Top Bar Hive for beeswax production?

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Trevor Gillbanks

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Top bar hives require more lifting than standard hives.
If you have a bad back, then I suggest that beekeeping may not be best for you.
If you are just after beeswax, then I suggest that you find a local beekeeper to you and buy their spare bees wax. It would be a lot cheaper and a lot less damage to your back.

Best wishes and welcome to the forum.
 

Mummzie

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A friend started beekeeping with the primary aim being wax production, and it was not successful. One of the reasons was the need for very pale wax. Starting beekeeping is a VERY expensive way to acquire wax.
What is your intended use of the wax?
 
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Top bar hives require more lifting than standard hives.
If you have a bad back, then I suggest that beekeeping may not be best for you.
If you are just after beeswax, then I suggest that you find a local beekeeper to you and buy their spare bees wax. It would be a lot cheaper and a lot less damage to your back.

Best wishes and welcome to the forum.
Thank you for the reply. Could you explain the more lifting please? Everywhere I am reading, it says Top Bar hives do not require as much lifting and are even suitable for people in wheelchairs.
I need quite a lot of beeswax for my business. Myself and my partner are enrolled to do an Apiculture course starting soon, so we are fairly committed to beekeeping. My partner does not have a bad back.
 
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A friend started beekeeping with the primary aim being wax production, and it was not successful. One of the reasons was the need for very pale wax. Starting beekeeping is a VERY expensive way to acquire wax.
What is your intended use of the wax?
Thank you. I do not require very pale wax for my business. Buying beeswax is also very expensive :) My business is natural soaps and balms with balms being very popular so will be expanding this area.
 

tommy dave

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Thank you. I do not require very pale wax for my business. Buying beeswax is also very expensive :) My business is natural soaps and balms with balms being very popular so will be expanding this area.
In terms of beeswax production, you might want to look into how much beeswax you might expect from a beehive in a year - if you strip down the comb fully maybe up to a few kg? I don't remember how much i got out of a top-bar when i was using one and crush-and-straining to extract the honey, someone here should know though. At that stage, I was giving most of it away to a friend who was making balms and other similar salve type products, a little wax goes a long way!

I've seen beeswax down around $12 a kilo in bulk - not sure if that's at all useful? there is someone selling it in bulk on trade me for what looks like about $6 a kg.

regardless, beekeeping is fun. There are a few threads on this and the older nzbees forum that have heaps of advice on beekeeping using a topbar, and also how to minimise lifting requirements using langstroth hives.

adding a link to that trade-me ad, nothing to do with me: Beeswax
 
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In terms of beeswax production, you might want to look into how much beeswax you might expect from a beehive in a year - if you strip down the comb fully maybe up to a few kg? I don't remember how much i got out of a top-bar when i was using one and crush-and-straining to extract the honey, someone here should know though. At that stage, I was giving most of it away to a friend who was making balms and other similar salve type products, a little wax goes a long way!

I've seen beeswax down around $12 a kilo in bulk - not sure if that's at all useful? there is someone selling it in bulk on trade me for what looks like about $6 a kg.

regardless, beekeeping is fun. There are a few threads on this and the older nzbees forum that have heaps of advice on beekeeping using a topbar, and also how to minimise lifting requirements using langstroth hives.

adding a link to that trade-me ad, nothing to do with me: Beeswax
Thank you ! Yes, was looking at having around 15 hives eventually (we live rurally).
 
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Thank you. I do not require very pale wax for my business. Buying beeswax is also very expensive :) My business is natural soaps and balms with balms being very popular so will be expanding this area.
bees wax is rather cheap at the moment.
at lot of places have beeswax they cannot sell. so if its expensive for you then i think you need to relook at your pricing.

a simply issue is what do you plan on doing with all the honey from the hives?
lots of semi-commercials are up for sale at the moment because they can't sell the honey.
 
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bees wax is rather cheap at the moment.
at lot of places have beeswax they cannot sell. so if its expensive for you then i think you need to relook at your pricing.

a simply issue is what do you plan on doing with all the honey from the hives?
lots of semi-commercials are up for sale at the moment because they can't sell the honey.
I also use honey in my business and I also make some ciders (personal use) so will be looking at maybe trying to make mead for myself. I may also look into selling a very small amount of infused honey's - won't really know until I have been at it a few years.
I am also interested in keeping the bees for pollination on my property too, as well as the wax and honey. I haven't even started to look at royal jelly etc.
 
