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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 18th year of beekeeping in April 2023. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

Even if you find one post on the subject, I've posted a lot on basic beekeeping skills like installing bees, harvesting honey, inspecting the hive, etc. so be sure to search for more once you've found a topic of interest to you. And watch the useful videos and slide shows on the sidebar. All of them have captions. Please share posts of interest via Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a
Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mixed News from the Top Bar Hive

I had an early afternoon today at the office so I left and drove to Valerie's house to check out the top bar hive. The hive was full of bees, no small hive beetles at all in the hive and the bees looked healthy and enthusiastic. I didn't use smoke and could have worked without gloves - next time I will. These are very calm bees.

The mixed news is that the hive was full of bees, eggs, young brood and capped brood but no honey. It didn't look as if it had been robbed or anything - just that they had no stores. Valerie and Jeff's yard backs up to a huge mess of kudzu in their neighbor's back yard. The kudzu is about to burst into bloom and is a great nectar source. I decided to wait until next weekend to decide if I should feed them or not.

The hive occupied ten bars of the top bar hive. They had done a strange thing. They had built comb in the bottom of the hive - on top of the screened bottom. I thought maybe they had stored honey there, but the photo below of the comb lying in the bottom of the hive is full of empty cells. I did see lots of pollen.

Below is one of the prettier brood combs. These are small cell bees from Don K in Lula and you can see the smaller cells they build for brood in this photo.

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  1. Comb on the bottom of the hive is normally the result of "comb failure" Or comb that has fallen from the topbar. The bees will try to use it if they can. It is best to just remove it. I see that they have a little "cross combing" That also needs to be addressed or it will become impossilbe to get into the hive without destroying most of it. Topbar hives are a bit more work.

    Oh and by the way. I have decided to abandon the grove only topbar. I will use some kind of guide. I am thinking popsicle stick. especially on the sides. Like I said before it is not an issue once the comb is established and straight but my bees keep turning the ends across the bars. This just makes it difficult to inspect.

  2. All of my bars have popsicle stick guides.

  3. Like you said, the cross comb you see in the pictures is the same thing - my bees turn the ends across the bars and I break the comb there every time. I am not worried about comb nearly as much as I am about the total lack of honey in this hive.

  4. Linda, any interest in participating in a beekeeping question and answer site?
    A site is trying to start at Area51, a webservice that helps people build question and answer sites in their area of interest. I thought you might be interested.
    Here's the site link:

    Best wishes,


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