Posts Tagged ‘top bar beekeeping’

Beekeeping Video: Top Bar Hive Beekeeping

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012


This is an excerpt from the full length (85 minute) DVD “Alternative Beekeeping Using the Top Bar Hive and The Bee Guardian Methods“, available at

Beekeeping with top bar hives is getting more and more popular, as it is thought to be a more natural way to keep bees, more in tune with the way they would live in their natural environment. In other countries around the world, particularly in Africa, top  bar beekeeping is still very common – the Langstroth hive being more expensive to make.

This top bar beekeeping DVD was filmed in the beautiful Colorado mountains. It includes footage from a top bar beekeeping workshop held by Corwin Bell, and shows hands-on techniques, close-up footage of hives, combs, cells and bees, and lots and lots of practical tips and techniques for the natural beekeeper.

I think it is beautifully filmed (as you can see from the extract above), so it is also a delight to watch.

It is primarily aimed at beginner beekeepers – although experienced beekeepers will really enjoy it too – and goes from explaining the features of a top bar hive, getting your hive set up, sourcing your bees, working with your bees, right through to harvesting your honey – and lots more in between.

You can read a full list of the contents and learn more about the DVD by visiting

Beekeeping Video – Life Inside A Top Bar Hive

Sunday, November 20th, 2011


I found this amazing video showing bees working in a top bar hive. It starts with the colonisation of the empty Beehive, then shows 3 months (condensed into 2 minutes!) of activity. You’ll notice the number of bees suddenly drops – this is because they swarmed.




Natural Beekeeping Alternatives – Top Bar Hives

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Natural Beekeeping is increasing becoming the buzz word for hobby beekeepers – and particularly for those thinking of starting beekeeping.

Of course, all backyard beekeeping is natural, in a way that commercial beekeeping is not. For commercial beekeepers pollination is often the biggest earner, so bees are transported thousands of miles to pollinate huge swathes of mono culture crops. This excessive transportation, the lack of biodiversity, and the associated heavy chemical use – little wonder that scientists are increasingly citing stress as a likely cause of Colony Collapse Disorder.

But some forms of hobby beekeeping are seen as more natural than others – particularly top bar hive beekeeping and it’s close cousin Warre hive beekeeping. Both of these are arguably less invasive than traditional beekeeping with Langstroth hives, and the bees allowed more freedom to act as they would in their natural environment.

Build Your Own Top Bar Hive

One of the real advantages of top bar hives is their simplicity. If you have even basic carpentry skills, building a top bar hive is really simple. You can get top bar hive plans from the Back Yard Hive shop for just $9.95 (and they also supply materials if you need them). If you are interested in building your own top bar hive, the video below should also help.

Buy a Top Bar Hive

Alternatively, if you do not have the time or inclination to build your own beehive, the Back Yard Hive also has hand crafted top bar hives for sale. This is definitely a more expensive option, but their hive does include a full length viewing window making it easy to inspect your bees without disrupting them, and it is beautifully made.

Whether you make your hive yourself or buy it ready made is really a personal choice. And of course so too is the choice between top bar, Warre or Langstroth – they all have their own merits.  The important thing is to pick one, and start beekeeping – you won’t regret it.

Top Bar Beekeeping – Good For The Bees

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Top bar Beekeeping is beekeeping using top bar hives (or Warre hives, which are simply vertical top bar hives). There are two main types of Beehives used by hobby beekeepers – ‘conventional’ modern beehives, based on the Langstroth hive, and top bar hives. Although Langstroth type hives are still the most common, top bar beekeeping is becoming more and more popular.

So what is so good about top bar beekeeping? The strongest argument is that it is good for the bees.

The fundamental difference between the top bar hive and a Langstroth hive is that the top bar hive is frameless, so the bees always have to draw their own honeycomb. There is no pre-printed, one size fits all wax foundation used.

The disadvantage of this is that the bees have to make more wax (and so as a consequence will make less honey). But there are real advantages.

In top bar beekeeping, bees will make the comb exactly as they want it – not just the way the beekeeper wants it. It must be remembered that the Langstroth hive was invented to make life easier (and the bees more productive) for the beekeeper, not for the benefit of the bees. Bees are perfectly happy in a more natural setting (such as a hollow in a tree), and advocates of top bar beekeeping argue that the top bar hive is much closer to what nature intended.

Also, the foundation wax used in frames for Langstroth hives is recycled wax from other beehives. While recycling is normally good, in this case the recycled wax will often contain high amounts of chemicals and pesticides – particularly since most of it comes from commercial beehives.

In a recent Pennsylvania State University study, 87 types of pesticides were found in beeswax, with up to 39 different detections in a single sample. None of this contaminated wax is introduced to the hive in top bar beekeeping, as all the wax is ‘freshly’ made by the bees.

Another advantage of top bar beekeeping is the shape of the top bar hive – trapezoidal, with sloped sides. This allows the bees to make their comb in a ‘parabolic’ shape that comes naturally to them – again, as they would in the wild.

Top bar beekeeping is not for everyone. If your main aim is maximize honey production, then Langstroth hives will be more suitable. But if you are interested in becoming a ‘natural’ beekeeper, then top bar beekeeping could be for you.