View Full Version : Top-Bar Hives
I ran across a significant amount of information on the top-bar hive method of beekeeping on my search of the Web. Is, or has, anyone on this discussion board using this method ? Is it sometihing that someone wanting to have one backyard hive should consider ? It seems less complicated. The hives seem easier to build. Seems like a method to consider, especially when I'm not concerned with honey production.
I started beekeeping this year using 2 top bar hives (had a lang too but it managed to get a laying worker so it got dumped in the field). I'd heartilly recommend them to people considering beekeeping on a hobby level. It is less complicated in that you don't have to worry with assembling frames, supering, reversing hive bodies or a lot of that. It does have its own complexities though: if you're going to rearrange comb for brood management, the comb needs to be perfectly straight, and you can make other aspects of your management about as complicated as you wish. You've probably already found the first of these, but here are the two links I use as my primary sources on the internet for info about working tbh's:
Jim Satterfield: http://www.gsu.edu/~biojdsx/main.htm
Conrad Berube (not the page linked at Satterfield's site): http://nanaimo.ark.com/~cberube/toc.htm
Things I like about them: less disturbance of the bees than Langs - you open one window at a time, not rip off the whole roof, I haven't used smoke with my bees yet; wax harvest - I intend on making lotions and candles and whatnot, you can do that with langs but TBH is pretty much set up for that; natural comb - it's neat and the bees can build it the way they feel is best rather than being handed someone else's plan; flexible hive structure - you can make the hive about any size or shape you want (I want to make beehive sculptures one of these years) as long as the top bars are the right width. One thing I like doing with my TBH's that you can't do with a lang is open up the back where they haven't started working yet (first year for my packages) and just stick my head in the hive and watch the bees for a while. Below are links to some pictures I have of my hives, you'll see what I mean. TBH's are probably almost the closest you can get to the natural state and still be legal beekeeping.
Pics of my hives: http://personal.bna.bellsouth.net/~ddhess/Bees-TBH-1.jpg http://personal.bna.bellsouth.net/~ddhess/Bees-TBH-2.jpg http://personal.bna.bellsouth.net/~ddhess/Bees-TBH-3.jpg http://personal.bna.bellsouth.net/~ddhess/Bees-TBH-4.jpg
Answers to frequent questions about the pics: no, there is no floor at the time of those pics - I had a piece of linoleum as a temporary floor to get them started and pulled it in preparation to putting in an open mesh floor; yes, on the left wall looking on the inside of the hive that is a window - I thought I'd like to be able to have observation-hive capability to show it off to visitors, but if they keep leaving a good-sized space in the back of the hive it would probably be ok to just take off the back bars to show them. Dimensions: 33 bars long, 19" wide (or whatever a standard super is), 15" deep -- this let me make the walls for 2 hives out of one 4'x8' piece of plywood (no floor of course).
Hope you have fun with whatever you settle on http://beesource.com/ubb/smile.gif,
Thanks very much for the information. I had seen the Satterfield website but not Berube's, so this is good, new info to me. Sounds like the top bar hives have been very successful for you. I think I'm going to get started using this method. Thanks again.
wondering if you registered your apiary with the state of tennessee? i considered top bar hives and will probably have one for an observation hive. i plan to make it out of lexan (lowes/home depot) top bars of wood still. currently have one langstroth. three banded italians.
i can highly recommend the book "the hive and the honey bee"
Yep, they're registered, though I'm going to have to move them to Oak Ridge in a couple of months. That is one disadvantage about TBH's - the comb is only supported along one edge so they're a lot more delicate to move. I've been encouraging mine to build as much sidewall attachments as they want in anticipation of this. Ought to be interesting. http://beesource.com/ubb/smile.gif
I also started beekeeping this year,to increase pollination in my orchard and vegtable garden.The first hive i built was a 30 bar top bar hive(was also inspired by satterfields websight.)Its been working great the italian bees i installed seem to love it!I also have 3 langtroth hives already,I decided to experiment with both types.I just got done painting a first coat of paint on my second top-bar hive tonight.Decided to put a new russian queen nuc in it,to see how they do.The only problem i,ve had with the t.b.h.is that, 3honey storage combs have broken and killed bees and made a big mess for the bees to clean up.I,ve stopped feeding this colony in hopes of slowing their comb building/honey storage enough to let the fresh white combs age and strengthen some before they load them up.Despite the loss of three combs this hive is gangbusters!Good queen i guess.I like the simplicity and the cost of the top-bar hive,and so far am pleased overall with the performance.....