You will not get all the answers...even on Beesource. (oh, you'll get a bunch of them alright). But part of the fun is watching and learning from your own bees, in your own location. How's that for a response?
For what it's worth, here are some tidbits from my top bar experience:
*My hives are about 42" long, hold something like 30 bars, have round bottoms (like a drum cut in half) and are deep enough to hold a deep frame and then some. People said I would have trouble with such large combs. I have large combs but no trouble and you should see the brood combs!
*I have used a follower board to split a hive in order to house two colonies.
I pulled out the board when one queen died and the colonies did NOT combine. (There were about 10 empty bars separating them.) I requeened and life went on.
*I use plywood for tops...very sloppy, curls up, looks bad. The bees propolize the bars together anyway and they haven't complained.
*Speaking of propolis, one hive closed up a 2 inch hole that I had drilled as an entrance, preferring to enter under the curled-up plywood top.
*The natural combs are works-of-art. I am still studying the wide variation in cell size.
*When I want to look at bees, get bees for a demo, check out the flow, etc., these are the hives I go to. I have 10 Langstroths and they are nowhere near as much fun.
Now get some bees and post your experiences for us to learn from.
Well, you asked for it.