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It seems everyone is trying to put me off becoming a beekeeper, but I can assure you that my partner and I will be beekeepers after we have finished out Level 3 Apiculture course. My other business does well and I provide all herbal material for that, and my next step is supplying my own beeswax and honey for that business. We are not young and I have owned my own businesses for decades. I was merely asking if the horizontal top bar hive was the better hive for wax production and it would seem that nobody thinks so and that it also require MORE heavy lifting according to this forum. My beekeeping mentor seems to not agree with that thought.
My research will continue.
 
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Trevor Gillbanks

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Could you explain the more lifting please? Everywhere I am reading, it says Top Bar hives do not require as much lifting and are even suitable for people in wheelchairs.
I have run both top bar hives and Langstroth hives.
I got rid of all my top bar hives as they are difficult to run successfully and it is a constant battle to stop bees from swarming and trying to move enough of the frames to give the bees space. So much easier in Langstroth hives.

Wax production from a hive (either sort) would be fairly similar and possibly less than 1 kg per year per hive. There is only a few gms per frame of wax.

I am not trying to suggest that you don't get into bees, That is your decision.
I do suggest that you start beekeeping in Langstroth hives (3/4 size) as you have a bad back.
Once you have got the beekeeping side of things sorted, then try Top Bar hives.
The advantage of running Langstroth hives is that you can readily buy standard NUC's to get started. It is much more difficult with TBH as everyone makes them to their own measurements.

Best wishes in your beekeeping venture.

I see you have still not answered what you are going to use the wax for.
 
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Bron

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Hi Sighthound we have all had our own journeys into beekeeping and although I have had no experience with top bar/long hives, I’ve had 10+ years of experience with langstroth hives.

On the forum we do try to offer advice after we’ve made our own mistakes to try and help others from making the same. Sometimes we come off a little more curt than intended. A number of experienced beekeepers have detailed experiences with top bars, which seems to be that bees like to go upwards rather than sideways. (That’s my take on what I’ve read.)

Reading all you can and perhaps going to your local bee group to talk about local experience is always a great idea.

The advice that Trevor has given you comes from experience. If we were starting up again I’d go with 3/4 boxes in a shot. The gear is readily available and interchangeable, (and lighter) than the full depth gear we run. That becomes an important issue once you start to size up. Then you never have enough gear. Bees can breed worse than rabbits if you get a good run.

Good luck with your research and beekeeping journey, there’s always something new to learn.
 
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It seems everyone is trying to put me off becoming a beekeeper, but I can assure you that my partner and I will be beekeepers after we have finished out Level 3 Apiculture course. My other business does well and I provide all herbal material for that, and my next step is supplying my own beeswax and honey for that business. We are not young and I have owned my own businesses for decades. I was merely asking if the horizontal top bar hive was the better hive for wax production and it would seem that nobody thinks so and that it also require MORE heavy lifting according to this forum. My beekeeping mentor seems to not agree with that thought.
My research will continue.

great to see your doing the course. sounds like your committed.
sorry it seams like people are putting you off but you need to do beekeeping for beekeeping not because of other things.
there is many pages of people who started beekeeping for "pollinate my garden", "save the world" etc and they end up with a bunch of dead hives in the garden. 50% of beginners do not make it to 2nd season.
the other thing the amount of wax off hives is not very much. i suspect you would require more wax than what your own hives would produce.

top bar hives are really for pro's. they are really for retired beeks who can attend to them every day.
they are not suitable for beginners. the top bar frames are light, but your dealing with a lot more of them constantly.
i think thats what your mentor is not considering.
also purely production wise, horizontal hives have less production. bees naturally go vertical and the larger production shows it (which is why all commercial hives are vertical).
with horizontal hives you have to force the bees to go sideways, hence why you need to manipulate them much more, which means more lifting etc.
 
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To make wax bees require nectar or sugar. It takes quite a bit of nectar to make the wax which means you will get less honey to extract if you continuously harvest combs for their wax but that is not necessarily a problem. What is a problem is that most areas are heavily overstocked with bees now and a lot of areas are grossly overstocked so that both honey and wax production is way down on what it was a few years ago. Wax production is quite seasonal and only really occurs when there is a honey flow on and that doesn't happen very often when there are too many hives. It's also becoming increasingly difficult to keep hives alive with varoa becoming resistant to the easier methods of treatment.
If you seriously want to be a beekeeper then I wish you well but don't think that a level III courses going to make you one and I strongly suggest you join a local bee club. If you are just doing this for pollination then I don't no anywhere in the North Island that doesn't have more than enough bees in the area and if you're doing it to save money on ingredients, both honey and wax are now being sold at below the cost of production.It takes a few years to get up to speed with beekeeping and with varoa even very experienced beekeepers are struggling to keep hives alive these days and it's only gonna get worse.
You can do it but don't think it's going to be easy and if you haven't got the time to do things on time then don't get started.
 
