Sunday, November 29, 2009

Moving to an all Warre Apiary

After my losses and in hive problems this year in my Kenyan top bar hives, due to me leaving them untouched for 6 months every year, I have decided that the warre hive is best suited to these conditions. I have to leave them with enough space to expand as the season progresses, but the kenyan unless properly monitored, gets badly cross combed. It doesn't matter in a warre if they cross comb as you harvest one box at a time.

My first priority though is to get the bees from my two remaining Layens hives onto warre boxes. Having tried various methods, I have worked out the best way is to simply make a transfer box that will take several Layens frames and set it on top of a warre. I made one that took eight frames and one that took nine. At this time of year there are fewer bees and little brood. Easily enough room for them and some stores in the transfer boxes. Later when they start to expand their numbers again, they will only have one direction to go and that is downward into the warre box. I have put only one box on for now but will add another in early Spring (February).

This layens had some collapsed combs which meant I had to pry two frames out together. Luckily I was able to discard these frames.

Here the transfer box sat on its warre box is complete with the layens frames and all remaining bees shaken into hive. I harvested six frames of honey in the process, so I am now pressing that honey with my pan press.

The next item on the agenda for me is to make some kenyan transfer boxes. I initially thought I might make them in the style of the ones I made in Sweden (see earlier post) but I have come up with a better idea. All will be revealed when I have transfered the picture in my head to one I can upload here..........


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  2. Hi Norm,
    I see you have abandoned the KTBH due to cross combing and comb failure. I have given this much thought. If you please will you help me understand. I am new and only kept bees for one year now. I do honestly want to understand.

    I see your experience with the KTBH and I think I were in your situation I might move away from this style of hive. I think the comb and hive failure would be enough for me.

    What I don't understand is the problem with cross comb. This confusion is probably due to my lack of experience. If I understand the process, or should I say your process, is to prepare your hives in the spring by removing the backer board and other duties. You then leave them for the summer and move to your home in the other country. Once in the new place you harvest and prepare the hives for winter. Then you go back and forth harvesting when you arrive then setting them for the honey flow before you leave them. I only wish I could live like that, maybe someday.

    My confusion is the problem with cross comb. When you remove the backer board the front of the hive should already be set. I would not think the bees would need to build new comb in the brood or winter part of the hive. The remainder of the hive or new area should be filled with honey. When the harvest comes will you not take all of the combs in the summer section and leave the winter. If so why does it matter if they are crossed? I mean will you not just crush it anyway?

    I am not sure if I am making sense. Let me state it another way. I will talk in hypothetical’s here. Say your/any hive has the entrance on one end. Starting there we number the topbars from one going up. At bar 10 we add a follower board. For these first 10 bars it is important that they are not crossed for later inspection. But once that is built it should never need to be rebuilt. So in the spring you remove the follower and the bees start building new comb and hopefully filling it with honey. I am sure the brood will grow a bit into this area but by and large this should be new comb for honey. In the fall you harvest by removing all comb in the hive back to bar 10. At this point you put the follower back in and the bees are ready for winter. I don't understand why it matters if bars 11 through,, whatever are crossed.

    Am I missing the entire point?

  3. Hi Curtis. Basically what I am saying is during the bees activity in my absence, they expand and contract the brood nest, move honey all over the place, deal with collapsed comb by attaching it to the walls and the floor etc. My experience is that the hive is totally unmanageable without drastic butchering every year. That for me is unacceptable. I don't need to put myself and my bees through that. Kenyans need to be monitored closely and any cross combing dealt with before it gets out of hand. I don't have to worry about it in a warre. Thanks for the comment.