I am thinking of building a few tbh's for next year.
Which design to choose though? I am rather liking this design:
I will simplify it and make it more economical to build probably removing the legs and such.
I would like it if you guys could point me to a similar type hive (plans)?
I need this as my criteria
simple, economical, the type I choose now will be what I stick with so I can have flexibility for divides and such, large enough to winter bees in the north, ect.
Of course I like mine the best.
So far, I like my most recent one the best of any I've tried. I tried to keep it as simple as I could while incorporating anything I really thought was really important. I took two 47 1/4" long 1 x 12's. Two 15" long 1 x 12's. And a 47 1/4" long 1 x 6. I nailed through the 1 x 6 into the 1 x 12's to attach the sides and then just spread them (no angled cuts or anything). I marked the center of the 1 x 6 and the center of the 15" 1 x 12's. I put the 15" boards on the ends and lined up the center and nailed through the 1 x 12 into the 1 x 6. Then I lined the top corner of the 15" ends up with the sides and nailed them. This makes a trough with angled sides that are about 22 1/2 degrees and has taken me five square cuts to make. I made ripped the bars out of 1 bys 1 1/4" wide. I made the bevel for the top bar by cutting the corner off of one bys on the table saw and cut them to fit the width of the inside and nailed and glued them to the top bars. This keeps the bar from sliding sideways. I left a 3/8" gap at the front of the bars for the entrance and used an old piece of plywood for the top. I set it on some cedar blocks on the ends with no legs. I've found things blow over around here more if I have them too tall.
The basic construction (but not necessarily the dimensions) looks like this one:
Except my bottom board is only as wide as the bottom of the inside of the hive and my entrance is just the gap at the front bar.
The top entrance has so far foiled the skunks. The bees have flawlessly kept all the combs in the center of the bars. I did make some 1 1/2" bars also and when the bees start storing just honey I plan to use those instead of the 1 1/4" bars. This is consistent with what I find in natural comb.
It is by far the simplest one I've built with no angled cuts on the box and only the bevel for centering. The shape of the comb seems strong and the size seems to stay self supporting.
When I used starter strips they tended to wander off of center. First they would bend it bit at the ends and second they would just ignore it altogether when it didn't match their spacing close enough. They would cheat smaller in the brood nest (seem to want 1 1/4") and larger in the honey (seem to want 1 1/2") But so far with the 1 1/4" bars and the beveled bars they have followed it perfectly. Also the connections of the combs to the bevels seem to be stronger.
When I used 19" bars in a double wide (32 1/2") Langstroth deep the combs collapsed.
So far I love it and the bees are thriving.
I also like mine the best, though you need some introductory level carpenter to build one of these. Mine is a KTBH style hive. I made mine with 2 48" 1x12s, 1 52" 1x6, and I used the remainder of the 1x12s to make the end pieces of the hive body.
I placed a cleat on the top of the front as an anchor to press the first top bar against. The space that it overhangs the inside of the hive body is 3/16ths".
The top bars are 1 1/4inches (32mm precisely), and I used light bevels on them of about 15degrees. I think a sharper bevel is need like michael's is. The separation of the hive body at the top is 15-16", I think longer than this is problematic. My bottom board is 6" wide (its a 1x6 so its a little less in reality), and the hieght is roughly 9-10 inches. The combs are strong and straight, and the bees are loving it. The hardest part to build was the roofs, which I made peeked and they suspend over the hive body a bit because I made the cleats larger than the top bars. This provides some breathing room in the attic space and even at 2-3pm in the afternoon, I can lift the cover and feel the tops of the top bars and they are cool to the touch. I have seen the bees venting the hive, but I think that's ambient temperature, and not sunlight borne heat on the hives. You can see pics of my top bar hives at:
and you can also see how my son and I are able to work the hives without fear of getting stung. TBHs are great.
Scot Mc Pherson
Foundationless Small Cell Top Bar Hives
See, I knew you guys would build the best top bar hives ever! And I know both of you are right. :> )
Clay, if your going commercial with tbhs, I would take a few years and work out a design and management system that's optimum for you before expanding. There may be cheap resources available that would greatly influence your tbh management/design.
thinking the bees don't care much about the hive design but it can be everything to a comm beek
[This message has been edited by topbarguy (edited June 19, 2004).]