Yesterday Jennifer from Buck Naked Farm came by and she and I moved bees from my top bar hives into her traditional Langstroth style hives. The weather, which had looked questionable turned out to be just perfect and the bees behaved surprisingly well considering we tore apart and restored their entire homes. The whole process felt like moving into the dorms the first year of college. Lots of organized chaos.
We had to take the fully built out comb from the top bar hives and cut it to fit into the traditional frames. In this picture you can se the drone comb on the right where the comb is built bigger than the rest. This is something you don’t see in a Langstroth hive because the wax is already drawn and the bees use the size that is provided. This is part of what is attractive about a top bar hive, it lets the bees do what comes natural to them. The down side of the top bar hives is we had to combine two hives that were not going to make it, and rehive another hive that probably wouldn’t have made it through the winter either. Three out of four hives didn’t have a chance. The hives they are in now will allow for much more management and a better success rate for the bees. Maybe they won’t be fulfilled emotionally, but they will be alive, so that’s something.
Here you can see the Langstroth hives in the foreground, and the old top bar hives right in the background.
We chose to leave the strongest hive in place as they seem to be doing very well. Everyone else was moved to new digs and given sugar water. Next week when we check on the rest of the bees and refill the feeders, we’ll also break open this hive and take a look inside to make sure of how they are doing.