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Author Topic: Commercial Top Bar Hives  (Read 1225 times)

Offline FatherMichael

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Commercial Top Bar Hives
« on: August 13, 2019, 08:27:46 pm »
If a man wanted 1000 hives to make tons of honey how would top bar hives figure into such an operation?

Online FloridaGardener

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Re: Commercial Top Bar Hives
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2019, 10:22:31 pm »
Hmm. How would or how could TBHs work.   
          Is the reason for not using Lang hives the expense, since top bar hives can be made of scrap wood?

1000 hives:

1. I've heard it said that after about 50 hives in the same location, productivity dwindles due to forage limitations for those 50 colonies.  So 1000 hives would require securing 20 locations at a minimum, five miles apart, assuming adequate forage for each site.

2. Construct hives and movable frames of uniform size and side angles, so that every part is interchangeable between all hives.  Construct adequate accessories such as nuc/mating boxes, IPM trays, robbing screens, telescoping lids, hive stands, quilt boxes, etc. as needed for climate/region. Make certain the wooden quadrangle frames for the TBH can fit in a radial extractor for the harvest.

3. Train staff to fabricate, maintain, inspect, and repair all equipment including protective gear for beekeepers.  Maintenance prolongs utility = savings.

4. Train the large staff needed to manage such a scale of beekeeping.
http://leeming-consulting.com/SchoolNet/courses/beekeeping1.0/index.html

5. Obtain adequate vehicle to transport staff, equipment, and to relocate colony splits.

6. Use a mobile 10x30 wedding tent (or PVC pipe-framed tent) with sidewall screens and 2-stage door (like a butterfly conservatory) to extract reasonably close to hive locations, provided potable water is nearby for washup.  Set up a bottling or barreling system.

                    That's just a start.  There's probably more.  Like a CPA/payroll, etc.

Offline FatherMichael

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Re: Commercial Top Bar Hives
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2019, 07:25:38 am »

Make certain the wooden quadrangle frames for the TBH can fit in a radial extractor for the harvest.


Thanks, Florida!

You provided excellent business and management advice.  Do you mind if I put your post in some notes I'm keeping?

The extractor would need a modified bottom to fit quadrangle frames, right?, but what if the combs were just dangling from top bars as per usual?  Could the crush and strain method be used on a commercial scale?

Lop off the comb into a barrel and haul it back to the honey house for processing?

Offline cao

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Re: Commercial Top Bar Hives
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2019, 12:30:58 am »
Hmm. How would or how could TBHs work.   
          Is the reason for not using Lang hives the expense, since top bar hives can be made of scrap wood?

1000 hives:

1. I've heard it said that after about 50 hives in the same location, productivity dwindles due to forage limitations for those 50 colonies.  So 1000 hives would require securing 20 locations at a minimum, five miles apart, assuming adequate forage for each site.

2. Construct hives and movable frames of uniform size and side angles, so that every part is interchangeable between all hives.  Construct adequate accessories such as nuc/mating boxes, IPM trays, robbing screens, telescoping lids, hive stands, quilt boxes, etc. as needed for climate/region. Make certain the wooden quadrangle frames for the TBH can fit in a radial extractor for the harvest.

3. Train staff to fabricate, maintain, inspect, and repair all equipment including protective gear for beekeepers.  Maintenance prolongs utility = savings.

4. Train the large staff needed to manage such a scale of beekeeping.
http://leeming-consulting.com/SchoolNet/courses/beekeeping1.0/index.html

5. Obtain adequate vehicle to transport staff, equipment, and to relocate colony splits.

6. Use a mobile 10x30 wedding tent (or PVC pipe-framed tent) with sidewall screens and 2-stage door (like a butterfly conservatory) to extract reasonably close to hive locations, provided potable water is nearby for washup.  Set up a bottling or barreling system.

                    That's just a start.  There's probably more.  Like a CPA/payroll, etc.

1 agreed
2 quicker and easier using crush and strain with foundationless comb.
3 it definitely would not be a one man operation, traditional top bar hives should be relatively easy to maintain.
4 yes your help would need to know how to keep bees.
5 a good pickup truck would work for most of your needs.
6 if using crush and strain, just shake the bees off the comb, take a sharp knife and cut it off and put it in a bucket with a lid.  Once the bucket is full take back to your honey processing place to strain and bottle.




Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Commercial Top Bar Hives
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2019, 10:18:44 am »
It's much easier to manage 1000 langstroth hives.  The upside of the Top Bar Hives would be the cost (assuming you built them yourself out of scrap wood).  but you have to manage the space more carefully since it's a fixed size hive.
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Offline FatherMichael

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Re: Commercial Top Bar Hives
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2019, 10:19:39 am »
6 if using crush and strain, just shake the bees off the comb, take a sharp knife and cut it off and put it in a bucket with a lid.  Once the bucket is full take back to your honey processing place to strain and bottle.

That makes sense.  Thank you!

Does anyone do this on a commercial scale?


Offline FatherMichael

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Re: Commercial Top Bar Hives
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2019, 10:35:10 am »
It's much easier to manage 1000 langstroth hives.  The upside of the Top Bar Hives would be the cost (assuming you built them yourself out of scrap wood).  but you have to manage the space more carefully since it's a fixed size hive.

Thanks, Michael.

I'm an amputee (left leg above the knee); so, bending over a Langstroth, as I've discovered in my back yard this season, and lifting supers is not in my future (nor are 1000 hives (I was being hypothetical)).

Looking at top bar or long Lang hives, which would put the work at a doable level.

I hate the uncapping step.  Ugh.

Dreaming of an extractor in which you dump in the honey comb, turn it on, and start bottling!  LOL

Online sawdstmakr

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Re: Commercial Top Bar Hives
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2019, 10:43:08 am »
Dr Wyatt A. Magnum did it. Here is a link to his site:
https://www.tbhsbywam.com/author/
He was a speaker at the Florida Bee College many years go that I attended. He spoke about his migratory top bar hives and about usurpation.
He is a very good speaker. 
Jim Altmiller

Online sawdstmakr

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Re: Commercial Top Bar Hives
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2019, 11:02:37 am »
Father Michael,
Quote, Dreaming of an extractor in which you dump in the honey comb, turn it on, and start bottling!  LOL

Time to design one. I think a top loading washing machine could be modified to do the job. You would have to place the comb evenly around the drum and use the spin cycle to extract the honey. You would need to clean the drain motor and connections really well and I would replace the drain hose with a new one.
Jim Altmiller

Offline FatherMichael

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Re: Commercial Top Bar Hives
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2019, 11:50:07 am »
Thanks for the Wyatt Mangum site, Jim.

Just reviewed the regulations for processing foods in Texas.  Have a decision to make about the scale of my project.

Online FloridaGardener

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Re: Commercial Top Bar Hives
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2019, 12:36:32 pm »
Modified washing machine - yes!

For crush & strain, I'd thought about a modified wine press.

     A friend developed a special machine to remove commercial glued-down carpet.  He started with a self-propelled lawn mower and rebuilt it.  When he had it right, he sold the design.  Mechanical engineers, out there...?  Washing machines and wine presses are waiting for your expertise!

Re: pickup truck as vehicle for 1000 hives.  In US, yes. 
      In most countries on the planet, a cargo van or minibus with a screen to keep bees in the back would be better. 
This, because of the need to safely move people, protect cargo from billowing dust on unpaved roads, toxic vehicle exhaust (no catalytic converters), theft at intersections, insect attacks, and weather problems. In the west African continent there's a dust storm for many months called Harmattan, which daily deposits a seemingly large amount of the Saharan desert into your tightly closed-up house.  Elsewhere, day-to-day realities include torrential rains, subzero temps, or heat that can melt wax. Yet beekeeping can happen there, with the right setup.

In crush & strain v. extracting, a few of the factors to consider are:
      Is cut comb honey worth more? Can it be processed fast enough to avoid fermentation?
      How much more bee-labor is involved, if flow time is short (comb building) and keeper does not feed?
      How much more people-labor is involved, to crush and filter, and clean inevitable clogs?
      What can be done about high water content, if there is no spin time to regulate percentage?
      How much is the investment for extraction tools?

