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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Spanaway, WA
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    138

    Default Topbar design feedback

    I have some time until April so I can spend time designing a good hive! Below is a drawing of what I intend to build as of today.

    I'd like some feedback on what people think and if there are changes that would make it better.

    Here's what I had in mind when making the plans:
    0) This is mostly just a modification of a couple sets of plans I saw online.
    1) I don't own a table saw so all cuts have to be done on my sliding compound miter saw, which can cut up to about 12-13"
    - as a corollary to the above things have to be done with whatever width wood is available.
    - I found cheap "paint ready" side glued panels that are 11 7/8 ("12 inches") by 3/4" that are surprisingly cheap, flat, and sturdy!
    2) I choose a 19" total bar size to be semi-compatible with a langstroth. ie so that I could chop&crop if i wanted to or go the other way an put topbars into a lang, if I was making a nuc some day. Or maybe if I bought an observation hive, with a little modification I could direct drop in topbars.
    3) To maintain roughly 60 degree wall angle I needed to choose a 1x8 (3/4x7 1/4 actual) as the bottom board.
    4) I put a square frame around the whole thing because I plan on adding a hinged lid. but I assume the design is not really important to the bees so I've left it out for now, same with the legs.

    I don't have an entrance yet. What do people think about where it should go? I'm considering just a gap between the lid on one end for a top entrance.

    (note thats a follower board in the center, having it in the drawing made the assembly easier make)
    drawing.jpg

    EDIT: odd the image got resized and dimensions are impossible to read. Here's a close up of the cutaway.

    Untitled.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
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    626

    Default Re: Topbar design feedback

    Nice CAD work. Off the top of my head, I would be concerned that there isn't enough play between your lid frame and your bars and that your cavity is a bit deep. I just changed my box dimensions a bit with my new nuc to be a little wider to fit Lang bars but shallower at the same time (now 8 7/8" dp). In essence the same volume as before but more versatile. I did have a few comb collapses with the old size but that wasn't what drove the change. My other concern is the Small Hive Beetle hiding spots at the bottom because you aren't able to chamfer the boards. I have really been working at giving them nowhere to hide. I know some don't worry about that but if it were me I would try to get them chamfered on the bottom if possible. I think they are fine at the top though.
    3rd yr - 1 KTBH & 4 KTBH nucs - TF - USDA Zn 6b

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Hardin Cty, KY, USA
    Posts
    112

    Default Re: Topbar design feedback

    there are better and easier out there. I build and I wouldn't bother with that.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Spanaway, WA
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    138

    Default Re: Topbar design feedback

    It's amazing how good CAD programs are these days

    According to wikipedia (not sure how accurate that is) We don't have SHB here one the west coast (where I live and my packages is coming from. But since that cavity is screened it may still be a good idea to keep other critters out. If its just two ripcuts I could probably convince a work friend to do it for me.

    OTOH a small cavity could help me with mite counts (if I put a white sticky sheet on the bottom board)

    Whats a good interior depth? 8.5" 9"?

    For a 19inch top bar should the top interior width be 17 giving an inch over hang, or should I make it 18 giving half an inch overhang?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Spanaway, WA
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    138

    Default Re: Topbar design feedback

    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan Thacker View Post
    there are better and easier out there. I build and I wouldn't bother with that.
    better and easier what?

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

    Default Re: Topbar design feedback

    If you don't have SHB that is great and then I wouldn't worry about adding the chamfer. I made a temporary hive last year and used 10" boards for the sides because that is what I had on hand. I never had a comb collapses with that one but since I have only had two with the deeper cavities it could be a moot point. Michael Bush has a really simple design on his website, you might take a look at that for ideas. Philip Chandler has a free download of his hive design on the biobees website you could look at too. You might check out Les Crowder's design too. I think deknow posted it or part of it in a thread a while back.

    I would now size the interior to take a Lang comb with the wood frame sides removed but the ones that came on my first hive (that is the one I purchased) were 17.5" long and the wedge was around 15" or 15.25" long.

