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I am about to build a top bar hive. I need opinions on the lenght. 3 foot? or 4 foot? The plan I have suggest 3 foot but others suggest 4 foot. What do you think? All input welcome:)




Thanks
kenny
 

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Just under 4 feet so they don't get too crowded and swarm often, have a place to store honey, and so that you can use an 8 foot board cut in half for the roof.
 

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Right around 4 ft. I've seen somewhere that at 3 ft swarming is unlikely and at 5 ft they never use the back foot or so. Think about what you are building the roof out of... Chances are it'll end up at 4 ft and the hive body slightly shorter.
 

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Choose your bar size FIRST then count the bars that will make up around 4 foot go just short so you can cut 8 foot lumber in half like Colleen said. Things to take into consideration: a blade on a table saw, circular saw is 1/8th inch wide so cutting 8 foot lumber in half will not be exactly 4 foot, you need a 1/4 inch spacer against each wall front and back to maintain the bee space between the wall and the first and last comb face so you will need to add this 1/2 in. to your bar calculation. Build the hive around the bars and you wont come up short anywhere and waste materials.
 

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Choose your bar size FIRST then count the bars that will make up around 4 foot go just short so you can cut 8 foot lumber in half like Colleen said. Things to take into consideration: a blade on a table saw, circular saw is 1/8th inch wide so cutting 8 foot lumber in half will not be exactly 4 foot, you need a 1/4 inch spacer against each wall front and back to maintain the bee space between the wall and the first and last comb face so you will need to add this 1/2 in. to your bar calculation. Build the hive around the bars and you wont come up short anywhere and waste materials.
A lot of 8 foot boards are 8 foot plus .25 to .5 inches, so you may actually be able to get two 4 foot pieces. Also, make a few narrow spacers because once the humidity in the hive increases, the top bars are going to swell a little, plus warp slightly, so all 30 bars or whatever isn't going to fit perfectly and you will need something to fill the gap
 

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A lot of 8 foot boards are 8 foot plus .25 to .5 inches, so you may actually be able to get two 4 foot pieces. Also, make a few narrow spacers because once the humidity in the hive increases, the top bars are going to swell a little, plus warp slightly, so all 30 bars or whatever isn't going to fit perfectly and you will need something to fill the gap
I wish the load of lumber I just bought was like that everything is 8 foot on the money. Its worth checking before you buy.
 

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Start longer, it is easier to cut them down than to make them longer. Mine are all 4 feet long.
 

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My first hive was 3 foot but they filled it up the first season. All of mine are now 4'. It makes more efficient use of the dimension lumber also.
 

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For my roofs, I use a plastic panel that is sold as a ridge cap/skylight for metal pole buildings. The panels are 10 1/2 feet long by 2ft wide and run around 15.00 each. I cut them in half, cost about 7.50 each plus the patio pavers to hold them down. Simple, easy, and plenty of overhang. They can be cut to cover any sized hive from a Nuc to a 5 footer so would not be limiting to your build.

TopBar47.jpg
 

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Kenny, I agree with most of the posters. I have a couple of 3 footers. They are okay but they are filled from end to end. If the bees get ahead of me like they did last year the last four bars (in both hives) have slightly curved comb, each crossing two bars with the rear most attached to the back wall. I had to work the hive from the front and removed several of the drawn bars to have access to cut side attachments and such. I left all 4 of those bars for winter feed, more probably spring feed or beekeeper spring harvest. If they are still there in a few more weeks I will harvest all 4 as groups. If the bees have emptied them, which I doubt they did, I will separate the combs to individual bars using the squish straightening method.
With my "shorties" I find it necessary to pull several, usually 6 bars, to have enough room to get my hive tool in and cut out attachment comb or reach in for any "junk" that falls inside. In my case, I remove the drawn bars, brood if starting from the front or nectar/honey if starting from the rear and temporarily put those bars in a 7 frame nuc I built from scrap lumber. Its not a problem you just learn to work with what you have. For me, that's finding the balance between thumbs and frontal lobes. The fact that you are asking questions tells me you are using the lobes!
The other item to consider is the volume of the hives, more specifically the topbar length and hive height. Some of the plans I've seen have shallow cavities meaning you would probably want to be bigger in the other dimensions.
My 2 cents.
Fabian
 
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