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To make wax bees require nectar or sugar. It takes quite a bit of nectar to make the wax which means you will get less honey to extract if you continuously harvest combs for their wax but that is not necessarily a problem. What is a problem is that most areas are heavily overstocked with bees now and a lot of areas are grossly overstocked so that both honey and wax production is way down on what it was a few years ago. Wax production is quite seasonal and only really occurs when there is a honey flow on and that doesn't happen very often when there are too many hives. It's also becoming increasingly difficult to keep hives alive with varoa becoming resistant to the easier methods of treatment.
If you seriously want to be a beekeeper then I wish you well but don't think that a level III courses going to make you one and I strongly suggest you join a local bee club. If you are just doing this for pollination then I don't no anywhere in the North Island that doesn't have more than enough bees in the area and if you're doing it to save money on ingredients, both honey and wax are now being sold at below the cost of production.It takes a few years to get up to speed with beekeeping and with varoa even very experienced beekeepers are struggling to keep hives alive these days and it's only gonna get worse.
You can do it but don't think it's going to be easy and if you haven't got the time to do things on time then don't get started.
Thank you for your thoughts.
I live in rural mid-canterbury. No-one has beehives around my small village.
Pollination was just an added bonus for me and my very large garden with many fruiting trees etc.
I work from home part-time as does my partner so we have plenty of time here.
I realise a course won't make me a beekeeper and that it will take many years.
I do have a couple of beekeeping mentors.
It's not solely about just saving money.
 
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Thank you for your thoughts.
I live in rural mid-canterbury. No-one has beehives around my small village.
Pollination was just an added bonus for me and my very large garden with many fruiting trees etc.
I work from home part-time as does my partner so we have plenty of time here.
I realise a course won't make me a beekeeper and that it will take many years.
I do have a couple of beekeeping mentors.
It's not solely about just saving money.
it sounds like you understand the situation.
do your course, get one or two beehives, in 3/4's, learn the basics. that will take a minimum of a few years.
in the mean time you can buy in wax easy enough.

keeping the bees and and the business separate will help a huge amount.
 

yesbut

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It's not solely about just saving money.
At risk of adding to the chorus, you will definitely not save money, just like any hobby, the opposite will be the case ! If I were you I'd forget about any particular reason to need or justify having bees, just get some because you fancy having them around, and see what happens in the fullness of time...
 
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I have top bar hives, and a Langstroth hive. I did the level 3 course last year, after a previous year of beekeeping where my learning was supported by a bee club. My thoughts are that top bar hives are harder to manage as far as the colony care goes, but the physical management of frames is easier, until you have to move hives offsite (my ones have legs that are bolted on, so I will have to suspend the box, remove the legs, transport, and then reverse the procedure at the other end of the trip). The bees in the top bar hives seem calmer, less likely to get upset by my intrusion, I find. With the course we made one full depth brood box and two three-quarter depth supers. This was the model because it means the brood box is big enough to be one brood box going into Winter, and the cost of treating for varroa is less than two brood boxes stacked. The down side is that a full depth brood box can be heavy, and frames can't be switched about as much. As a hobbyist I can see that using two 3/4 depth boxes as brood boxes would work for me with lifting, and I could afford the extra treatments, and all my frames would be interchangeable, and I could spare the extra time to check two brood boxes for a queen and for AFB signs - but I can see why commercial beekeepers go for full depth. Because I don't have too much hive equipment yet I still have the option to switch to all 3/4 depth boxes, and I will assess this after this coming season. As for beeswax, yes it is easier to crush and melt a frame of wax comb from a top bar hive, and you know that the wax is only from your bees. With a Langstroth hive there is the foundation wax that has come from elsewhere. As a beekeeper you can mark your frames yourself to indicate which were in the hive at the time of varroa treatments - so you know which are useable for beeswax that goes into skincare products, and which would be better for candles and polishes. The course was incredibly useful and interesting to me, well worth doing. You can call yourself a beekeeper if you keep bees. (It is just that there are levels of experience and learning as you progress through the years of being one, and longtime beekeepers will tell you that they are still learning new things each season). The distinction I have noticed most in beekeeping circles is that of being a responsible beekeeper, or irresponsible beekeeper. An added bonus with keeping bees is that they make you happy. My daily meditation is sitting beside the hives watching them come and go, and they are the barometer for my wellbeing; if my bees are happy, I am happy.
 


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