Top Bar Hive Design Plans



Top Bar Hives are Beautiful in Simplicity

They are the minimum needed for a movable comb hive. Elegant in their design, simplistic in their management, and wonderfully inexpensive.  Per dollar spent on hives, top bar hives produce more honey than langstroth. For this reason, and their ability to be produced correctly in rural third world locations without power tools, they are the right hive in the hinterlands where the poorest of the poor live.  The US Peace Corps endorse and teach these hives, that speaks volumes.

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Beekeeping using Top Bar hive


Top Bars in Texas need a little design change. Wider and Shallower as this distributes more weight on more length thereby reducing comb failures. The 100+ F heat we get here can lower the tension capability on wax comb, if you manipulate it, you can break comb easy.    If you do break a comb, use a woman’s hair clip to clip on the comb, then tie – wrap the clip to the top bar. The bees will reattach.


As for designs…


The design I like best is the one from Les Crowder

Top Bar Hive Design / Plans


I did modify it a bit. Instead of using the 1×10 for the sides, i used two 1×6 instead because they were free fence planks from my neighbors old fence.  Put the extra overlap on the bottom side, keep the ‘upside’ even with the top of the end piece.


The video on how to make them is . . .



Be sure to watch my video on how to make your top bars, themselves.



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13 Responses to “Top Bar Hive Design Plans”

  1. John says:


    Looking at your videos has been very educational. I am in the planning phase of building my TBH. I have been noticing that in some of your videos for maintaince, I see your hive openings at the bottom ends running horizontally. On the making of TBH videos you have the 2 inch diameter holes drilled. On the plans here on your website it shows a opening made on the long side at the bottom. In your experiences with the forementioned entrances, what works best?


  2. Jennifer H. says:

    What are the dimensions of your hives? (upper width, lower width, depth, length of hive?)

  3. Gerry H says:

    Good day, MT. I notice you use the sloping side of the Kenyan TBH. I have read repeatedly that this does not inhibit side attachments. I think it does offer the advantage of better support for the comb from below in hot weather. What are your thoughts?

    All the best,

  4. Jeff Da ReF says:

    The construction of the Top Bar hive is fairly simple, just a couple questions:

    You use 1×10, how long?

    How long should the top bars be?

    What are the angles for the end pieces?


    Jeff Da Ref

  5. Estelle says:

    You designed this from models used in hot countries. I live in Canada. What would the changed be for cold weather. Should the wood be thicker? Would the bottom be closed up in stead of the open hardware cloth?

  6. Pale Rider says:

    The video is great but would you please email me the plans for making this beehive? My father will help and he is not computer savy but is a great builder. What modifications would you make to the plans for cold weather because I live in Michigan.


  7. walter wade says:

    i am looking fore the plans to building a top bar hive i have watch sevral viedo but non give all the sizes

  8. jen storey says:

    Hey ther Estelle and Pale Rider if you’re still checking back…your modifications are to make sure that you definitely have a bottom on your hive. Make plugs for your other entrances so that in the winter you only have one hole. Use a slanted roof on your TBH, some people even insulate the roof. This will keep the snow from weighing down your hive roof. Cedar shingles and plywood, as well as regular roofing materials, are all options. Make sure your bees have plenty of honey for the cold months 🙂

  9. jacques TURCHET says:


    Je vois beaucoup de KTBH mais je n’en vois pas qui respectent l’angle de 120° préconisé par d’auteur de cette ruche, chaque constructeur donne des valeurs d’angle différentes et des dimensions différentes, pourtant 120° est indispensable si on ne veut pas que les abeilles collent les rayons aux parois sauf en Afrique où les abeilles Africaines ne collent pas les rayons aux parois, je pense que cette ruche devrait avoir des dimensions standard pour un usage professionnel.


  10. mccartney says:

    L’angle de 120 degrés n’est pas bien documenté ou valides. Souvent, les abeilles seront pas peigner pont même 90 degrés. Donc, il n’existe pas de norme, car il n’y a pas d’angle absolue qui empêche peigne pont. BTW, je ne parle pas français, ce n’est Google Translate parle pour moi.

  11. steve says:

    Hi guys,

    First year with bees and a home made top bar hive – question for you about heat , if i you have time for it.. Im in northern BC so ive paid attention to the design for winter.. but i feel that maybe i dont know as much as i could about bees and the summer..

    We dont have really scorching summers, but with a solid floor, all wood construction ( 1″thick cedar ) and only three entrance holes ( side entrance, started with a mid-hive bee bowl 8 bars wide ) are they going to be able to stay cool enough if the outside temp hits 35 or so degrees ?

    Thanks in advance for any advice you can give!

    Steve in Terrace BC

  12. I like the videos but would like to see more dimensions given. Thanks.

    “Check out my Survivalist Blog at the Clever Survivalist and read daily Survival Guide content.”

  13. Holly says:

    Check out Les Crowder top bar hives. Hes out of New Mexico. He has a book out on TBHs thats a great little book for people to read. There are plans in his book or if you go to his website, they will email you the plans for free. Thats what I did last year and built two hives from the plans. His website is

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