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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Finished the new prototype

I worked with my brother, who is a carpenter, for several hours the other day to put together what I hope is my final design. I can't tell you how incredible the difference is. Nice strait lines and perfect angles. It is a marvelous thing to behold.

My brother only complained a couple of times when I changed something I had just told him to make. The biggest problem was that the design was only in my head and I didn't have measurements. At the end of the day the design is simple and easy to replicate. With this is built that we can take measurements from the next ones will go quickly.

Points to note.
1) The top bars are about 3/8 of an inch shorter so moving from my last hive to this will be problematic.
2) I used solid wood for the sides instead of plywood. This was because so many people worry about chemical leaching. This should give the hive better insulating R factor while only slightly reducing the interior volume. Ultimately any material could be used for the sloping sides of the KTBH even wicker or other weaving material. This would allow for a high tech skelp type hive.
3) I currently do not have an observation window. It could be added.
4) The hive has 31 top bars and is about 13 inches deep.

Now I need to make the top, bottom and follower boards.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New hives

I got the wood tonight to build the new hives. I should have time to work on them next week. YaHoo!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Free Markets

I love the market economy.

Within the last year several people have started selling pre-made topbar hives. For quite some time before I developed "The Best Topbar Hive, EVER" I had been looking for someplace to buy one. In fact the driving force behind my developing this design was that a person could not just simply buy a TBH like they could for the conventional hives. Those days are over. I found at least 4 people selling them.

This is quite good news for me. It verifies that there is a need in the market for pre-built topbar hives. I am of course making the assumption that they are actually selling them. Just because something is listed for sale does not necessarily mean that they are selling, or that the person selling them is making any money. As I don't have a way to verify if they are selling or profitable I must assume that they are. WAAA HOOO!

More faith in the market, I have.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Life Happens

I have been so involved with life and my real job that beekeeping and blogging about beekeeping has been the last things on my mind. But I just got my new beekeeping suit in the mail and that focused my attention.

Yes I just got my new suit. Between my own feeble attempts to make this new purchase happen to back orders and I guess time of year, maybe, it has taken forever to get that new suit. But now I am ARMED with protection. I have no fear again!! Well I never had fear but I didn't like the bees inside my hat. The new set up should work just fine.

I have slightly reworked my hive design and I hope to get several of them built before spring. Which for around here is in a month or so. We had a nice little snow the other day and it has been too cold for the bees to fly. But they were still flying and feeding from my humming bird feeders until last Friday.

I guess I can say without revealing too much that my new design has focused on enabling the keeper to move the hives easier for pollination work. This new design fits nicely on a pallet and stacks or stays stacked better. I had trouble with the legs of the first hive not supporting even and empty hive while stacked very well. They work well enough when the hive is on its own but when stacked they became very unstable. This would be disastrous during a move.

I did have to sacrafice the built in comb holders. Those things were nice and made for easy work of inspecting a the hive. But alas, they had to go and another solution will have to be rendered. But that should not prove to challenging.

My hope and plan is to build the new designs and then in the spring transfer the hive into the new box while at the same time attempting to split them. I think if I can get the weather right I should be able to pull this off. Moving the hive to a new box will be very tramatic and will take the hive quite some time to recover. I am thinking that if I also split the brood at that time both halves will recover and the hive without a queen will raise one.

In the end my updated design places two hives per pallet and gives the ability to stack pallets and hives for moving and storage.

I have also been working on the design feature that allows the keeper to adjust the size of the brood chamber. As I am new to beekeeping I am not sure how useful this will be but it will be easy to do.

I have been integrating bee doors and bee space to to give better control over the bees in the hive. So things like queen excluders can be added or simple things to block workers from the honey bars just before harvest. These items may not be of much use to keepers of European bees but of great worth to those who keep Africans. If it works this should allow the keeper to have access to the hive for as long as he/she wants regardless how aggressive the hive is. In fact if this works like I plan I will turn the bees aggression against them. It will not harm them but the more agressive they act the more bees that will be blocked from the keeper during hive the honey harvest. This should greatly increase the speed that the hive can be harvested.

I know I have dumped my brain here and it is probably hard to follow but just because I have not been working the bees does not mean I have not been working the bees, if you know what I mean.

While the winter is upon us and it is hive building time I hope to get several build before spring.