Topbar Comb Guides

Discussion about all the various types and configurations of topbar hives.
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hsilgnede_bee
Freshman Beekeeper
Posts: 19
Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2015 8:16 pm
Location: West of Ireland

Topbar Comb Guides

Postby hsilgnede_bee » Mon Nov 30, 2015 1:21 pm

I asked this question on another forum but I'd like to hear what people on here think as well. No-one has a monopoly on all the knowledge :)

My 2 new top bar hives arrived yesterday. Very exciting. Smile

The top bars have a groove cut in them but there's nothing in the groove. Its about the width of two popsicle sticks. I've seen designs that have a piece of wood along the top bar on which the bees are supposed to begin drawing the comb.

I questioned it with the builder of the hives who keeps bee's himself and he said just to rub some beeswax into the groove that's there and the bee's will use that.

What do people think? Should I glue in some popsicle sticks which I can get from any craft store or should I get some beeswax from somewhere and use that? Maybe I need to do both?


The advice I got on the other forum is as follows.

My advice would be to give them a more physical guide than just a waxed saw cut. It works some of the time but not with enough consistency to make it worth the risk of having to deal with cross combing if they ignore it. Many people find a length of triangular profile timber molding works well. The problem with something narrow like lolly sticks is that they often start to build comb off the bottom edge and work downwards which means that all the weight is hanging from a very small area and therefore more likely to collapse, They will eventually build comb upwards over the sides of the lolly stick and onto the underside of the top bar, but that initial comb is usually quite vulnerable until they do that. The broader triangular profile gives them more attachment area and hence more robust. The waxed kerf gives even more attachment area of course but not guaranteed to be where you want the comb built.

I would say that good comb guides are one of the most important aspects of getting started with a top bar hive and I would certainly recommend doing some research on it.


I'm not suggesting this person is wrong, or that I disagree. I definitely appreciate her input. I just wondered how the folks on here see it.

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Michael Bush
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Location: Nehawka, Nebraska
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Re: Topbar Comb Guides

Postby Michael Bush » Mon Nov 30, 2015 2:14 pm

>I questioned it with the builder of the hives who keeps bee's himself and he said just to rub some beeswax into the groove that's there and the bee's will use that.

That is the least reliable guide. Put wood in. Do not wax it. Waxing it just makes a poor connection to the wood and does nothing to get the bees to build on it. Jumbo craft sticks. Paint stir sticks. Whatever is available to you Glue it into the groove.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm#guide
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundation ... whichguide
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

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hsilgnede_bee
Freshman Beekeeper
Posts: 19
Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2015 8:16 pm
Location: West of Ireland

Re: Topbar Comb Guides

Postby hsilgnede_bee » Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:20 pm

Thanks Michael


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