OK... I don't know much about Topbars so I will ask the experts in this section. I am wondering if you can make a Topbar hive using 1/2 of a 55 gallon drum cut lengthwise. The edges would be backed up with a rabbeted 2x4 maybe. The frames would be a piece of ripped 2x4 with a bowed wooden piece for the frame bottom (could be made with thin wet wood bowed on a jig and attached to the Topbar and left to dry to hold its shape). The bottom bar could have a couple of supporting wires to give it rigidity and hold its shape. If the bottom bars all maintain proper bee space from the inside of the drum, would the bees connect it all together?? Was thinking of putting about a 6-8' wide strip of screen down the length of the drum for ventilation/mites etc.
And IF you cover the edges of the topbars, you can probably put 2 Langstroths side by side on top of the drum if you wanted.
Looking for comments on why this COULD or COULDN'T be done....
Adding the frame work has not been real sucessful as of yet. The African site I visited said you could use used drums as long as the were painted a ight color for heat reasons. Several people on here have had problems with screened bottoms. It has been a somewhat backward thing but it seems a smaller entrance and less we try to vent the TBHs the better they work. Hope Topbarguy jumps in.
In the more remote areas of the world, 55 gallon drums are one of the few manufactured resources that are readily available. And they have been used for tbhs.
Barry Birkey sort of built a wooden one. See:
He sent me a photographic cross-section of the comb and I performed my little analysis on it for cell size distribution. He will generate the web pages and post the results here, at beesource.
But I will share one interesting fact. The bees in his tbh only built comb about 1/2 to 2/3rds the height of his tbh. And they used slightly less than half the top bars. It appears that a 55 gallon drum cut in half might be too large a volume for the average tbh.
I have also looked at scrounging material for tbhs. It would be a neat experiment to develop a tbh sideline operation for almost nothing. I considered using the 30 gallon, food grade, plastic, soft drink syrup drums, free for the taking at soft drink bottlers.
Yep... I had already looked at that Topbar page when I got the idea. It looks deeper than a round drum...kind of oblong shaped. But maybe the pictures are just fooling me. I think if you fit foundation into the frames they should be more willing to pull it all out. My concern is that they would glue up the entire bottom of the frames so that you can't get the Topbar out without breaking it. As far as volume is concerned, there is enough length in the drum for just about 20 frames according to my PRE-guesstimates.... and the surface area of each frame is ~ 84% greater than a normal deep frame.... which means the entire drum length would have the same approximate comb area as 2.8 "10 frame" deep boxes.... so, just slightly less than 3 deeps....
IF they didn't fill up the drum you could make a follower board and draw them out slowly....but it seems to me they should really have no problem filling the entire length of the drum. If they DID have a problem, then maybe you could put a solid board in the middle and do 2 hives (1 at each end) with Langstroths over each end.
I have read SOME of the posts on Topbars, but not much.... Why is it that you cannot put a screen at the bottom for the length of the drum? Does anyone have negative experience with a vented bottom?
It would be pretty cool if I could work this out SIMPLY... I want to sell bees.... and to do this you need LOTS of bees.... Regular hive will cost ~60-70 bucks even buying all discounted/volume purchased budget grade equipment.... quite a bit of pocket change for 2000-3000 hives... BUT, If I can make an ACCEPTABLE house for these little critters for say... ~10-20 bucks... Hmmmmmmm It IS rather intriguing to say the least. I'm probably gonna try to throw a rough draft example together in the next month or so. I will look at it and see if it is feasible, then maybe do an early split in it this spring.
Ehhhh... well some people will slam me for trying to be TOO cheap.... BUT... sometimes it PAYS to think outside the box.
Anyone else have any suggestions or comments, please feel free to tell me why it won't work....
Take a look at this it addresses many of the questions you asked and is just like the "bee condo" on this site.
As far as the 55 gal drum idea goes, you won't know untill you try. My advice skip the SBB and concentrate on devising a feeder that will work with your idea.
Procrastination is the assination of inspiration.