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Hey Everyone,

Im very new to this. I want to build my own top bar hive, something similar to Corwin Bells golden mean hive except with a few adjustments. Based on what i've read here it should be longer and make sure to build it with a pitched roof. I was wondering if anyone had any plans that they would be willing to share of hives that they have built and work for them. I have a pretty decent wood shop so i should have all the tools needed. Thanks in advance
 

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I was wondering if anyone had any plans that they would be willing to share of hives that they have built and work for them. I have a pretty decent wood shop so i should have all the tools needed. Thanks in advance
There's a hint of a suggestion in the above that there are some TBH's which perhaps don't work - or which don't work too well ?

I invite you to look at this picture, which is of a guy building TBH's with no plans, minimum tools, and minimum skill ... in Africa (which was initially the intended country for modern TBH's):



These days, an Internet search will return a copious amount of 'First-World' plans for Top Bar Hives - many of which will claim magic measurements and ratios and so forth - but it's all just so much BS. Knock up a simple box, string top bars across it and put something on top to keep the weather off - that's basically all they need. If you live somewhere where it gets cold (hint: it's always a good idea to include location in your member profile), then include some insulation on top of the Top Bars.

Just curious - why a Top Bar Hive ? If you already have woodworking tools and a modest amount of skill, there are many other designs of hive to choose from, some of which may prove to be more suitable for a beginner.
'best
LJ
 

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Corwin based the "backyard" hive off Marty Hardison's hive
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1hLGJYX3QKDU3dXS0JkeUNRWlU/view
I have run a moded version for 10 years (1x10 sides in stead of 1x11 and change) and have been happy with them, I had ornaialy built the crowder style (1x10s at degrees so it fits a lang topbar) but gave it away, I found (as Marty Claimed) the the shorter top bar had less cross comb.. I much prefer a 3/4-1/2" triangle strip stapled to the top bar vs the full with triangle guide on the golden mean (I have 2 that I was given after they became an unworkabul cross comb mess, they are OK in my hands, but take more adjusting vs the Hardisons)
mine are cut at 37-38 inches (ish) so that I could get all the long sides out of a 1x10 , I would indeed like some extra space if I were going to do it again

I would steer clear of Corwin and his Bee (death cult) Guardians, always repaceing massive losses (swarm chasing, buying bees, yuck) and people up that way say there is eunff of them that even treating keepers take much higher then the state average losses.
 

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hey little john,

thanks for the advice. I went and updated my profile. Yes I live in the cold so insulation would be a must. I chose top bar because that is what I was told to look into by a friend, I was also told its a more natural way of bee keeping. I have never kept bees before so I am open to any and all advice.
 

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Thanks for the advice MSL. I will read the article you sent along. If Corwins info is so misguiding is there someone else you would recommend taking a look at?
 

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I used the plans from here: https://mistressbeek.com/

They are easy to build and very quick. I currently have 6 top bar hives. For a roof on top I use vinyl roofing panels cut to size with rope tied around the hive to keep it in place. .
 

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I was also told its a more natural way of bee keeping.
There is nothing natural about putting bees into a box, be it a top bar or a lang, makes no difference. Now if you really want to be 'natural' with european honey bees in Ontario, the correct plan of attack is to treat them like any other invasive species, and target for extermination. they are an introduced agricultural critter that is not native to the continent.
 

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I chose top bar because that is what I was told to look into by a friend, I was also told its a more natural way of bee keeping
There is a chance you are getting bad advice. If your friend is a successful topbar beekeeper (regularly keeps thier bees alive over winter and doesn't have to buy any/swarm catch come spring) willing to mentor you, that's one thing.
IMO the only reason for a new beekeeper to start with a Alt hive is if the price of a lanstroth set up is a large barrier
I love my topbars, but feel they take more elbow grease and are less forgiving to new bee mistakes.
I got lucky and Marty was runing monthly /byweekely classes for a local CSA at $5 a pop the year I got bees I got to go threw a whole year of beekeeping tasks on live hives for a pitance... from spring maintenance, splits, queen rearing, tree cut outs, etc to wax prosesing in the off season.
I creidet my success to this education, alter in life my skills made running langs a breeze (execpt all the hevy darn lifting)
 

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Now if you really want to be 'natural' with european honey bees in Ontario, the correct plan of attack is to treat them like any other invasive species, and target for extermination.
Hmm, I think that is taking the whole naturalistic approach just a tad bit too far.:)

Re: the top bar being more natural, how so? Forcing bees to build their hive sideways when their inclination is to build vertically does not seem natural at all. I always considered top bar hive to be more for the convenience of the beekeeper. Of course, this is coming from someone who does not have a TBH, take it for what it is worth.
 

