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Picture of 55 Gallon Top Bar Barrel Bee Hive
FPS combines my passion for hunting and wildlife conservation with the overall need for self sufficiency.

Step 1: This 55 gallon drum will be the foundation of the bee hive.

Picture of This 55 gallon drum will be the foundation of the bee hive.
 
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cumbria427 months ago

So how did the bee's get on in the hive's, just wondering with them being plastic

That will overheat and cook your bees inside the hour on a hot summer day! The basic idea is fine, but please add at least 2 inches of insulation between the bars and the roof. Foil-backed foam is fine - the thicker the better. For the same reason, I suggest keeping them in the shade - at least during the afternoon - iIf you don't do this, you will get a meltdown and a big mess! Vent holes in the floor would also be a good idea - covered with #8 hardware cloth/mesh.

txadams made it!1 year ago

I used plastic honeycombs frames from betterbee.com. They needed to be trimmed a little to fit with a jigsaw. I used a jigsaw blade made for paneling so as to minimize vibration and cracking.

DSCN0228.JPG

txadams - I was thinking of doing the same thing. So just to clarify - did you buy complete frames and cut them down somehow, or did you just buy the plastic foundations? If it's the former, is there any chance you could post some pics?

I was thinking of doing the latter - attaching foundations to the cove molding on the top bars. I just wasn't sure the foundations would be strong enough without some kind of frame support.

I purchased the frames complete then cut to fit. A little crude but I think the bees won't mind. I also purchased bees wax to spread on them even though the frames have a coating. I read more bees wax promotes hive building. Purists have written these plastic frames have nooks and crannies which can harbor parasites so I caulked them up (note brown on sides). No bees swarms came in so I'm purchasing a started colony from the locals.

hive.jpg

You can use the threaded barrel plug for the entrance. That's the way we do it in our design:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-your-own-Honey-Cow-Top-Bar-Bee-Hive/

noelnny2 years ago
Very very interesting - but I have to ask - if I build it, how do I know they will come..."????

Sort of like the old question about a Thermos - how does it know to keep the liquid hot or cold???

Seriously though - I live about 30 miles from Canada in northern NY - I see a few hives (old style stacked box hives) here and there out in the rural area where I live - how do they find this "home" or what do I need to do to attract them?

Again - a wonderful project!!!
You live to far north for a top bar hive I think, top bar hives are good in cold weather
Waiting for bees to come can take a long time and not happen at all. Mostly, bees are purchased. You can probably find a apiarist's store and get a "Box O Bees" in the spring. If, like you mentioned, you know other people that have bees, you may be able to ask one of them to split his/her hive and buy the artificial swarm. If you are determined to catch a natural swarm, you can purchase pheromone to attempt to lure the swarm in. However, as I mentioned above, this may take a long time and may not happen at all.
caseymo502 years ago
In what climate do you live? I am concerned about the bees keeping warm enough through the winter in this hive.
This is a simple, durable, and elegant design, however.
Top bars are not practical for the winter. Bees move up during the winter. The orientation of the frames means they must brake there cluster to travel from frame to frame. Cold bees= dead bees
fretted2 years ago
The bees that swarmed in the wall of my home started hanging their hive from the top cap of an inside wall i had to cut out a wall and suck them into a bee box and then they were transfered to a hive a couple miles down the road .

It was neat being that close to a swarm of bees and they didn't even act like tey were mad i had them all over me just walking around and as soon as the queen was in the box they all settled down for the short ride to their new hive .

I tell you i have a new respect for hives and bees they are amazing creatures this Ible will make for a great project on my little place i have enough room for a couple of these .

Great job keep up the great work ...
Get a langstroth it's better for beginners and in areas where there is a cold winter it is hard to maintain top bar hives do to the need to store 70+ pounds of honey. Also take a class
mjohnson842 years ago
what about keeping the queen from making brood in the honey cells?? No bee keeper - just want them.
In a "natural" beehive the honey is separated by hight and in beekeeping queen excluders are rarely if ever used in everyday. In a horizontal hive it is needed only because it is not a "natural" shape for the bees.
RushFan2 years ago
I love this. I want to start bee keeping, and I have a cheap source of plastic barrels. Thanks!!
Very excited to find this. Thank you so much for documenting the process and sharing your work with us! We are helping to save our planet one recycled plastic barrel at a time... filled with bees!
rippa7002 years ago
If you drop a wooden dowel vertically down from the centre of the top bars it encourages the bees to build straight and it makes the combs easier to lift should you have to inspect them. Makes the combs less floppy.
Otherwise great project I love it. A plastic drum might give better temperature stability to the hive. At least make sure that one is in the shade.
attached to the top bar?? brad?
Yes, drill a hole in the top bar and insert the dowel vertically downwards. I have seen a successful queen excluder built in wood. It is basically like a vertical hanging frame with wooden slats like a venitian blind. The bees propolysed up most of it bu continued to work through it to store honey leaving the brood in the first half of the hive.
curious - could you also use 3 dowels the same way - to stabilize?

