Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Top Bar Hive Dimensions/Plans

In a previous post, I made some notes on certain dimensions to consider when building/choosing a top bar hive. However, I thought that I'd also make some notes on TBHs that are either commercially available or in use by well-known beeks.

NOTE: I'm not endorsing any of these products or receiving any compensation from these companies. These are simply comparison notes.

Gold Star Honeybees TBH
44 1/2"
15" at top,
6 3/16 at bottom

(Interior hive dimensions)
9 1/2"
Golden Mean Hive from
19" at top9"
I think they have a longer version as well -- 42"L x 16" X 10".

I think this hive is supposed to use Golden Mean proportions.
(Bottom board is 8" wide)
Phil Chandler's Hive
(This is the length of the top bars. His plans indicate using 1" thick wood, so the interior width is probably 15".)
His plans indicate using wood 12" wide.
August Cottage Apiary has posted instructions for building a TBH based on Phil Chandler's design. They are probably the most comprehensive instructions I've ever seen for building a hive.
Les Crowder's Hives
(This is the length of the top bars. His plans indicate using 1" thick wood, so the interior width is probably 18".)
His plans indicate using wood 10" wide.  Sides are angled at 120 degrees.

Wyatt Mangum's Hives
17 1/2" at the top
9" at the bottom
(These are exterior dimensions.)
His plans indicate using wood 12" wide.* 
Detailed instructions are available in his book Top-Bar Hive Beekeeping Wisdom & Pleasure Combined.
Michael Bush's KTBHs
46 1/2"
15" at the top
6" at the bottom
(These are exterior dimensions.)
His plans indicate using wood 12" wide.*

Sam Comfort's KTBHs
18.25” at the top
8.25” at the bottom
(accommodates a Langstroth top bar)


Per his website, these are all approximate internal dimensions using rough cut lumber.

Angle of sides: 120 degrees, gap left at bottom of side board makes the side 10.5"

* Being partly Asian, I could easily use math to figure out the interior height of the hives based on the info provided. However, I never liked math, so I'm not going to. I imagine that you can probably subtract at least 2-3" from the width of the board to estimate the interior height, though. (This figure should account for the angle of the hive sides and the board thickness -- usually about an inch.) If you're willing to figure out the heights and send them to me, I'll certainly post your calculations and give you credit for them! :-)

Here are some additional links to other online top bar plans.

If you have a favorite design or a plan you'd like to add to this list, please, let me know. I'd love to update this resource.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Two Awesome Talks by Mike Palmer

I really enjoy listening to Mike Palmer discuss beekeeping. He's been doing it for years, and he's obviously both knowledgeable and thoughtful in his approach. Here are two great talks by him given at the National Honey Show 2014.

The first topic is Keeping Bees in Frozen North America. In this video, he discusses three key factors for successful beekeeping in a cold climate:

  • Suitable bees
  • Population management
  • Timely winter preparations
The first 12 minutes or so of this video, he discusses his beekeeping calendar so that his audience can get an idea of the kind of conditions he deals with in Vermont. However, if you don't find that interesting, you can skip it. The rest of the video, though, was very informative. At least, I picked up all kinds of great tips.

BTW, as Mike was discussing requeening methods, I was reminded of a tip someone gave me last weekend. They said that when one introduces a new queen, it helps to kill the old queen and smoosh her over the new queen's cage before hanging it in the hive. I was told that the pheromones from the old queen all over the new cage will help facilitate acceptance. Obviously, I haven't tried that yet, but I thought that was an interesting idea and figured I'd pass it along.

In this second video, Mike discusses sustainable queen rearing using Brother Adam's method of simultaneously inducing emergency queen rearing and a swarm response.

Ghosts in the Hive

The following video has been in my YouTube queue for quite awhile, but I just finally got around to watching it. In this video, biologist Ricarda Kather gives a lecture entitled "Ghosts in the Hive - Varroa's life cycle inside a Honey Bee Colony" at the National Honey Show 2013. Wow! What an amazing insight into the varroa mite!

Once again, I am just amazed by the intricacies of nature. If I weren't a beekeeper, I would be impressed by the mite's ability to mimic bees and their cleverness in propagating in a colony. Oh, heck, I really am impressed. I may not like mites, but they are quite clever, really. 

Enjoy the show.