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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 16th year of beekeeping in April 2021. 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.

Need help with an Atlanta area swarm? Visit Found a Swarm? Call a Beekeeper. (678) 597-8443

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The ongoing Tale of the Top Bar

So I opened the top bar to find an entire ant colony camped out on the top of the top bars.  I brushed them all off with my bee brush, but I kept feeling distracted by ants on my hands.  I like the feel of bees walking on my hands, but ants are another story.  Maybe I should sprinkle cinnamon on the tops of the top bars.

The bees were doing about a B+ job of building comb.  There was some jutting out inappropriately.  One set of two combs - the first two, actually, were joined together.  Comb three on bar three was a little crooked as well.

I tried to straighten it out, but later today thought I might go in and reverse the bar.  I think that would confuse the bees but would at least put a straight comb in position three going forward.  The combs on four and more were not built out to the ends yet, so were straight in the center.

At first looking at the brood on the comb below, I was concerned about the green in the bottom of some of the cells, but now in looking further at the photo, I think the green is grass showing through holes of incomplete cells….at least I hope that's what it is.

Here is one of the bulging combs - probably the one I will reverse (comb three)….so once again, the top bar is challenging me even though it is in my own backyard and more accessible for keeping up with it.

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  2. Really like your blog! I am researching top bar hives and came across your discussion. Don't have one yet, but getting one soon. Hope to use it on my next swarm removal.


  3. Linda,

    I installed bees in my new top bar on Saturday, package bees. Saw a SHB on Monday already in there. Monday I caught a huge swarm and set them in a 10 frame deep, moving along awesomely. Good luck with the top bar keep us posted.

  4. I have been keeping a top bar hive for over a year now and have found that it is most important for my hive to remain level in order for the bees to build straight comb without bracing between them. For a short period last summer, my hive shifted from level due to some mole infestation in the area and during that time, the bees built comb which I eventually had to remove this spring. It was bulging on one side and they would try to brace it to the adjacent comb. Once I re-leveled the hive, they have been building nice straight comb...only a little bracing against the side wall where I have an observation window but that hasn't been a problem.

  5. I have used Lavender water on the top of hives - Ants never come back.

  6. I just started a top bar hive 2 weeks ago. The first few combs were rather messy, but bar 3 had the beginnings of a straight comb last time I checked. Hoping for more just like it, but if not I may have to try your method of turning the bar. Thanks for the informative blog!

  7. I've had bulging and joining comb as well. I reversed some of my bars too - wasn't sure that was an OK thing to do so pleased I saw you had done it too. Let's see if it evens up the building of comb.


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