Do you have a picture of the queen excluder built as you say?
drill hole for the dowel - use wood glue to hold it?
Yes. My friend who does this has just one dowel in the cenre and it works fine. No need for 3. I'll see if he has a picture of his queen excluder as it is a beautiful bit of work.
Yay, I will look forward to seeing it. I no nothing about bees, except that they love the borage I have in the summer. I am putting in a few blueberry plants, and 3 fruit trees. I have the suit - smoker - and almost have the hive. lol - and "want" the bees. I got my frame made today for the barrell top bar hive. got round post for the legs - too bad I didnt check out that pic again - cause he used landscape timbers. Advantage - two flat sides. ;/ guess I may have to chisel out a spot to flush the brace. ;/ live and learn. btw - are italian bees more agressive than the carolinas? I'm from the south - so of course, I'm partial.
I'm in UK - and I use local bees, but so called Hawaii bees are popular here for being docile and good honey producers.
I saw a man online that said he would never use a queen excluder because it damaged the bees wings... ? I need to do more homework.
Possibly a cheap zinc one might but I have used one in all my hives for some years and all the friends who keep bees use them and I have never ever heard of damaged wings that way. Varoa mites cause wing defects and he might be confusing that...
thanks for your replies - I appreciate any and all info -
foodplotsurvival (author)  rippa7002 years ago
Thank you for the dowel idea!! I will try it.

These hives will be slightly shaded... cooler in the summer and heat absorbers in the winter when the leaves have fallen.

Here is one that I made in 2007. Biggest issue is that you have to keep on top of them when building comb. Bees, by instinct, will curve comb on top bars that are longer than 12" or so, so you must cut and straighten as they build, otherwise by the time they get to the edge of the barrel the comb will be attached to the adjacent top bar. If you don't stay on top of it, you can end up with a huge problem/mess when all the top bars are attached to multiple combs.

More details can be found at http://robo.bushkillfarms.com/beekeeping/barrel-top-bar-hive/

It was also features in the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of Backwoodsman Magazine.

 I would also recommend http://www.beemaster.com for any new or hobbyist beekeepers, great community, ad-free, and geared towards hobbyist
BushkillFarms.jpgBushkillFarmsA.jpg
mjohnson842 years ago
awesome - one for me ;/ ^^
mjohnson842 years ago
nice house.
mjohnson842 years ago
it's not the level - it's the "pink shoes" ^^
mjohnson842 years ago
beautifully done.
mjohnson842 years ago
here's to ten fingers AND ten toes! lol
finton2 years ago
Excellent Instructable foodplotsurvival!
One question though: given that the ends of the barrel curve inwards (thus making a smaller diameter), doesn't that mean that fully drawn comb from the middle wouldn't fit in the ends? I'm thinking of brood nest manipulation and so on.
Otherwise, I have one of these barrels and am considering following your very clear directions to make two of these.
foodplotsurvival (author)  finton2 years ago
The brood nest should stay at the front of the hive. The bees leave plenty of room around the comb for all the farther you will slide the top bars in order to make room for more as you expand your hive.
Since the comb laden with honey is destroyed for honey extraction the size of those combs no longer becomes an issue.
Okaayy, I think I'm with you. Couple more questions then, if you would:
1 Do you have problems inspecting such large combs, especially given they are unsupported
2 How have you gone with apiary inspectors checking your hives? For my Langstroth hives they've always done the inspections while I wasn't there - I'd be reluctant to let them do that with a topbar hive.

I have been a conventional beekeeper for years, and have read a lot about topbar hives, but would like your experiences in these questions. Thanks.
lucek2 years ago
Your neighbors must love you.
aje127 lucek2 years ago
lol why? for the free honey or the bee stings. lol
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