Top Bar Hive Beekeeping

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by justgojumpit, May 20, 2004.

  1. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    hey all, i thought i would share with you what it is like keeping a top-bar hive. First, i built the hive, using heavy duty planks (good for insulation in winter). I built the sides at a 120 degree angle to the bottom board. each top bar is 1 3/8 inches wide, with a wooden strip waxed into a saw kerf along the center of the top-bar. the end bars are 3/16 of an inch wider to accomodate the extra bee space neede at the end. then you build a top, and the bees will build natural comb starting at the wood strip in the saw-beautiful white honey comb. you can get cut comb honey from a tbh by just cutting the honeycomb off the top-bar, or you can crush the comb honey to get extracted. you cannot put top-bars in an extractor, unfortunately. another word of advice: when lifting top-bars out of a hive, make sure there are no connections to the side (the reason for the 120 degree angle is to minimize these connections) and keep the comb perpendicular to the ground. any twisting of that top-bar will make the comb snap right off, because it is not designed to deal with stress in that direction. enjoy,

    justgojumpit

    if you have any questions about my hive, please feel free to ask!
     
  2. Queen Bee

    Queen Bee Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Do you think that this would be a good place to 'trap' a swarm? It seems that if you had one 'sitting around' that the bees would love it and use it as a new home! Any experience with this or suggestions.. I am always interested to see the different things the bees will use: re; a barrel, a plastic crate with a lid that has a small hole in the handle, plastic 5gal bucket, old logs etc. Debbie
     

  3. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    debbie, if you put a bee attractant inside the hive, you may have some luck with this. i would not recommend keeping bees in barrels or crates, or buckets or logs, for that matter. the simple reason being that you will not be able to inspect and manage these hives, which will inevitably become a breeding ground for diseases and mites. this will then pass on to your movable frame hives. the beaty of a top bar hive is that you get comb as the bees build it, in a natural semicircular shape. you can use half a plastic barrel for the bottom if you wish, and then just lay the top-bars across the top. the spout for the barrel can serve as the entrance. however, i find it easier to get the design i want if i build it myself.

    justgojumpit
     
  4. Queen Bee

    Queen Bee Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I did not mean that I would keep bees in any of these things just that they have swarmed in to them! They get moved out asap..In to regular hive body. I thought IF one had a TBH ready they may use it instead of the other crazy things.. Debbie
     
  5. Mike in Pa

    Mike in Pa Well-Known Member

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    I built the trapizoidal type too but if the construction scares anyone away ... you could build a rectangular box type the same way ... just not sloped sides. I THINK this is the Tanzanian type (Kenyan has sloped sides?). I liked the sloped sides if for no other reason ... there's more surface area to hold the comb on the TB and less weight from the comb itself.
     
  6. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    yes mike, you have the kenyan and tanzanians correct. the construction is not too difficult if you have a saw that can cut at an angle. otherwise eyeballing it would definitely be a problem. I think the kenyan looks better anyway ;) sorry, queenbee, i misunderstood you. yes, if you had a top-bar hive, they might use this to swarm into, but it would be just as successful as a lang hive if the entrances were the same size and the volumes were the same. the thing with a top-bar hive is that if you use holes for entrances, you can cork them to get the desired entrace area (posted somewhere, but i forgot it) and hive volume (again... forgot) can be controlled by using a follower board, which is just another top bar, but instead of a center spline for comb building, it has a piece of plywood that acts as a false back wall for the hive.

    justgojumpit
     
  7. I am trying half of a water butt barrel with a window frame over which just fit the hole nicely. It is divided into two hives and each half is conveniently my super size. THis will make the simple roof easy to fit adding supers in pairs. It was simple to add legs and the fill hole is the entrance. If it works then nothing could be easier to construct. Just add some ventilation to the bottom as a mesh floot and to let any water out.
     
  8. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    this is one of the very nice things about top-bar hives. they really can be quite simple to construct. of course you can make them as fancy as you want, which i did, but simplicity is really the essence of top-bar beekeeping.
    i'm sure everything should work out quite nicely. the only dimensions that really matter are the widths of the top-bars: 1 3/8 inches, and the 3/16 inch spacers between the front and back walls and the front and back bars. if they don't fit perfectly, make the front spacer larger or smaller to make the fit work. what would happen then is that you would not be able to remove this front frame, and you would have one side of one frame that you wouldn't be able to inspect.
     
  9. Hillbilly Don

    Hillbilly Don Active Member

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    Do you think you could show us some pictures of this Top Bar Hive? I would love to see it built and working,it is hard for me to follow what you mean,without seeing it. Don
     
  10. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    i'll see what i can do. i've never done pics before, but i'll give it a try.