Q: How do you transfer bees from a Langstroth-type hive to a top bar?
A: There are two methods that we use. The first is to make an artificial swarm. A large colony is moved during a nectar flow and the top bar put in its place. The field bees will return to the top bar. Additional bees must be shook from the parent colony until roughly 2-4lbs of bees have been placed in the top bar. A queen can then be introduced and the colony fed a light honey syrup.
The second method (our preferred method) is to add a 9 5/8 containing top bars to the top of a Langstroth hive. The bees are allowed to draw comb on the bars and fill it with brood. The entire box is then removed and relocated to a top bar hive in a different location. 24 hours later a queen can be introduced.
Q: Can I harvest honey from my top bar hive?
A: We recommend you leave sufficient honey stores to carry the hive though the winter. The amount you leave will depend on your climate. If your hive has produced over and above that amount, the honey can be harvested by simply removing the bees and either using the honey and comb together, or crushing the comb.
Q: How can I tell if my hive is queenless?
A: One tell-tale sign of queen problems is a change in temperament of the bees (for the worse) and a decrease in activity. If eggs or young larve are not found upon inspection, the hive is most likely queenless. Because we're dealing with nature, there can always be exceptions to this rule.