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I need all the advice I can find!

3387 Views 11 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  beeking1
My name is Jessica, from Oklahoma. I'm just beginning hobbyist beekeeping (hoping to start with maybe two hives and probably won't ever have very many more than that) and have been researching top bar hives. My friend, who works for a Langstroth beekeeper, says his boss worries that a top bar hive won't give you enough room for expansion...bees might not make it through winters. What do you all think?
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757 Posts
Hi jessica, welcome to beekeeping
im by no means an expert keeper but i learn from things i and others have tried

years ago i wanted to do the TBH because i was a worried about the cost of the 10 frame equiptment and hives i built 2 TBH out of pine and the lumber came to about $60 if i remember - and i had to cut a grove in all of the top parts and pour beeswax in to that.. and then i put the bees in it ..

all was good until about 2 mounths into it and the bees had made comb in every which direction --- it was a mess - i could not inspect it without tearing the comb and it would fall, loosing brood all the time -
also i had one that made lots of drone comb - i even took a bar of worker cell from the other hive and put it in there and they ignored that and just made drone cells around it - errrr
also only one hive made it to winter and then died by janurary - do to not having enought honey

i think that the TBH do work but maybe if they are in Africa or way south so that they dont have to store as much -

anyhow - after that i fount that the 10 frame was about the same cost
and i could inspect and mangage the hives better -

hope this helps with the decison

· Registered
358 Posts
Jessica- welcome to the forum. I'm in the TX panhandle. I don't use top bar hives, so no help there. But you have come to a place with a wealth of knowledge and lots of helpful folks. My best advice, everything you can get your hands on. The biggest obstacle to new beeks is the learning curve. Ask tons of questions and don't get discouraged.

· Registered
36 Posts
My first year I had a tbh and a lang. I really enjoyed watching the bees build comb just from a starter strip. I thought it was very cool and a good way to start. They made it through the minnesota winter until mid april when we had a sudden cold snap and they starved just inches from stores, the same as can happen with langs. It was too late to order a package to replace them but I plan on putting bees back in it next year.


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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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I'm glad you pointed out that the same things happen in Langs, because it's true. They starve inches from food sometimes because they are caring for some brood and won't leave it.

A follower can be used and is probably a good idea. I've been too lazy (or busy) to make one so I have kept them for years in TBHs without a follower. Bees are very adaptable.

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187 Posts
Hi Jessica,
I ordered my TBH from and Joey there mentored me also. I had never been inside a hive before. I read every night. It has been a wondrous and joyful, fun experience so far. The bees were out flying the other day in the hundreds, but there is still the rest of the winter to get through. If you can build your own, they are cheaper to make, but Joey's are very reasonable. I have decided not to treat the varroa mites (for now), and I am feeding them dry sugar. I have hay stacked around it to protect them from the wind and on top to insulate. I am adding two or three or more hives this spring.
Check out Michael Bush's website, the above, and google top bar hives for tons of info, then go! Good luck!

· Banned
775 Posts
Aloha Jessica,

one thing to remember about using TBH hives from Langstroth hives is that they are not the same thing.

Think of beekeeping as similar to driving.

Many many people drive cars. They learn to drive them and spend perhaps all their lives, if not most of them, driving cars.

But driving doesn't only consist of cars does it?

there are folks who drive ( ride, operate) motorcycles and semi-trucks too. You don't drive a motorcycle or a tractor-trailer the same way you drive a car.

It requires a bit of a different approach and management style.

If you try to drive a tractor-trailer like a car, you will not likely be successful, no matter how long you have been driving cars.

You manage TBH's differently from Langs. That's all.

keep on truckin,

Big Bear

· Registered
25 Posts
Depends on your finances as to what you will need and can make. You can use the Langstroth frames and TURN the strip that holds the purchased foundation vertically to form a top bar and tack/glue it into place; use nylon stocking if you wish to roughen this bar up. Using Langs are great as you have "bee space" and no major overgrowth of burr comb. Lang frames are not that expensive if you buy the ready to assemble and use a small tack hammer to do so.
There is no question from our experience, never start beekeeping with less than TWO hives and two pkgs of bees. We started with THREE and lost one hive. We combined hive #3 with hive #1 and learned from that. As it turns out, each hive has a different personality even with the same variety of bees-we started with Italian bees who are well known robbers! Our number #2 hive was vibrant and always overgrown with bees who defended their hive well!
We have never used any chemicals other than Honey Bee Healthy and added some of our own essential oils e.g. spearmint and German Camomille which are well known teas. Adding these essential oils or brewed tea works well along with a screened bottom board for controlling the major pest of mites. :eek:
We are moving to Buckfast Bees and a Buckfast hybrid this year as these breeds are more disease resistant, mite resistant, better honey producers, more cold tolerant and reportedly more gentle than those Italian bees.
Note Well ! We don't mind getting stung as we use the bees for apitherapy on ourselves only. This has been after steroid injections, Motrin, Aspirin and the like. A few stings (depending on the time of year) goes a long way....even up to three weeks.
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