    I didn't like the screen bottom so I have solid now, and I didn't like having the bottom middle of the side entrances so I moved them to the top of the side near the ends. Lots of different opinions on this, seems to really depend on the person.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Spanaway, WA
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    138

    Default Re: Topbar design feedback

    Michael Bush's design (http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm) is mostly where I started from (1x12's for the sides, 1x6 for the bottom), I just made the top wider to accommodate 19" bars vs 15" bars, which is what his design uses. Assuming he uses the same "one by twelves" and -"by sixes" that I can get (11.25" and 5.25") that would put his hive at 10.464" deep

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    London, United Kingdom
    Posts
    184

    Default Re: Topbar design feedback

    My first hive was as per phil chandler free plans and then subsequantly I have messed around with them. I didn't use a table saw at any point in producing my hives (mostly because I can only do this stuff of an evening and my wife think it would wake the kids ).

    You don't need a squared frame for a hinged lid.
    2013-09-05 21.00.21.jpg
    As you can see the lid (when closed) sits on the tops of the legs. There is a strip along the back to screw the hinges into.
    For an entrance this one has a periscope entrance to help with 1) heat retention 2) reduce mite drop onto returning bees 3) confuse wasps.
    2013-09-01 15.45.01.jpg
    2013-09-01 15.45.07.jpg
    This one was achieved by just boxing in the legs giving a low outside entrance coming in high on the inside. By putting it on the end this hive is long enough to have an entrance on each end so will take two medium size colonies. The only problem with doing the entrance this way is the leg cannot easily be removed if want to. The next hive I made had a periscope entrance made by routing out the back of a piece of 2/4.
    2013-09-28 11.30.53.jpg
    2013-09-28 11.30.57.jpg
    2013-09-28 11.31.10.jpg
    This makes the entrance much more defensible for the bees and means I can still remove the legs should I want to.
    Putting the floor on is often easier once the sides are attached to the ends. You can do this be making a 2X follower boards (dummy boards) the size of your expected comb attach them to topbar and place them upside down (this is illustrated quite well in phil chandlers designs. You then lay the sides onto the followers boards and fix the end. You can then attach the bottom without worrying about it impacting on your dimensions. I do it this way anyway as I use mesh flooring. Good luck!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,457

    Default Re: Topbar design feedback

    535713_385754671466771_306979161_n.jpg

    The entrance to this TBH I built a few years ago was just above the bottom board on the ends. I also built a custom entrance feeder that I could install on one of the ends. The bottom board was screened by removing the center of the board and stapling screen to the opening. The roof was completely removable due to the fact I like my fingers a lot. A quick burst of wind and the hinged top may come crashing shut on whatever is in the way. Bees don't like extremely loud noises either.
    One more aspect I should cover..... ventillation. I built a dummy top bar with (2) 3/4" holes and covered it with screen. Then I drilled a 3/4" hole on each end of the gable and screened them. This way you get ventillation thoughout the hive.

  10. #10
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    Jun 2012
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    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
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    626

    Default Re: Topbar design feedback

    Quote Originally Posted by cnt View Post
    Michael Bush's design (http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm) is mostly where I started from (1x12's for the sides, 1x6 for the bottom), I just made the top wider to accommodate 19" bars vs 15" bars, which is what his design uses. Assuming he uses the same "one by twelves" and -"by sixes" that I can get (11.25" and 5.25") that would put his hive at 10.464" deep
    So it sounds like the depth is just fine then. Comb collapses are miserable so I was just trying to help. At any rate, less work on this one is probably better. No matter what you do you will find things about it you would like to tweak (going by the fact you modeled it) after you get bees in it and it is being used.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Hardin Cty, KY, USA
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    112

    Default Re: Topbar design feedback

    Quote Originally Posted by cnt View Post
    better and easier what?
    Designs and plans. Like the title of the thread suggests.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,387

