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I've been thinking about adding some top bar hives to my bee yard...it seems every time I work the hives I end up pulling a back muscle. I am just turning 70 years old and have no one helping me, so I do all the lifting myself. Thinking the top bars might be just the ticket. Any ideas or suggestions?

Beecuz


"...for breath is sweeter taken even as the last in places dear...
with gardens, fields and dogwood trees...
in forest stands of bamboo shoots, with ginger root and honey bees..."
 

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I am still new to this, but here are my thoughts so far.

In Florida, I would say go for it! At 9400 ft in Colorado in early May- maybe not (lost my bees to cold last week). Going to re-introduce the hive up there next week though, it was just terrible timing on my part. Hive here in Denver at a mile high is doing great though.

Make sure you build or buy one with an observation window. It is fun to see what's going on in there, but being a seasoned beek, you may not care as much. The bigger the window and the hive the better also. Some are 36 inches long, some are much longer. In a warm climate with a good long season, I would lean towards larger for sure.
 

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I love my TBH kit that I bought from beeline apiaries. $165 landed and that was with a metal roof. Only modification that I made was the observation window, and I'm glad I did. It gets me so much closer to the bees without actually disturbing them by going thru their home. Last year started out with 1 TBH and this year I am up to 3. I don't believe with my bad hips and knees that I could keep bees the traditional way, but with the TBH, I can certainly lift the bar of comb without any problems.
 

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What about Long Langs? That way you can just move your bees into it from their current hive type.
 

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I agree with Colleen. I started with Langs, then built a Kenyan Top Bar to Chandler's specs and added some extras, an observation window, a hinged top and fancy legs. The window does save a lot of stress. But the frames are shorter than the 19" langstoth which meant I had to add extension arms to some that I placed in other hives to grow some quick comb, brood and stores.

The current hive I am building is a horizontal Langstoth that will fit 40 frames inspired by: www.beebehavior.com/modified_european_long_hive.php. I will use the traditional Lang frames for the brood and top bars for honey. The top-bars are quicker and cheaper to build . We use the crush and strain harvesting method and want the extra wax.

Not sure if I'll put a window in this one as I'm thinking to keep it simple enough to inspire the local islanders to build their own. Even the top will be a lift off, which will be the biggest weight I will have to contend with, once its set up.
Being in my mid sixties, I dread having to lift a box of 10 deeps loaded with brood or honey. I know lots of people are going with shorter framed boxes, but then the brood is broken up between boxes.

I'm looking forward to completing this project as I think it offers the best of all worlds.
 

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I'm new but I love my TBH. I built it and I made sure the top was a light as possible because it's the type that lifts completely off. The observation window is the best part. I made mine the whole length of the hive and almost the whole height too. Since the bees build comb right to the glass, I can see eggs in the cells, when they've capped it. If you time it right you can watch babies emerging. You can look in everyday and see if the feeder is low, look for cross comb, etc. It's great.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FTPiYKPWOU
 

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I'm new but I love my TBH. I built it and I made sure the top was a light as possible because it's the type that lifts completely off. The observation window is the best part. I made mine the whole length of the hive and almost the whole height too. Since the bees build comb right to the glass, I can see eggs in the cells, when they've capped it. If you time it right you can watch babies emerging. You can look in everyday and see if the feeder is low, look for cross comb, etc. It's great.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FTPiYKPWOU
Neat...like a working observation hive. I noticed you have the feeder on the bee side...no problems with comb building on it?
 

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I noticed you have the feeder on the bee side...no problems with comb building on it?
Yes that was a problem. I thought when I installed the package that they would start on the bar closest to the entrance but they clustered right over the feeder and had comb attached to the glass jar within 3 days. I had to tear the comb to refill the feeder. D'oh!
 

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New to beekeeping as well, but the top bar hives have been a pure pleasure. As others have already stated, the observation window enhances the experience mightily.
 
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