Use thicker wood for cheaper material costs, sturdier hive and better insulation
Use thinner wood to transport often and ship, or for mini-Top-Bar Hive NUCs
Make it shorter (8-10 bars wide instead of 30-33) for TBH NUCs, transport and and swarm traps
Make it longer (40+ bars) to increase available volume and honey production
Use another end piece and additional entrances to split the hive in 2 and host 2 colonies
Why build (or buy) a Bee Mindful Top-Bar HiveTM?
In 1979, Les Crowder had been beekeeping professionally for already over 20 years, using heavy commercial Langstroth hives. Tired of the endless equipment building and storing and the flimsy, cumbersome frames used in those, he decided to use an ancient concept to design his very own horizontal, frame-less top-bar hive so that it was cheap, simple to make/assemble and to manage. The Les Crowder Top-Bar HiveTM was born.
With over 30 years of field testing building and managing his no-nonsense top-bar hives, he partnered with Nathalie Biggie to revisit and refine his original concept for a truly no-fuss, simple, budget savvy version that respects the natural angles of hexagonal cells (30 degree): the “Bee Mindful Top-Bar HiveTM” was born.
This standard 19” top-bar hive has the tremendous advantage to feature longer comb attachment surface and shallower depth than 17” TBH, which means a higher center of gravity for the combs and much less risk of honey heavy comb collapsing in the heat.
Today, Bee Mindful, LLC provides these free plans for stationary heavy duty top-bar hives so everyone somewhat crafty can make them at home with basic materials, tools and woodworking skills.
We also manufacture and sell lighter full length top-bar hives and mini top-bar hives (aka top-bar hive nucs boxes) throughout the country for those not wanting to make their own.
What are Top-Bar Hives?
The concept of Top-Bar hive has been around for hundreds of years and has been used all over the world, from Greece to Africa.
Today’s Bop-Bar hives are the modern version of very ancient and simple beekeeping methods.
They are beekeeping at its simplest, easiest and cheapest: a protected cavity, with bars placed across the top and spaced appropriately so the colony may be inspected and managed by the beekeeper easily.
In Top-Bar Hives, the bees make 100% natural combs from their own wax, building different cell sizes as needed based on the season, so there is no exposure to the heavy chemical contamination from foundation and the colony can best adapt to their specific needs.
When inspecting, only 3-4 bars are removed and the brood’s nest is never fully exposed, which protects the colony and keeps the bees much calmer than in vertical hives.
Bars are inspected one at a time, so there is no heavy lifting. When using legs (optional), the work is all done at waist level without bending or twisting: this is a back-saver, ergonomically friendly hive.
Top-Bar hives best adhere to the scientific principles of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) pyramid, and facilitate mechanical intervention/manipulations. Applied properly and in a timely fashion, IPM strategies eliminate and discourage the need for treatments, so in effect Top-Bar hives are a great tool in the fight against Pests and Pathogens, especially Varroa Destructor.