I've been browsing these forums a bit and I am in plans to build a highly modified top-bar hive based upon items available to me and some perceived strengths/weaknesses of both top-bar and Langstroth hives. Any input would be greatly welcomed.
So, I had been planning on making about a 30-bar TTBH sized so that I can use the Langstroth frames I'll be getting. I like the top-bar feature of keeping the bees "in the dark", so I had been planning on designing so langstroth frames would fit in the hive with a top-bar affixed to the top of the Lang frame--basically, I'd be using the entire Lang frame as my "strip" beneath the top-bar. Lang frames would have all foundation removed, so like top-bar the bees would make their own cells. I thought this would provide the following advantages:
1. More volume/surface area for brood and stores in the main box than with a ktbh because of the flat sides
2. A frame to keep the comb from getting too "big" and breaking off under it's own weight, also to keep things straighter.
This would then be essentially a 3-lang box for winter stores and brood, which should be a good amount for Wisconsin, I believe.
In addition to the below, I would cut notched in all top bars say 2 inches long and 1,2 inch deep or so, to allow "bee space"; so the bees can freely travel between frames even if they bind them completely, but I can keep things covered in the part of the hive I"m not working by covering the notches with a simple strip of masonite or similar.
When not supered, I would add a cover, propped on one end and with a overhang on that end, as the entrance. When supered, it would get another cover (raised a bit to allow bees to travel between the bars through the "notches")sized so that it butted against a super on one end (cover 2/3 hive length, super other 1/3.) The super would be a standard lang super with either lang frames or top-bars cut to fit again. To make bees "notice" the super, I would remove the end top-bar and this would be beneath the super. The new exit would be the top of the super itself.
I thought this would let the bees build their own nest down below, and make it top-bar easy to look in on the hive one bar at a time with minimal disturbance, but still let me super like a lang, and work either frames or bars for supering, depending upon my needs. I would also be able to swap frame boards and purchase nucs, I'd have a large 3-deep brood chamber, and the bees would be able to readily traverse between the frames without major issues, but I wouldn't be "opening the whole hive" anytime I wanted to look in. Furthermore, I could stack multiple supers, or super both ends, and leave a super on in the winter if need be, like with a lang, but again still keep the top-bar ability to raise single combs for observation or harvest with minimal disturbance to the hive.
Any merit in this idea at all? Michael, I believe you have fairly similar in your ttbh.....I just saw earlier limitations on top-bar hives including that "you can't super" and "you can't use lang frames"; this way you can do both. Is thsi a good idea, or am I better off just using langstroth or top-bar systems individually than mixing the 2?