Observation Windows

Discussion about all the various types and configurations of topbar hives.
kalama_beek
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Observation Windows

Postby kalama_beek » Tue Jan 05, 2016 1:21 am

I'm building some new TBHs and am hemming and hawing over whether to include Windows. I liked having them my first year - I could follow progress without completely disrupting the hive, and they were an excellent education tool for the kids and neighbors which helped gain "buy-in" to my beekeeping endeavor. I do, however, think that they may contribute more toward condensation and attachments. Thinking I may forego Windows in the big hives but put Windows in some nucs. Having a window in a trap out nuc or queen cell building nuc could have some benefits, and still provide the educational angle. Thoughts?


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Mycroft Jones
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Re: Observation Windows

Postby Mycroft Jones » Tue Jan 05, 2016 7:22 am

If you want an observation hive, perhaps the apiscope?

I ran the numbers, and if you made a cavity 1 7/8 wide (as per Michael Bush) and 36x36 inches, that gives you the 40 litre cavity that bees love. One hive on a giant single comb.

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trekmate
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Re: Observation Windows

Postby trekmate » Tue Jan 05, 2016 8:12 am

I have TBH with windows and without. Those with, I keep in places where land owners are keen to see what's happening and are happy for me to show others the hives. Those without (simpler to build) go to other places.

In my early years the windows were (as you say) very helpful, but in time I've gained confidence in understanding what's going on without opening the hive, so the windows become nearer to redundant for me, but still have the useful PR function.

If you are seeing increased condensation on a window, try adding a thin sheet of polystyrene between the window and the cover to improve the insulation and make sure that the cover gives a good seal. The only time I've seen a problem was with a warped cover. I've never tried windows on nucs so won't comment on that.

I haven't noticed an increase in attachments on a window, but could that be the bees attempt to insulate the some of the window from the hive atmosphere to try and control the condensation issue?

fruitveggirl
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Re: Observation Windows

Postby fruitveggirl » Tue Jan 05, 2016 1:45 pm

I had windows in my 2 hives during the first year, but a bear smashed a hive and broke the windows in it. When I repaired, I used wood instead of glass.

Visitors enjoy my the observation hive that I still have, but as I've become a more experienced/confident beekeeper, I find that open the window for my own use much less often.

For me, the benefits of having a glass window are:
  • Showing bees to guests
  • Condensation -- I'd rather have moisture on the walls than over the bees, though in the winter, I do add insulation between the window and cover
  • Checking on them during the winter when I don't want to open the hive

The cons of windows are:
  • Lots of attachment on the window side of the hive
  • More difficult and more expensive to make hives with windows
  • My hives with windows warped a lot, even just during the first year,

This year, I'd like to build a portable observation nuc, though, to take around to various places that have expressed interest in having me talk about bees to the kids. With the shorter body, I think I'm less likely to have warping and bowing along the walls.
Last edited by fruitveggirl on Tue Jan 05, 2016 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
http://happyhourtopbar.blogspot.com/ -- A chronicle of my misadventures and mistakes with TBHs

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Michael Bush
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Re: Observation Windows

Postby Michael Bush » Tue Jan 05, 2016 2:40 pm

If the cost was the same I'd have a window on every box. But it's not. It costs money and work to make them. For a beginner I think it's wonderful. For an experienced beekeeper it would be nice, but the benefit is not great enough that I would go to the cost and work...
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

kalama_beek
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Location: Kalama, Washington

Re: Observation Windows

Postby kalama_beek » Wed Jan 06, 2016 6:37 am

Though I don't consider myself experienced yet, I do now have a bit more confidence. You all are validating my initial thoughts and I think I'll reserve the windows for the nucs only and as I've heard M Bush say "make it easier on me and easier on the bees". Thanks for weighing in!


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Michael Bush
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Re: Observation Windows

Postby Michael Bush » Wed Jan 06, 2016 1:09 pm

If it didn't cost anything a plexiglass inner cover would be nice too... You could take a peek without actually opening the hive...
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm


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