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Re: the top bar being more natural, how so?
Any form of removable comb makes a beehive 'unnatural' (Frame or Top Bar) - likewise comb attachments which are dead straight in two dimensions. Installing combs at two different spacings - for Brood and Stores - is likewise unnatural. Only one form of comb and spacing exists within a natural bee-nest.

At the risk of starting a war of words, I'd suggest that a frame is actually more 'natural' than a Top Bar, insomuch as it provides a means of attachment at the sides of a comb - which is what bees always attempt to generate, and what the angled sides of a Kenyan Top Bar Hive attempts to thwart.

Indeed, if Horizontal Top Bar beekeepers are successful in their goal of preventing such side attachments, gaps more-or-less identical to those at the sides of frames will then be formed. It is such gaps around frames which are frequently alleged to be both unnatural and hazardous to the well-being of a honeybee colony. Pot - kettle - black. :)
LJ
 

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Yes I live in the cold so insulation would be a must.
I would not worry too much about insulation. There are plenty of beekeepers in the colder parts of the world that do not use any and their bees make it through winter just fine. As I have stated before, you can add all the insulation you like but it does little good when the door is wide open. And the door on a beehive is always open.
 

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I bought Corwin’s plans for the Golden Mean top bar hive. I modified it by making it an extra 10” longer. The plans included blueprints for making a peaked roof.

This is my first beehive. I bought a 3# package last year and I’m starting to see bees flying around on warmer days, so I think they have survived the winter.

I did an alcohol mite wash in August and didn’t find any mites.

So far, so good. I’ve ordered another package for this year.

Good luck.
 

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Hi- I’m a newbie in my 50’s and liked the idea of not having to lift heavy supers and boxes and didn’t want to have to rely on help. I built A box with Corwin’s plans. I installed a package of bees 4/11. I am now scrambling to build a bigger box based on Phil Chandlers books. The Corbin Bell box is TOO small! I’m pissed because I am now worried that my colony is going to swarm- it’s only been just less than a month and they are tight on space. When I bought the plans fo rather golden mean hive, I ordered top bars- they sent me the bars with the pass through- those are dumb and over thought IMO. This colony had no problem building a beautiful sturdy comb off of the flat top bar I had in there as a spacer bar! This is a journey of learning and exploration. BTW I’m also not in it for honey production- mostly for pollinator encouragement and learning.
 

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I’m pissed because I am now worried that my colony is going to swarm- it’s only been just less than a month and they are tight on space
that is the way with topbars.. split, harvest honey, or swarm!
 

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I'd be happy to share my top bar hive design with you.
I put 2 quilts (one is wool,the top one is polyester) over the bars, whixh creates a stable temp environment and dissipates some of the humidity.
Send me DM.
 

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I built A box with Corwin’s plans. I installed a package of bees 4/11. I am now scrambling to build a bigger box based on Phil Chandlers books. The Corbin Bell box is TOO small! I’m pissed because I am now worried that my colony is going to swarm- it’s only been just less than a month and they are tight on space. When I bought the plans fo rather golden mean hive, I ordered top bars- they sent me the bars with the pass through- those are dumb and over thought IMO.
Just use Corwin’s plans and add to the length. It works great that way. That will allow you to swap bars between hives, too.

I think the benefit of the passage holes becomes apparent in winter. It’s an extra step in bar building, but my bees survived the winter with them, so I am still using them. I’m making other modifications instead.

I am thinking of building a Golden Mean Hive to spec and use it to increase my apiary. Once I have enough hives, I can use it as a bait hive or swarm catcher.
 

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I think the benefit of the passage holes becomes apparent in winter.
I say it's more "bee guardian" malarkey from Corwin to sell overpriced top bar hives to gullible newbies.
 
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