The Difference Between Top-Bar, Warre, and Langstroth Beehives

| 8/8/2016 12:45:00 PM


In the past few years, the popularity of and interest in beekeeping has soared. Whether it is due to the rise in homesteading or concern for the alarming decline in the bee population, more and more people are raising bees. So where do you start?

First of all, you need a home for your bees, and there are three types to choose from: the top-bar, Warre, and Langstroth beehive. Each hive has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the one you choose depends on your needs and preferences.

Top-Bar Beehives

The top-bar hive has been around for centuries. It is a simple concept, taking a wooden trench or tub and lining the top opening with wooden slats or bars. Once the bees take residence, they begin building their combs from the underside of those bars, working their way down into the tub. (Image)


• Top-bar hives have a simple design. You can build them yourself out of any materials you like using whatever dimensions you need, cutting down on the cost. Here are some beehive plans if you're interested.
• As with some hives, you won't require hundreds of dollars worth of equipment and accessories to maintain a top-bar hive. All you essentially need is the hive itself and a sharp knife.
• Top-bar hives are foundation-less, so the combs you end up with are completely natural, devoid of the pesticides or chemicals that may come in a purchased wax or plastic foundations.
• Because of its horizontal design, top-bar hives don’t require any heavy lifting save for the lid and the combs themselves. Also, the height can be adjusted to the beekeeper's preference, adding convenience and ease-of-use all around.
• Your bees will be less agitated. Lifting one slat at a time to harvest allows the rest of the hive to remain undisturbed, keeping the bees' stress level down and reducing your risk of being stung.


• The only way to harvest honey is to crush and strain the combs, meaning that the bees will have to rebuild new combs from scratch. As a result, top-bars are said to produce less honey than other hives.
• More inspections are required to make sure that bees have plenty of space for honey storage.
• Top-bar hives are not standardized, so if you’re looking for accessories, chances are you’ll have to build them yourself.

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