Top Bar Hive Lessons


Top Bars present several advantages to beekeepers, yet they have drawbacks as well. Like most things in life, the correct choice is about a trade off. . [powerpress: url=”″] . Pros:

  • No lifting (except the lid)
  • Low cost to build¬† (This means more honey per hive $ cost)
  • Low cost to maintain (no foundation every year)
  • Better defense to pests (Small hive beetle – Unproven, but my observation.¬† Someone chime in on this or do a study.)
  • No need to buy extractor, uncapping knife, cappings tank and drainer
  • No storage problem of unused supers during winter
  • More wax production
  • Workable for the impaired or handicap


  • Less honey production
  • More maintenance during comb-building time
  • Limited movability
  • Bad for cutouts

. Overall, It is a good hive for beginners. Cheap to get into, faster to learn beekeeping with, and more intimate knowledge of beekeeping is obtained. Crushing and straining honeycomb at harvest time is fun, too. . You can find a good design plan for TBH on my Top Bar Hive Design page . Here’s a few lessons on using Top Bar Hives. .

First – A little on how to build a Top Bar Hive

How to Build Top Bars:

How to make Top Bars is a tricky business. It is the only critical measurement of a top bar. They need to be cut 35mm wide for brood chamber (first 12 bars) and then you can open out to 40-45 for honey storage bars. Here’s Two videos Part 1 & 2 on how to make them.

9 Responses to “Top Bar Hive Lessons”

  1. Travis says:

    I would like to share your videos on my website. I am starting with top bar hives and have found them invaluable, and would like to share them. I will give you full credit and link to your website as well of course. Please let me know if that would be ok. Thanks for the great videos and website, and thanks for keeping bees.

  2. wiley p says:

    one ? when starting a new swarm in a top bar hive, when and how do you expand your brood?

  3. mccartney says:

    I’d expand the brood nest after it is about 10 bars big. Then I’d put a empty bar in every 2 bars. Once they build them out full, do it again.

  4. jon says:

    More info about pest management and organic beekeeping would be great.
    Thanks for all the great information.

  5. Richard says:

    I want to start beekeeping. I have no experience. I watched your videos. If you melt bee’s wax on each bar, how does the bees know to start building on the first bar?

  6. polypus74 says:

    An idea. Why not melt bee’s wax in a pot, dip all of your string in it, and then drill
    two holes in the top of each top bar with large countersink holes on top into which
    can fit the knots of the tied off ends of the string. I’ll be trying it when I build my hives shortly. Thanks for the vids.

  7. Pavel says:

    Hi and thanks for the videos. I have questions about the entrance into the hive and the bottom of the hive. I have read that the best thing to do is put 1″ holes in the top part of the front of the hive in order to eliminate the moisture in the winter time. I would liked to know what is your take on it. Than, I have read that the board under the cloth should remain closed and open only in extreme heat or during cleaning. I live in Kansas, so I hope that would help you with your answer. Thanks.

  8. ANP says:

    Just bought our first top bar hive. Bees will be coming in a couple of weeks. Will I need second tip bar hive eventually? I’m guessing that I will, assuming success of the first hive population over our very heavy winters here.

  9. Melissa Johnson says:

    Condensation. New TBH what should I do about condensation on the inside top bars? Spring, May 5, but Willamette Valley, OR so still cold. Low’s 40 – highs about 60. Should I insulate the top bar cover?

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