    Default Re: Topbar design feedback

    The only angled cut in my design is to make the comb guides. The sides, the ends, are all square cuts. None of the boards are ripped. Basically, not counting the bars, there are five cuts to make the entire hive and all of them are to length. If you want it wider, just use a one by eight or a one by ten instead of the one by six and add the difference to the ends. i.e. the ends are 15" with the one by six. If you use a one by eight, make them 17". If you use a one by ten make them 19".
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Whitla Ab. Canada
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    334

    Default Re: Topbar design feedback

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    T If you use a one by eight, make them 17".
    I prefer my bars to be 17" by 1-1/4" because they can be easily be converted to fit in a Langstroth. I just screw a 1"x 3/8" x 19" piece onto the top bar and add frame ends and a bottom bar. I do this because my swarm traps are all mini topbar hives and it makes it so I can move my swarm catches into either a lang or top bar hive without cutting comb.
    A Bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it rains.- Robert Frost

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Lizard Creek, Louisiana
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    365

    Default Re: Topbar design feedback

    Here's how I rolled:}

    http://www.biobees.com/build-a-beehive-free-plans.php

    Turned out YALLOW lol

    [IMG][/IMG]

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Ramona, Ca. , USA
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    33

    Default Re: Topbar design feedback

    I really like to see every ones hive designs. they are all a little different, but a lot the same. I am new to beekeeping.
    After watching countless u tubes on how to build a top bar hive. I followed (wranglerstar.com) on my plans. Making changes
    that I wanted. I only used a sliding compound saw to cut everything.
    For the starter strip on the bars I set the angle at 30 degrees and ripped a 1 x 12 flip the board rip again and you have a triangle.
    Glue and nail to your bars.
    I ordered a package of bees, due in april. I can hardly wait.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Isle of Wight, VA
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    401

    Default Re: Topbar design feedback

    I'd highly recommend a viewing window. TBH lends itself perfectly to this and it's wonderful to be able to look inside the bee world. (your kids will love it too). With this crazy winter we have had, I can take a peak and see what is going on inside the hive without having to guess if they are ok. This is a picture of my window. Long glass is expensive so I went to the thrift store and bought one of the large pictures. It gave me enough glass for 4 hives.


    IMG_1849_zpsd6f96fcf.jpg
    Last edited by ruthiesbees; 02-11-2014 at 07:39 AM. Reason: fix photo

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    London, United Kingdom
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    184

    Default Re: Topbar design feedback

    My next model will definitely have a viewing window. Though I need to ensure there is still sufficient heat retention (it gets cold here).
    In the meantime I was think of making follower boards with perspex windows so I can check in on the colony from either side without ever breaking the propolis seal, and it is an easy retrofit.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Spanaway, WA
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    138

    Default Re: Topbar design feedback

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    I'd highly recommend a viewing window.
    I'm keeping bees mostly because I think they're really interesting/amazing. So I'll definitely take that advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    Long glass is expensive so I went to the thrift store and bought one of the large pictures. It gave me enough glass for 4 hives.
    IMG_1849_zpsd6f96fcf.jpg
    I was thinking about where to find glass. I found out that tempered glass shelves come in pretty nice sizes for viewing windows and can be really cheap (I found an 8"x36" tempered glass shelf for $6 online). Since I live near an Ikea I may just drive out there and buy a shelf from them.

    I also plan on installing a camera on the follower board so I can watch them over the internet

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Isle of Wight, VA
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    Default Re: Topbar design feedback

    Quote Originally Posted by cnt View Post
    I also plan on installing a camera on the follower board so I can watch them over the internet
    Please post more about the camera when you get it going. I've been trying various (inexpensive) cameras and I've not found one that I like. I even borrowed my mom's birdhouse camera, but couldn't get the focal point just right.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Spanaway, WA
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    Default Re: Topbar design feedback

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    Please post more about the camera when you get it going. I've been trying various (inexpensive) cameras and I've not found one that I like. I even borrowed my mom's birdhouse camera, but couldn't get the focal point just right.
    Will do. It'll be a semi-custom (but easy) job so I plan on making a write up.

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