Top Bar Hive Designs

Barbara Bajec and Mel Bartels

Got to thinking, I'm getting older and Langstroth hives were not getting lighter. Storing boxes upon boxes full of drawn frames was getting to be tedious in my small workshop. I needed to try something different in my apiary. I settled on trying a top-bar hive (TBH). Prices on the web and beekeeping catalogues ranged from $100 to $500 for a complete TBH with various options. None of the designs met all of my desires, so I decided to combine designs to create my own. This ended up costing less than $100 for the pine wood, screws, paint and glue. A table saw and drill was all that was needed.

I've found the benefits to be:
1) Treatment free
2) The bees make their own foundation, so I don't have to buy any
3) Easy to manipulate
4) Less disruptive to the bees by handing one top bar at a time
5) Honey extraction is crush and drain, so less equipment needed

The design has evolved over the last four years:
1) More space for the bees
2) Inceasing the side slope to 30 degrees (sides made from pine boards 1x12, which is slightly deeper than many other designs)
3) Handles permanently attached to the TBH
4) Continue to simplify the pitched roof

Here's the Sketchup model...

Reference books I found helpful:
Top-Bar Beekeeping, Organic Practices for Honeybee Health by Les Crowder and Heather Harrell
The Practical Beekeeper, Beekeeping Naturally by Michael Bush
Top-Bar Hive Beekeeping: Wisdom & Pleasure Combined by Wyatt A. Mangum, PhD.

Our older TBH designs are still available...