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The unfortunate effect that I had in the hive by trying to fix things and enforce straight comb drawing had me pretty pessimistic about the chances of my bees this winter. Everything was completely disorganized with brood and honey in random places, way too many drones and barely any honey.
The lesson I learned is that the hive is self healing and surprisingly so. Today’s inspection was an amazing discovery of their capacity to adjust. They reorganized all the frames, gathered some very good honey reserves late in the season and have a very healthy population.
And the best part is that the approach of enforcing straight comb drawing with plastic foundation every other frame worked! It’s still not an ideal scenario to have plastic in my “natural” top bar hive but it definitely takes care of the problem and I still get half of the frames 100% built by the bees.
It’s been over a year since our move away from the city and we’re finally getting back into chickens. Things take time, starting fresh at the other end of the country doesn’t happen overnight. We only got 5 layers as we’re pretty late in the season, we’ll start meat birds next spring.
The coop still needs some polish and a window but here it is in all its current glory:
With a bunch of Rhode-Island Reds
Works for toddlers as well
As with the beehive, I drafted everything on Google Sketchup and it made building it completely devoid of surprises. The plan can be downloaded here.
There is a new evil in the land, and its name is Manduca Sexta, or horn worm for us mortals. These fat slimy caterpillars have started pillaging our tomato plants.
One of them bastards getting fat at our expense, what a cool pattern though, especially the eye.
All they leave behind are the skeletons of what were once beautiful tomato plants
We’ve been squashing them left and right but they keep coming and their camouflage is extremely effective. It looks as though spraying with an organic compound referred to as “BT” is the solution to our problem.
After the bee holocaust that was my first harvest, it became evident that I needed to monitor the hive more often for misaligned comb. They didn’t take long to fuck things up again by building shit all over the place.
Well that’s just great
As you can see on the above picture, they’re building from the walls, the ground and the comb on the bar to the right is slightly misaligned. What you are not seeing is that the layout of brood, honey & nectar throughout the hive is completely inconsistent. Where before brood was towards the front, honey the middle and nectar the back; everything is now all over the place most likely as a result of my adding empty bars and moving things around to encourage straight comb drawing.
They started working on this mess a week ago and as soon as I saw it I ordered a bunch of these guys. Let’s ponder on the absurdity of the situation: the main argument for Top Bar Beekeeping is that it’s more natural, you let the bees do their things and yoink some honey every once in a while. Well guess what, you need the bees to build their shit exactly right or you’ll be decimating them every harvest for not much at all. I’m reduced to adding plastic foundation to my “natural” hive to enforce rather than encourage straight comb. And I’m sure they’ll figure out a way to fuck this up as well.
This is my last attempt at fixing this, if they don’t get it right we’ll ditch Top Bar in favor of Langstroth next season.
Cutting the plastic frames to specs
A bunch of top bars with a slit a little wider to accommodate the plastic foundation
Plastic top bar
Good luck mis-aligning that
I did every other bar in the area of the hive that was a mess
As is becoming routine with top bar beekeeping: waste left for the bees to rob clean