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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Port Murray, NJ
    Posts
    60

    Default The Top Bar Apiary

    One of the things that attracted me to Top Bar hives was the seeming ease with which I could build my own hives. I built two, then a nuc, and then a 4th larger hive. However, one of the things I'm realizing is that, though I may be able to build them myself, it still takes quite a bit of time. Add to that the cost of the lumber, and the DIY appeal of Top Bar hives starts to wear off.

    This year I started a package on (purchased) Langstroth equipment, and while my woodworking skills aren't the best, I feel I could easily build a few boxes, bottom boards, etc. However, aside from building them, the real benefit in my opinion, is the ability to buy hive components from quite a few suppliers at costs that rival what the big box stores sell lumber for.

    So my question is, for those of you who maintain Top Bar hives in your apiary, how do you support your own equipment needs? Purchasing TBHs, in my opinion, is completely out of the question. So do you build -everything-? How often do you build new hives? At what point (size) does a TBH apiary become unmanageable?

    A related question is, if you do have a few TBHs, but mostly run Langstroth, do you have some unique method of your own for converting back and forth between the two hive types? I haven't been keeping bees very long, but have already experienced the need to do this a few times.

    Here's a couple pics of my modified deep box that i'll use to convert top bar combs to a Langstroth hive:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/2304757...in/photostream
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/2304757...in/photostream

    I'll have to space the bars so there is some way for the bees to move up to the box above. I also understand they are probably going to attach these combs to the side walls of the hive body. Has anyone done anything similar to this before? Have any suggestions?

    Thanks!

    --jon

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    627

    Default Re: The Top Bar Apiary

    I'm new to this, so most of this is just conjecture, but I would think having foundationless frames for the lang and top bar hives that would accept the top piece of that frame would be key to switching from one to the other. Having the depth match the comb depth of the frame would also be important. You would need to make sure the sides and bottom of the frame easily detach and reattach to the top, and you would need to crop the sides of the comb going into the TBH with it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM, USA
    Posts
    119

    Default Re: The Top Bar Apiary

    I have 3 top bar hives and two langs. The top bar hives are pretty simple to make, so I've made all of my own. I haven't gotten to the point of anything being unmanageable, but I imagine at some point I will go one way or the other. I also make my lang boxes, but I was a woodworker before a beekeeper, so that kind of comes natural for me.

    I have not interchanged anything between the two types, so I couldn't answer that part, by others have talked about the cut and cropping of lang frames to go into tbhs.

    I may try a long lang next...basically a combo of tbh and lang. I think that may provide the best of both worlds. That will make the transition between the long and standard langs simple and would make nucs an easy endeavor.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Branson, MO
    Posts
    577

    Default Re: The Top Bar Apiary

    I use only top bar at this point and have 4, I only build one when I get a swarm or cut out call and can in a couple of hours have one built.
    I buy a 2x6 cut it in 13 inch pieces and rip it for the bars it is the right width for the honey bar and I take a 1/4 off for the brood bar, you can make a bunch up at one time.
    I only have around 50.00 in one top bar and have the same space as a Langstroth for brood and honey.
    If you start worrying about frames and such for the top bar you defeat the purpose and just as well go to the Langstroth.
    As far as attaching the comb I find that they do it more with the honey comb because of the weight and less with the brood.
    If at some point I would want to move the hive around to differnet locations I would go with the Langstroth.
    I also think that for me I would need alot more hives then I have to not crush & strain even with the Langstroth it's not that hard & does not take that much time & I'm thinking for me anyways 40 or more hives.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,527

    Default Re: The Top Bar Apiary

    My guess is that most people make their own. That is one of the fun parts. Sure, you end up with that dorky homemade look, but who cares. Plus you get to experiment with you own ideas. Langstroth design is pretty much set in stone, otherwise you lose Interoperability.

    You can make a top bar hive pretty quickly. The bars take a bit, but if you have a table saw you can make a whole bunch at once and be stocked up. I think i made about 40 bars last month with my cousin in probably an hour or at most two. I'm sure we could do it twice as fast today since we have a better idea of the quickest way to do it.

    Most people who use langs don't build the frames, way to many cuts to save any money and they are so inexpensive to get. It is easy to make Lang hive bodies, but bottom boards, inner covers and top covers are a bit more time consuming and probably only make sense to make if you are making lots of them or you have time and enjoy carpentry and have the tools.

    No reason you can't use both.

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