And, a question on these hypothetical 1000 hives presents itself: whether large-scale livestock farms with seasonal employees are really more efficient than small-scale farmers who are financially and emotionally invested in their own success: a variation on the "teach a man to fish" idea.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2019, 01:44:19 pm by FloridaGardener »

Offline FatherMichael

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Re: Commercial Top Bar Hives
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2019, 04:22:29 pm »
Thanks, Florida!  Some things to think about on my trip today.  I've been asked to speak on the religious and philosophical premises of the US Constitution at the Republican Women of Lubbock County.  Have a committee meeting to discuss it this evening.

I've been thinking that wax is a product of the bees for candles and lotions (my wife uses lotion by the gallons) plus I want to try my hand at Ye Olde Meade.

Offline CoolBees

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Re: Commercial Top Bar Hives
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2019, 10:47:20 pm »
Just from a purely business perspective - if there are any additional  "headaches" with Top Bar Hives (as compared to std langstroth) - those headaches need to be calculated for cost, and compared to the savings in Wooden Ware that the TB might offer.

But FatherMichael, it sounds like your reasons for looking into TB has more to it than just pure cost.
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Offline cao

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Re: Commercial Top Bar Hives
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2019, 12:13:44 am »

I'm an amputee (left leg above the knee); so, bending over a Langstroth, as I've discovered in my back yard this season, and lifting supers is not in my future (nor are 1000 hives (I was being hypothetical)).

Looking at top bar or long Lang hives, which would put the work at a doable level.

I have five long hives, 4 started this year, 1 started the previous year.  They could work out for you if you need the interchange ability with standard hives.  Mine are 4 ft. long.  There is no need for supers and all the frames are at waist level.  No bending or lifting heavy supers. 


Offline Brub58

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Re: Commercial Top Bar Hives
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2019, 12:45:33 am »
If you want something where you dump it in, turn it on, and put it in a bottle, look at a bladder press for wine or cider. I?ve got a 40lt press for winemaking and use it for cappings from my frame hives and comb from topbars. Drop it all in inside a stained bag, turn on the tap to inflate the bladder and you can run it straight into your bottles. Plus the wax is pretty much dry.

Offline FatherMichael

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Re: Commercial Top Bar Hives
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2019, 10:09:48 am »
It's much easier to manage 1000 langstroth hives.  The upside of the Top Bar Hives would be the cost (assuming you built them yourself out of scrap wood).  but you have to manage the space more carefully since it's a fixed size hive.

Thanks, Michael.

Yes, I am a wood worker and would build/have built equipment myself, though fabricating frames seems tedious.

Offline FatherMichael

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Re: Commercial Top Bar Hives
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2019, 10:16:22 am »
But FatherMichael, it sounds like your reasons for looking into TB has more to it than just pure cost.

Thanks, Cool.  Yes the physical challenge of working the hives is the greater consideration.

Offline FatherMichael

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Re: Commercial Top Bar Hives
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2019, 10:21:58 am »
If you want something where you dump it in, turn it on, and put it in a bottle, look at a bladder press for wine or cider. I?ve got a 40lt press for winemaking and use it for cappings from my frame hives and comb from topbars. Drop it all in inside a stained bag, turn on the tap to inflate the bladder and you can run it straight into your bottles. Plus the wax is pretty much dry.

Thanks, Brub.  I looked it up.  Worth considering.

Offline FatherMichael

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Re: Commercial Top Bar Hives
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2019, 10:31:22 am »

I'm an amputee (left leg above the knee); so, bending over a Langstroth, as I've discovered in my back yard this season, and lifting supers is not in my future (nor are 1000 hives (I was being hypothetical)).

Looking at top bar or long Lang hives, which would put the work at a doable level.

I have five long hives, 4 started this year, 1 started the previous year.  They could work out for you if you need the interchange ability with standard hives.  Mine are 4 ft. long.  There is no need for supers and all the frames are at waist level.  No bending or lifting heavy supers.

Long Langs are beginning to make a lot of sense to me.

I''m trying to avoid all the steps of extracting in favor of a crush and strain approach that yields also a wax harvet.  I assume one could go foundationless in a long Lang.

Sorry if my questions are elementary.  It has been a long time since I had bees.

Offline cao

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Re: Commercial Top Bar Hives
« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2019, 11:30:33 am »
Yes you could easily go foundationless in a long hive.  If fact probably half my frames are.  I just use a starter strip.  You could easily just cut the comb out if you wanted to do crush and strain.