my sidebar)

  5. Daniel Says:

    hey, my question is what is the best type of weather that is good for rearing bees for commercial purposes? thank you so much in advance.

  6. kawayanan Says:

    What type of weather is best for bees? I’m no expert, but I would say whatever weather is best for the nectar producing plants. Bees survive pretty well in lots of climates. For commercial purposes, the biggest factor is probably the amount of available forage (assuming honey is the objective as opposed to pollination).

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