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Author Topic: Recommended TBH type for newbie with back issues  (Read 1515 times)

Offline Steampunked

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Recommended TBH type for newbie with back issues
« on: April 28, 2015, 02:08:25 am »
Hello folks.

As people can see from my lack of presence, I'm new to the whole bee keeping thing - please forgive the misspellings and mistakes.  I've done an offline course in Langstroth keeping and read a large number of books, however I have a couple of questions before I look at acquiring my hives over winter and installing the packages in the spring.

Top Bar Hives attract me because they seem faster to build than the other types - and any hive I get has to be hand made due to costs.  I also found a full Langstroth super very, very hard to hold up.  We have a workshop here, left over wood, and supplies, but we don't have ready cash.  Both I and my partner can use a router and create cabinetry so hives seem to be reasonable by comparison.

However, both I and my partner also have back issues - I'm around 5'2" and have a bad back because pregnancy is evil.  The most detailed plans I can find are for Warre hives, but I have no idea how on earth I'd lift a full two supers to nadir them - I can just about manage my 20 kilo kid, but unless it's a bad day, she's not stinging me.

Can you lift one super at a time with a warre hive, or is that not recommended?

Given that I have woodworking skills, what would be the best sort of hive for someone short with a bad back?  I'm fairly strong, but if I 'push' it I get locked into place and can't move myself, which sounds not great if I've just dropped a lot of now-angry bees due to said bad back.
Kept by a tiny miniature suburban farm by chickens, parrots, a wallaby, a 3.5 year old and my partner.

Offline little john

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Re: Recommended TBH type for newbie with back issues
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2015, 04:37:00 am »
A bad back with woodworking skills suggests to me:

Horizontal Top Bar Hives : fixed position hives with no lifting of any boxes whatsoever. They are - without doubt - the simplest, quickest and cheapest of all hives to build. They can be built on stands to be at whatever height is convenient for you. Plenty of sources of info on the Internet - Michael Bush's site is always a good place to start.

Warre Hives - the purists do indeed lift an entire intact stack of boxes in order to nadir another box at the bottom, and usually make themselves some kind of fork-lift style lifting contraption in order to accomplish this - but there's a much simpler way.

There's a guy on the 'barefoot site' who runs 100+ Warre's semi-commercially, who carries a fold-up bench which he lays down next to the hive to be nadired. As each box is removed from the top, it is placed on it's side on this bench 'in order', so that they can be replaced on top of the nadired box in exactly the same order as they were removed.

Thus, the combs themselves are not disturbed - which is really what matters - and a quick inspection of the underside of each box (to check for stores, queen cells etc) can easily be made during the nadiring process.

Although the 'standard' Warre box is around 200mm deep, this is actually half the height of Warre's original design. His assistants complained about the weight of the 400mm tall boxes, so he simply cut 'em in half.
The Russians, having discovered Roger Delon's adaptation of Warre's Hive, then decided to halve the box height once again - to around 108mm (4").

I've worked with these 4" high boxes, and the bees have absolutely no trouble working with such short combs - they just build a lot of them ! Such shallow boxes would be a dream to work with for anyone with a bad back (imo). Again - lifting 'em off one at a time is perfectly ok - although Warre purists might tell you otherwise.

You might also think about running Langstroths, but using half-width boxes ... ?

LJ
A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping - http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com

Offline JConnolly

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Re: Recommended TBH type for newbie with back issues
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2015, 06:48:24 pm »
I built 8 frame Langstroth mediums.   They are the same length as a normal Langstroth but they are only 350mm wide (310mm inside width) and hold eight medium size frames and weigh considerably less at around 22kg.  I have decided to add a Warre to my apiary next year just to try out something different and the design appealed to me more than a TBH, but lifting it once or twice a summer is not a problem right now as I have two tall strong teenage sons.

Here are some free plans for a TBH.  PDF Download.

If you do decide on a Warre, you can also make a lift for a Warre type hive.  If you do a google search for Warre lift you'll see lots of different ideas.  Here are the plans for one lift.  There are many others.


(If you can add your location to your profile it would be helpful - I posted using metric units because you mentioned weight in kilos, but you put your height in imperial units so I really have no idea what system to use. )
« Last Edit: April 28, 2015, 06:59:55 pm by JConnolly »

Offline Maggiesdad

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Re: Recommended TBH type for newbie with back issues
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2015, 07:12:47 pm »
bad back = KTBH/TTBH/Long Lang for the win

Offline Colobee

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Re: Recommended TBH type for newbie with back issues
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2015, 11:28:42 pm »
A good way to move heavy supers is one frame at a time. 'Not recommended if you have a lot of hives, but it's an option! I run all medium 10 frame Langs. I'm transitioning in some 8 frame mediums. A 10 frame medium full of honey can be a quite a handful!

I've gotten incredible relief from a recently purchased inversion table. I think it just added another 20 years to my beekeeping
"career" (my back is feeling 30 years "younger").
The bees usually fix my mistakes

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Recommended TBH type for newbie with back issues
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2015, 03:20:24 pm »
Nadiring is far too much work...  if you are trying to avoid lifting boxes, then never do it...
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm  em portugues:  bushfarms.com/pt_bees.htm
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Offline Steampunked

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Re: Recommended TBH type for newbie with back issues
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2015, 08:02:39 pm »
Hello, all.

Great information here - sorry about the units, I was raised to think in weight I kilos and height in feet, which means I never get it right!  I am a fat and unfit middle aged woman with a sprightly 3.5 year old, who would LOVE mummy to be strapped into an inversion table while she had her textas out...

I am in Melbourne, Australia, so it is Autumn, which means a few months available to construct a hive from the resources you have given me - I will avoid nadiring, yes.  I keep having visions of dropping a box on my feet.

Eventually I will have a strong teenage daughter to assist (partner is 6'4, so she'll be taller than me before she's 10), but for now I will build a TBH.  We are likely to build a lift in future if things work out as well as the chicken and veggie/orchard experiment has, as Warre does still appeal.

I'll start with building two in case I screw up on something.  I have access to a 3D printer and can design and build a lot of things for oddly shaped entrances, and then get them printed in steel or aluminium cheaply (or hard plastic at home) which is another interesting avenue to explore...once I work out the basics.

If that works, I may experiment with other types.  I'm not reliant on any particular output, this is for personal pleasure and polination, mostly, as I have an orchard and large flower garden to maintain.
Kept by a tiny miniature suburban farm by chickens, parrots, a wallaby, a 3.5 year old and my partner.