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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    FRANKLIN NC
    Posts
    28

    Default Top Bar Hive Size

    I am a new beekeeper, I bought plans and have built 2 top bar Backyard Hives. Great hives, but from what I have been reading they seem to be too small. The dimensions are 36 inches in length, the top width is 12.5 inches and bottom width is 8.5 inches with a depth of 9 inches. My concern is not an abundance of honey, just enough for me, family and friends. I just want to keep healthy hives. Any input is appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Milw, WI
    Posts
    126

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    I am new myself and just made 2 hives. Mine are about 16 x 6 x 8.5 high and the hive body is a full 48 inches (inside dimensions). It holds about 30-32 top bars (1.5 inch)

    I think the idea is that the smaller hive just requires a bit more watchfulness to ensure they dont get too crowded. Just read Les Chandlers' (...I think) book and he seems to indicate that they like 12 or so full combs for overwinter purposes, but his hives are like 44" long.

    I'm sure your hives will work just fine! I am getting the new Beek nerves just waiting for the bee packages to arrive...considering we just had snow and new cold snap this week, when last year it was already 70 degrees at this same time.

    Brett
    Last edited by brettj777; 03-19-2013 at 12:31 PM. Reason: corrected dimensions

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Oceanside, New York
    Posts
    69

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    Being in North Carolina with a relatively long Spring and Summer, you will probably fill up your hive quickly, in which case you will need to watch for swarming. The majority of hives, both home built and/or purchased online are usually about 48 inches long, as are mine. It is a great size regarding finding used lumber around to retrofit the wood to the hive. My two hives cost me about $3.00 each which was for hardware purchased (bolts/hinges).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baker Oregon
    Posts
    2,382

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    Mine is 19x7x48 and they filled about half of it last year.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Milw, WI
    Posts
    126

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    Sheesh, I dont know what sort of lumber ya'll have laying around, but I def spent more than $3.00 to build my hives. Then again, mine may be a little overbuilt...but they look nice!

    And of course as I write this an idea for a simple hinged lid occurs to me...drat. That means I have to build another one(next winter)!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    FRANKLIN NC
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    I am in the mountains of WNC so we definitely get a winter, but it is not usually too harsh.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,217

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    I wouldn't build one less than four feet or more than five feet.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Kemp, Texas
    Posts
    62

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    Quote Originally Posted by JOANR View Post
    I am a new beekeeper, I bought plans and have built 2 top bar Backyard Hives. Great hives, but from what I have been reading they seem to be too small. The dimensions are 36 inches in length, the top width is 12.5 inches and bottom width is 8.5 inches with a depth of 9 inches. My concern is not an abundance of honey, just enough for me, family and friends. I just want to keep healthy hives. Any input is appreciated.
    My hive was a bit shorter because I planned it around the one piece of wood I bought which was a 1/2 sheet of 3/8 aspen plywood. I wanted it to be pretty. It's the away I roll. I have noted there will be 6 top bars for brood and 12 more to watch. At first it bothered me, but with my endoscope and close location, I can keep watch on the size and hopefully have a new hive ready for a swarm. Since I'm in East Texas, they may build fast and swarm soon. That will bee okay since I already have a new spot to put hive #2 which will bee longer.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    Hive INSIDE dimensions:

    Peace Corp KTBH: Depth 12", width at top 19", width at bottom 7", which gives an area of about 198 inch squared, length is 33.5". Angle of sides from vertical 26.6 deg.

    Les Crowder KTBH: Depth 8.22", width at top 20.25", width at bottom 9.25", area 159 inch squared, length is 42.5", angle of sides from vertical 30 deg.

    Gold Star Hive: Depth 9.5", width at top 15", width at bottom 6.19", area 130 inch squared, length is about 44" (32 1 3/8" wide top bars), angle of sides from vertical 25 deg.

    Mine: Depth 9.7", width at top 15.7", width at bottom 6.0", area 135 inch squared, length is 42", angle of sides from vertical 25 deg.

    I would liked to have made mine wider at both top and bottom but was limited by the scrap wood I scavenged from glass shop crates. I rounded the Peace Corp side angle down to 25 deg. These two things brought me remarkably close to the Gold Star hive, which I didn't see dimensions for until I got Christy's book last week.

    Imo there are two main considerations. One is that the deeper the hive and comb the more fragile the comb is to handling and more susceptible to comb drop in hot weather (falling off the TB) due to more weight per inch of attachment to the top bar. The other is the less area of a comb the less food the cluster has available in a cold spell when they can't move to adjacent combs, have to stay put on the combs they are on until it warms enough for them to move. One of my combs full of honey is heavy enough that I wouldn't try rotating it at all, I always just lift them straight up from the hive and put them on a rack to inspect, then put them back in without any rotation, or bumps sideways (I broke one in half once with a sudden shift to the side with a hive tool, when the propolis let go). A 12" inside depth would be even more fragile and susceptible to comb drop. Based on that I would guess a 9" to 10" depth and top and bottom widths like Les', or 19" for compatibility with Lang would be pretty good. I've seen little attachment to side walls so far (only one year), so the angle seems ok, though I think Michael said he sees similar attachment with sloped or vertical sidewalls, so maybe it doesn't matter much at all.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,497

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    The last bunch I made (nucs and swarm traps) and the way that I will go going forward was with 1x8's and 1x12's. I ripped the edges to 30 degrees and joined them, and then added the ends afterwards (from 1/12's). I did need to make a little jig to hold the bottom and sides together and used a ratchet strap to hold it in place while I nailed and glued everything up. Jig is really not much more than a follower board attached to a board that allows me to hold everything tight. These ended up being a little wider than my previous hives but worked fine with my bars. I liked the results from this method of making the hive. My first hives were made with screws, but they get expensive fast, so I went to nails and glue now.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    218

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    The two I have are very different, the first is 22" long by 16" wide and 10" deep, the other is 44" long and 16" wide and 10" deep. The small one has a super coming on stream in a month or so, just as soon as I find some time to make the special top bars to allow the workers access to the super..... It this works well then the big hive will get supers too, eventually.

    Hope that's not going to tread on the toes of anyone LOL.

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