Top Bar Hive Construction
Dennis Murrell

This is the plan for my Top Bar Hive. The sides consist of three 1"x6"s. The bottom consist of two 1"x6"s. It is sloped 22.5 degrees off vertical and can hold 26 top bars, which are 1-1/4"s wide by 24"s long and a follower board or 27 top bars. The sides, bottom, and ends are cut to size and then glued together before assembly. Materials needed are:

Qty - Item
7 - 1"x6"x6'
3 - 2"x4" studs
3 - 1"x4"x6'
1 - 26"x36" plywood
1 - 23"x36"x1" insulation

I'm still toying with the idea of a sloped cover rather than a flat one as planned and haven't built the follower board. I have about $36 invested which is about 1/3 the cost of an equivalent conventional hive. Paint will have to wait for warmer weather.

The hive ends consist of 3 pieces. Two 1"x6"x24, two 1"x6"x20, and two 1"x6"x17. The actual lengths will depend upon the actual width of the lumber which can vary. I make them a little larger and trim to size later.

The sides consist of six pieces. All six are 1"x6"x35-3/8".

[IMG alt="The 26 topbars are 1-1/4"wide x 3/4"thick x 24"long. They are cut from 2" pieces of 2"x4"s. A 1/8" saw kerf is cut down the middle of each bar. A 1/4" x 7/8" chunk is taken off each end of the topbar. Then a 1/4" slot is cut in the middle of each topbar for the vertical support piece. The 16 vertical support pieces are 1/4"thick x 3/4"wide and 13-5/8"long. They will support my brood comb. I am leaving 10 bars without the vertical supports. Maybe it will be easier to harvest honey without them."][/IMG]​

This shot taken from the rear of the hive, shows the cluster of bees on top bars 1 through 9. It's interesting to note how the bees hang from and work the edge of the blank starter strip. Posted: 18-May-2003

From the rear of the hive, top bar number 5 had the largest amount of drawn comb. Top bars 6-9 had no drawn comb. Notice how the bees hang from the edge of the starter strip and not the topbar. Comb is constructed below the lower edge of the starter strip and then the bees at some later time construct comb from that lower edge to the top bar. Starter strips, especially blank ones, may not be a good idea. The cells are visibly larger than small cell size and the Y's are oriented horizontally. Posted: 18-May-2003

A shot of topbar number 4. The Y's are oriented horizontally. Posted: 18-May-2003

A shot of topbar number 3. This topbar was the last with drawn comb although the cluster extended to the front of the hive. The Y's are oriented about 15 degrees below horizontal in this comb and the cells are larger than small cell size. Posted: 18-May-2003