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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    San Francisco
    Posts
    29

    Default How to build cheap top bars.

    Hello all,
    I have just built a top bar hive body out of a plastic drum, reclaimed lumber and a table top. Now I need to make top bars. I am waiting on a book I ordered on how to build hives, but I was wondering any of you fine people had any experience making your own top bars? My hive body is 23" wide, so my bars will probably be 25" long. Any tips on how to cheaply made good top bars? Thanks in advance. I have a ton of fun building this first hive, I might want to do it again.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Isle of Wight, VA
    Posts
    398

    Default Re: How to build cheap top bars.

    I don't build my own, but the ones I ordered had the thin strip of wood in the middle that was stapled in. Seems pretty solid to me, but mine are only 19" long and depending on how deep your drum, you may want to consider bamboo sticks to help add some strength to the comb. It was just mentioned some time in a December post in this forum, so you should be able to find it pretty easily.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    hinesville ga usa
    Posts
    311

    Default Re: How to build cheap top bars.

    Go to lowe's buy the 1x2x8' which are actually 3/4 x 1 1/2, cut them to length in your case maybe 24 inches could work that way you could get four out of the 96 inch piece, then using a table saw shave 1/8" off leaving you the required 1 3/8 top bar. Then rip a slot down the middle that is about 1/8" deep, then cut a piece of 3/4" the length of the spline you want, then experiment with cutting the spline until you get a width that will fit in the slot, you may or may not have to glue it. Sounds complicated but when you get the hang of it, you can make them pretty fast. That size bar with honey will be rather heavy, so handle with care.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Terre Haute, Indiana
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: How to build cheap top bars.

    Or take the easy route and have this guy make them for you.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/141157722237...84.m1555.l2649

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Montgomery Twp, PA
    Posts
    161

    Default Re: How to build cheap top bars.

    A bigger concern is the width of your hive. 23" is BIG! My wooden Kenyan top bar hive is 17" wide with 19" bars. It's about 10-11" deep. If I had to do it all over again, I'd make it much smaller. The bigger the bars and deeper the hive, the large the combs. You *WILL* have comb collapse. The bars are way too big. Many people use between 15"-17" bars.


    If you are going to stick with it, which I suggest you don't, buy 2 inch long boards. Anything thinner, and your super wide bars will bow. Cut in 1 3/8" strips, then run your pieces down your saw so you get about a 3/4 cm groove down the middle. Use wood glue to glue popsicle sticks down the entire width of the groove.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: How to build cheap top bars.

    Mine are 17.5" long and have a beveled wedge cut onto them. They were not easy to make, but I have seen people do similar by adding a triangle shaped molding onto them. Some people add dowels perpendicular to the bars to prevent collapse, you might try that.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Portland, OR, USA
    Posts
    637

    Default Re: How to build cheap top bars.

    I've made thousands of them myself with a table saw. If I was still making them myself in the garage, I'd probably just cut them to 1 3/8" wide and then put a kerf in them along with a popsicle stick, etc. Today my mill uses a moulder and a shaper to cut thousands at once. Here's a picture of 4,284 of them!

    1506447_10152186149247853_1965841647_n.jpg

    I'm with chr157y on the length issue. At 25", you are going to have MAJOR issues manipulating them, and you'll definitely have combs collapse. Mine are 17.5" and I find this is a good compromise. The longer they get, generally the shorter you need the height of the box/hive. Otherwise they are really hard to manage.

    Best,

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    San Francisco
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: How to build cheap top bars.

    To compensate for the length I was going to put a board in the bottom do it is a few inches shallower. So the combs would be a little more rectangular. Think this is a good idea?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Whitla Ab. Canada
    Posts
    334

    Default Re: How to build cheap top bars.

    Quote Originally Posted by tomcheetoh View Post
    Hello all,
    I have just built a top bar hive body out of a plastic drum, reclaimed lumber and a table top. Now I need to make top bars. I am waiting on a book I ordered on how to build hives, but I was wondering any of you fine people had any experience making your own top bars? My hive body is 23" wide, so my bars will probably be 25" long. Any tips on how to cheaply made good top bars? Thanks in advance. I have a ton of fun building this first hive, I might want to do it again.
    Hello Tom:
    It's easy to make the top bars with the built in wedge on a table saw. With the long length of your bars it might be best, a one piece is stronger.
    -Rip a piece of stock to 1-3/8 by 1-1/4 what ever length you need.( you can use any length and cut them to size after forming the wedges so you don't have to keep resetting the saw.)
    -Set saw blade at 35 degree angle.
    -Set blade height at 1/2" high and 1" from fence.
    -With 1-3/8 side up make a pass to make the first side of the wedge, turn your wood and do another pass
    to make the other side of the wedge.
    -Now set saw blade back to 90 degrees, height of blade 1/2" and fence 7/8" from inside of blade.
    -Run board through with 1-1/4" side up and the uncut 1-3/8 side against fence. This removes the waste from around the wedge.
    -Repeat on other side.
    You should now have a wedge running the full length of the topbar. you will need to remove some of the wedge on each end to fit flat on your hive, so what I do is while I have the blade set for the last cuts I run the top bar through perpendicular to fence, wedge down and run her back and forth until I've removed 1" of wedge on each end. If all goes well they should look like my photos. I made them tonight in all of 15 minutes and sorry about the photo quality I used my cell phone camera and they all weren't quite finished yet. If I get time in the next day or so I'll put together a video showing how I do them.
    Colino
    IMAG0096.jpg
    IMAG0089.jpg
    Last edited by Colino; 01-07-2014 at 03:13 PM.
    A Bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it rains.- Robert Frost

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Montgomery Twp, PA
    Posts
    161

    Default Re: How to build cheap top bars.

