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Author Topic: Guidance needed 55 Gallon top bar barrel  (Read 2308 times)

Offline RaMerc

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Guidance needed 55 Gallon top bar barrel
« on: May 28, 2015, 01:21:09 pm »
I need some help from those who maintain or are familiar with the 55 gallon top bar barrel hives. I'm currently in the process of researching this type of hive and plan to start construction soon. I live in North central Florida near Gainesville, while we don't have very harsh winters the occasional freeze can happen, and our summers can be brutal. This is my introduction to beekeeping so I'm still not 100% sure on how bees will handle either season in this type of hive which leads to me questions.

My first question is in regards to ventilation of the hive. I have read a few different articles, and suggestions on forums about this type of hive and proper ventilation for it. I don't want the bees to cook or have a meltdown on a hot summer day and like wise freeze during one of our rare freak cold days. Some have suggested drilling two to three holes in the bottom of the barrel and I even found a few that cut a long vent down the center of the bottom. Which would be better for the bees in my area? I want them to have enough ventilation to stay cool or warm but I don't want to create extra work for them or for them to have a problem sealing or regulating the air flow through the hive due to the number of vent holes and/or the size of them.

My second question is about insulation for much of the same reasons as my first question(heating and cooling). I have read suggestions about placing a few inches of insulation between the roof and the top bars. Is this a good idea to help or is it overkill? I don't want to invest in this only to lose most if not all of my hive when it could have been avoided from the start. I included a few pictures of the venting and roofing that I found to help highlight my questions.

If anyone has any experience or can assist me with solutions to these questions i would be very appreciative.

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Offline Robo

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Re: Guidance needed 55 Gallon top bar barrel
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2015, 04:09:52 pm »
Not to discourage you,  but barrel hives (or even horizontal TBHs) are not the best options for new beekeepers.  There is a big myth that more primitive is more natural.   By nature, bees build vertical nests not horizontal.   This is less important in a warm climate than in cold climates.   Easily being able to move up comb to stores and not break cluster. 

As far as insulation in the winter,  I overwintered my barrel hive with just a 7 watt night light,  so i don't think you need to worry about additional insulation.  Although not has hot as your climate,  we do get days in the high 90's and I never had issue.  I would just suggest keeping it out of afternoon sun.

Personally, if you want to go top bar,  I would strongly recommend a Warre hive.


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Offline RaMerc

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Re: Guidance needed 55 Gallon top bar barrel
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2015, 05:41:20 pm »
Thanks for the info Robo, that article was a good read. The main reason I was going for the barrel hive was because it was a good project for my daughters to help me with and it seemed like the less expensive way to get a hive up and going. I'm going to do some research on the Ware hives that you suggested, so I can way our options. I would still like to be able to build it ourselves, so do you happen to know of anywhere I could find the schematics on a Ware hive? Thanks again.

Offline Robo

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Re: Guidance needed 55 Gallon top bar barrel
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2015, 07:07:29 pm »
Warre hives are definitely something you can build.    There is no better way to learn about Warre hive than from his book.  Definitely worth the read even if you go a different route.
 
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Offline crazzy_426

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Re: Guidance needed 55 Gallon top bar barrel
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2015, 03:39:10 pm »
I built these two this spring. I put bees in one but not the other. They are the first hives that I have ever had but I would not build them again. I did them this way because I had the stuff to build them, but looking back i should have done something else. I did drill 2 in holes in the bottom.

Offline Eric Bosworth

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Re: Guidance needed 55 Gallon top bar barrel
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2015, 09:50:47 pm »
Robo if a hollow tree falls over in the woods wouldn't that be pretty close to the same configuration as a top bar hive? As far as "natural" hive configuration goes... Bees will set up house keeping in any crevice that is the right size. So I don't know what natural hives are. I think the barrel hive might be to big that you have comb collapse.
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Offline Robo

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Re: Guidance needed 55 Gallon top bar barrel
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2015, 10:18:58 pm »
Robo if a hollow tree falls over in the woods wouldn't that be pretty close to the same configuration as a top bar hive?
True,  but the only feral colonies I have seen in fallen over trees have been ones that where established before the tree fell.  It has also been my experience, that in general, these fallen tree colonies don't survive as long as standing tree colonies.  Of course there are always exceptions.
Quote
As far as "natural" hive configuration goes... Bees will set up house keeping in any crevice that is the right size. So I don't know what natural hives are.
Bees are survivors and will do what ever they can to stay alive.  If given a choice I would bet they choose a hollow standing tree over a fallen one.  They will choose the best "available" cavity they can find.  The best "available"  doesn't necessarily correlate to a good one.
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I think the barrel hive might be to big that you have comb collapse.
When left alone,  I never had comb collapse with the barrel hive.   The only comb collapse I have experienced has been when moving them,  not just TBH, but hives with foundationless as well.
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Offline Eric Bosworth

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Re: Guidance needed 55 Gallon top bar barrel
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2015, 08:13:03 am »
Fair enough... but I can't imagine having a hive and not looking at it once in a while. Also I have to believe that it gets hotter in Florida than it does in the Catskills. Theoretically the bees should be able to cool it. Theory and reality are not always the same.
All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The communist party must command all the guns; that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party. ---Mao Tse Tung

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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Guidance needed 55 Gallon top bar barrel
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2015, 10:24:33 am »
> By nature, bees build vertical nests not horizontal.   This is less important in a warm climate than in cold climates.

And yet horizontal hives are the tradition hive of Russia and all of Scandanavia and, according to Eva Crane, was always, and still is the most popular configuration in the world.  I over winter some top bar hives every winter.  And I'm NOT in Florida...
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