How to merge with a top bar hive?

A friend of mine had 2 Flow Hives and her house and yard were flooded in the recent devastating record-breaking floods here in the Northern Rivers, NSW, Australia.

One hive was completely washed away and lost but a small colony has remained in the other hive that is still standing. I inspected the surviving colony yesterday and they were advanced queenless with no brood, just a few thousand bees, and some resources.

I see the only options for this colony being to add a decent couple of brood frames including bees, or merge with them with another colony. The trouble is that my friend lives quite regionally and the only other honey bee hive in her area (that we know of) is a top bar hive.

Any ideas from the forum on what the best move may be to avoid this colony having a slow death? Is there a safe way to merge a colony from a Langstroth hive to a top bar hive?

Thanks :slight_smile: B

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Hi Bianca, sorry your friend lost her colony and is dealing with all of that difficulty!

If what I read is true that top bars fit inside a Lang box, then my first choice would be to add brood frames from the neighbor’s hive if they’re willing to help out. Then the bars can eventually be cycled out & returned once the colony is doing better.

Best wishes to your friend :cherry_blossom:

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Thanks @Eva.

Unfortunately, the trouble is that top bar hive frames are different, they’re not as long as the length of a Langstroth brood box, so the frames aren’t interchangeable :frowning:

Hi Bianca, in response to your last question, I think the newspaper method would work if your friend can work out a way to place newspaper in an area to accommodate the Langstroth hive, which should be fairly easy to do.

To go the opposite way, you could gently modify the top bar combs, if needed, (sadly by cutting away some brood) to fit into Langstroth hives. If the bars are too short, you could fit them to Langstroth top bars with cable ties, purely as a temporary measure until the bees get established onto normal frames.

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Hi @Bianca ,
How about attaching some long enough plank temporary to the top of the bar to hang it in Lang box? The sides and the bottom plank are not necessary for the purpose.

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Great feedback. It’s totally doable, with by extending the top bar frame to fit in the lang or placing the Lang brood box over the top of the frames in the top bar and doing the newspaper method.

Thanks for your help and reassurance everyone. I will let my friend know and see how they go.