    Tom, how deep is the barrel? I put hardware cloth along the bottom of my old hive that was also very deep. It worked well. The bees could get through, but it stopped them from building. It would be worth doing research into kenyan top bars hive (sloaped sides) vs. regular horizontal top bar hives (straight sides). Without angled edges, bees tend to attach the comb to the side. Also, there's something about the angle of the edges making the comb stronger.


    I don't want to crush all of your plans, but it's better to get it right the first time. You don't want to have a horrible summer. I speak from experience. I had to rebuild my hive in August.
    Last edited by chr157y; 01-07-2014 at 05:04 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    San Francisco
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: How to build cheap top bars.

    It is about 11" deep. That's why I was considering putting a bottom board in it. I was going to make it out of wood or maybe mesh screen and cut the bottom out for a screened bottom. I built this hive because there are several people who have used this build successfully. They all say the comb is big and heavy, but no one has said anything about comb collapse. I am not putting all my eggs in one basket though. I am going to build a warre hive, to more normal dimensions. I am only going to make 20 bars for this barrel hive, and see how it goes before I make more this size.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Lizard Creek, Louisiana
    Posts
    361

    Default Re: How to build cheap top bars.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cacklewack View Post
    I've made thousands of them myself with a table saw. If I was still making them myself in the garage, I'd probably just cut them to 1 3/8" wide and then put a kerf in them along with a popsicle stick, etc.

    Best,
    Popsicle sticks is the route I'm taking but man I've just about eaten all the Popsicles I can stand:}
    I got to stop building hives or I'll never be able to eat another Popsicle lol


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Montgomery Twp, PA
    Posts
    161

    Default Re: How to build cheap top bars.

    Quote Originally Posted by Snookie View Post
    I got to stop building hives or I'll never be able to eat another Popsicle lol
    Go to Michael's or A.C. Moore with a coupon. They call popsicle sticks "craft sticks," but they're the exact same thing. You can get a box of 1000 for pretty cheap.
    Christy
    Beekeeping, working mom of 2 little future beekeepers in Pennsylvania.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Montgomery Twp, PA
    Posts
    161

    Default Re: How to build cheap top bars.

    Quote Originally Posted by tomcheetoh View Post
    They all say the comb is big and heavy, but no one has said anything about comb collapse.
    Good to know! Bee very careful with the fresh comb.
    Christy
    Beekeeping, working mom of 2 little future beekeepers in Pennsylvania.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    San Francisco
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: How to build cheap top bars.

    Here is hoping. I am brand new to this, so I fully expect everything to go wrong. But I am trying to prepare as best I can.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,796

    Default Re: How to build cheap top bars.

    I made these Kelley style on my table saw out of any waste wood. Two cuts with the dado and two cuts with the blade.


  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Whitla Ab. Canada
    Posts
    334

    Default Re: How to build cheap top bars.

    [QUOTE=odfrank;1041301]I made these Kelley style on my table saw out of any waste wood. Two cuts with the dado and two cuts with the blade.
    I never thought of using the dado blade, but I think it's easier just to make 4 passes on the table saw that way you don't have to switch blades.
    Colino
    A Bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it rains.- Robert Frost

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,796

    Default Re: How to build cheap top bars.

    [QUOTE=Colino;1041335][QUOTE=I never thought of using the dado blade, but I think it's easier just to make 4 passes on the table saw that way you don't have to switch blades. Colino[/QUOTE]

    I have two table saws. Dado stays on one until I need the shaper blade.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Whitla Ab. Canada
    Posts
    334

    Default Re: How to build cheap top bars.

    [QUOTE=odfrank;1041350]
    Quote Originally Posted by Colino View Post

    I have two table saws. Dado stays on one until I need the shaper blade.
    That's a great idea, I'm trying to get another table saw but the problem is to find one with an arbor long enough to take the dado blade. I have a Skil right now and it's arbor is pretty well maxed out with my dado set at 3/4" so I try not to use it too much. I also have a wobble blade that I can't even use because it won't fit on the arbor. When you do your bars which cut do you do first, the dado or the angle?
    A Bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it rains.- Robert Frost

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,796

    Default Re: How to build cheap top bars.

    [QUOTE=Colino;1041460]
    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    When you do your bars which cut do you do first, the dado or the angle?
    I did the dados first, but for stability of the stock on the last two cuts maybe doing the angles first might be better. I clamped a runner the correct distance from the fence to hold the stock upright. Might be better done on a router table, which I don't have. And I could not find those blades for my molding head.

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