DIY





Keeping Bees: Using the Top-Bar Beekeeping Method

Conventional methods of keeping bees are effective, but top bar beekeeping is simpler, less expensive, gives bees a greater degree of freedom, and still leaves you with honey and pollinated crops.

| October/November 2009

Beekeeping is a great hobby, whether you keep bees for pollination, honey, profit, medicinal uses, or all of the above. But getting started with bees can be expensive if you use conventional hives. A basic setup with bees can cost more than $200, and building conventional hives and frames is time-consuming. But there’s a simpler, less-expensive and more natural option: top-bar hives. The top-bar beekeeping method allows you to make simpler, inexpensive hives. Build them now and you can start keeping bees next spring.

In the top-bar system, you build simple box hives with slats (bars) of wood laid across the top, to which the bees attach their wax comb.

With growing concerns about colony collapse disorder and the resulting decline in the number of pollinators, gardeners might consider maintaining a top-bar hive of honeybees simply to increase vegetable and fruit yields through better pollination.

Top-bar beekeeping is for both urban and rural dwellers who want to keep bees on a modest scale, producing honey and beeswax. Above all, top-bar beekeeping is for people who love bees and understand and appreciate their role in the pollination of many wild and cultivated plants.



If your goal is to obtain the absolute maximum amount of honey regardless of all other considerations, top-bar beekeeping is not for you. This style of beekeeping can produce adequate amounts of honey, but the emphasis is on sustainability and keeping healthy bees rather than maximizing honey crops.

Natural vs. Industrial Beekeeping

Beekeeping does not have to be complicated. And you need none of the stuff in those glossy supply catalogs to keep healthy, happy, and productive bees.

www.EasyWoodwork.org
5/5/2018 3:01:44 AM

I used the plans at WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG to build my own hive – I highly recommend you visit that website and check their plans out too. They are detailed and super easy to read and understand unlike several others I found online. The amount of plans there is mind-boggling… there’s like 16,000 plans or something like that for tons of different projects. Definitely enough to keep me busy with projects for many more years to come haha Go to WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG if you want some additional plans :)


BeeFriendly
5/22/2014 5:59:35 PM

We collected a swarm for our top bar hive by placing a "swarm removal ad" on Craigslist. Our feral bees have been very healthy and we haven't used any chemicals in the hive. We provide a clean water source for our bees, and protect them from Argentine ants and yellow jackets. Be sure to leave all the honey for your bees the first year. Then take only a few bars in late spring, leaving a surplus for winter. Take one comb at a time, cut it from the bar and replace the bar for the bees to build more comb. New top bar beekeepers can find more information about the basics at: "Beekeeping with a Top-Bar Hive" http://www.cbrp.org/SDBluebirds/beekeeping.htm


Tim Hammond
2/27/2013 7:31:28 PM

I actually have a top bar hive and can tell you I do nothing to help the bees. They stay out all winter with very little wind break in frigid Iowa. They survive on their own. They are even surrounded by pesticide ridden corn and bean fields. I take little more than a couple bars of honey from them each year, but they do a great job of pollinating.







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