Transferring Bees To Our Top Bar Hive

We picked up the bees on Sunday night. Evening is best for this because that’s when all (or most) of the girls (bees) are home from work.  Silly me, I completely forgot, and did not bring a box with me for transfer. The vendor was kind enough to lend me the one you see in the photo below. Next year they will have boxes they can routinely send with you. I bought a Nuc – 4 frames (2 of brood, 1 of food, and one empty frame), and of course, the queen and a whole mess of bees. 
The challenge was to transfer, as gracefully as possible, the rectangular Langstroth style frame to the rather triangular Top Bar hive. Out there in Googledom I found some great blogs, videos, and forums on how to do just that.  We waited until Wednesday to make the move – weather was weird the days prior and our schedules were crazy. But the bees were patient. 

Here, I’m shaking the bees into the hive – my first time. It was quite the thing.  I was nervous about shaking the queen off, but she did just fine. 

We clipped the wooden ends off with a simple bypass pruner (something like these). We had a small saw on hand just in case we needed it, but it wasn’t necessary. 
The center of the frames were plastic so we used tin snips to cut easily through that, using a follower board as a template. We were able to keep most of the brood in tact, but there was some carnage, unfortunately. 

Here, Rosalind, partner in crime, is using a thin wire to fix some of the cut-off bits of the brood to a top bar with no ridge on it.

The Langstroth frames fit perfectly in our top bar hive. See my last post on info about where we got our plans. You can’t butt the narrow Langstroth bars together snugly because you need to leave room for the bees to work. So, leave a little space in between each.

It certainly didn’t take long for the bees to flock back to their comb. Can bees flock? You get the idea.

We covered the Langstroth frames with a bit of cotton twill and tucked the ends under the side. Eventually we’ll be able to transfer the frames right out of the Top Bar hive.  For now, this will keep it dark and secure.

They had no problem adopting the hive. 
And as of this morning, only 4-5ish days after the transfer, you can see how much progress they’ve made on the first top bar. They are so AMAZING!!! My youngest son said, “there’s nothing more beautiful.” 
Do we know what we are doing? Not really. We’re learning as we go!  
I have to do a bit of research on ants, as I found a few crawling over the top of the top bars when I inspected them this morning.  We also encountered a beetle larva, identified by Rosalind who has a thing for bugs, in one of the combs. We suspect the bees will muscle all the intruders out. I haven’t yet checked for varroa – I’m not entirely sure what to look for. Another research project!
Oh, and in Montreal you have to register your bees with the gov’t. Don’t let me forget to do that, now that it is actually happening! I still can’t believe we’ve done it.  Check with your municipality to see what kind of bylaws are in place.  
In all, this was way less scary (as in an “Oh dear me, I’m going to do it wrong” kind of fear) than I thought. 

More about Julie Prescesky

Julie spends much of her time paying attention to what's happening around her. At Design Inkarnation, she's head designer, illustrator, writer and creative problem solver.

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