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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
    80

    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
    2,425

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    Mine is 19x7x48 and they filled about half of it last year.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 12 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
    46,384

    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
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,976

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    Mine are 4 feet long, 18" wide at the bar, 10" wide at the bottom and 12" high. My area sees bees pretty much fill it in a season.

    Adam

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    FRANKLIN NC
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    OK I see that the length should be around 4 ft, but what is the popular opinion on width and depth. It seems there are alot of variations. The only thing I think I read that seemed to be consistent was that the depth should not be greater than 12 inches. Stressing...my bees arrive mid April!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Oceanside, New York
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    not really that crucial. the only reason 12 inches is used is because the majority of less expensive lumber is 12 inches in width, and there is no advantage to going any deeper than that or you could risk the comb being too heavy and breaking.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,503

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    I would make it just under 4 feet, makes it easier to find a top for it. I made my bars 19 inches so they could be put in a lang. You have yours built so you should see how it works for you.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Raleigh, NC, USA
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    Quote Originally Posted by shannonswyatt View Post
    I would make it just under 4 feet, makes it easier to find a top for it. I made my bars 19 inches so they could be put in a lang. You have yours built so you should see how it works for you.
    I agree...mine are about 45" long inside (30+ bars) so I could get the maximum yield for the roofs of several hives out of a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood. I also made my top bars 19", the same as a Langstroth, just in case I ever needed to get some brood comb...in an emergency I could cut down a standard Lang frame to fit in the TBH (probably never will happen ). One other advantage that I see is that the longer top bar gives a higher ratio of comb attachment area to total comb. My hives have 1x12 sides, sloped out at 30 degrees from vertical, which gives a comb that is about 9.5" high and about 6" wide at the bottom. Last summer was VERY hot here and I didn't have any problems with combs collapsing...which I attribute to the long top bar.

    Last year was my first year. I installed two packages on April 14, 2012. The stronger one built out all of the bars in the hive. The weaker one did about 3/4 of the bars. The nectar flow was well along when I installed them because we had such an early spring. Had it been a "normal" year, I would have expected to have gotten more.

    Ken

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Casper, Wyoming
    Posts
    155

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    IMG_0829.jpg
    I just finished a couple. I made them 5 ft for maximal storage. I probably won't have to move them so weight wasn't an problem. Hopefully that attachment went?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Casper, Wyoming
    Posts
    155

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    IMG_0811.jpg
    Building the boxes.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Milw, WI
    Posts
    126

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    _G3+216.jpg

    Here's a pic of the inside with boardman feeder opening in the false back. It might be sorta disappointing when I no longer have stuff to do on the hive, and can only visit them once a week!

    http://geekbeekwi.blogspot.com/2013/...-finished.html

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Tigard, OR
    Posts
    119

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    very nice.
    As for me, all I know is that I know nothing...
    - Socrates

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,518

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    Quote Originally Posted by Silverbackotter View Post
    IMG_0811.jpg
    Building the boxes.
    Very nice! Thanks for sharing. I like 19" TBs for compatibility with Lang. Also, do not save on the length - if bees do well, they will occupy space pretty quickly. Extra space does not hurt. My 20 deep-frames horizontal hive already uses 18 frames and 80% filled with nectar the deep-size super...
    Серёжа, Sergey

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Casper, Wyoming
    Posts
    155

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Size

    Quote Originally Posted by cerezha View Post
    I like 19" TBs for compatibility with Lang...
    MY next boxes will probably be 19" these are 17" based on the plans I found, I didn't want to get to creative till I see how they will function. I might to a horizontal lang but I haven't snooped into those much.

  19. #19
    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.

  20. #20
    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.

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