Make Shift Top Bar Bee Hive




Introduction: Make Shift Top Bar Bee Hive

Here's an idea i had of making a simple Top Bar Beehive (TBH) for very little money.

Please note i am inexperienced with bees, and this is my first attempt at keeping and attracting them.
so any advice to my design is welcome....

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Step 1: Materials

Step 2: Top Bars

I started by cutting the top bars.
mine are all roughly 17 inches long, that way i can move the bars to an old wooden hive i was given, that needs repairs...
i cut all the bamboo i had to the same length,

Step 3: Cutting the Door.

for the door all i did was mark out a rough door way, i went for a slot style as i figure it would be easy to fill in with additional polystyrene.
i used the preform handles of the box to help centre the door. then i took my knife and cut the door out...

Step 4: Placing the Top Bars

once the door is done i took a top bar and placed it along the top, and marked, each side of the bamboo cane.
this is the firt and last time i did this, lol. nothing is really measured here so i cut down so the top of the bamboo sits flush with the top of the lid lip.... and also i taper it slightly so the bamboo is held in place by the sides.

then continue this step until you fill the space.

Step 5: Additional Tiers + Bai Hive

for any additional tiers i start by cutting a square in the floor of the box and the i repeat the previous step...

you can add as many tiers as you see fit, i locked them together with some wax string/tape and just tied it with a slip not at the top.

with the caps (still unsure if they are a pro or a con yet..) - but these could be removed by, either, cutting around the lip, or only cutting down to the lip when fitting the bamboo top bars to the bottom and middle boxes... the top box has the lid covering the gaps.

Bait Hive

for the bait hive i basically follow the steps for making the base, although i change the door to a smaller one, which i hand drilled with a piece of bamboo,
this way you could cut a hole in the bottom and add it to the rest of you stack while only blocking the hole.... which you would do for travel anyway.....

and there it is.... My Polystyrene Top Bar Hive.

Comments and Helpful Criticism Welcome

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    9 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago on Step 5

    Have you put these TBH's to use?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Did you ever get any bees to build in these boxes? I'd love to see some pictures if you have any.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Please don't put bees in there.

    There is no "bee space" incorporated into this design, what this means is you will end up with comb all over the place in an impossible to inspect blob. Being able to inspect brood is a legal requirement in most states.

    The syrofoam cooler is not strong enough and will collapse, possibly killing many bees.

    Those bamboo bars will provide the final blow, they are the wrong size width and do not provide purchase for attaching comb.

    I am not sure how to comment in a nice way other than to say, please, please don't put live bees in there.


    Other than what is mentioned bamboo has a smooth surface which may prove difficult for the wax to attach to when a comb is full and heavy. roughen the surface or drill some holes that the wax can lock into might be an idea.


    6 years ago on Step 5

    Hi Indigo,
    I'm not all that experienced either but I think the hive will be too heavy for poly to handle.
    A top hive doesn't need to be stacked on top of each other as the idea of the top hive is to be able to inspect the hive with minimal disturbance. Just make lids and place on the ground next to each other with a side entrance. Also, I think your design with square sides will be a problem as the bees will stick the comb to the sides. That's why top bar hives have a V shape or half-barrel shape. This encourages the bees to hang the comb from the top only.
    It is a good idea to have the hives off the ground too.
    Sorry if this sounds a little negative but keep researching. There are top hive designs galore on the web.
    Have you joined a club yet ? It's lotsa fun. Cheers.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    where did you find the boxes at? there are a few "new" designs that us the polystyrene as forms for hives, as they are better insulated and lighter in weight


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    i got them from a local market, i used to sell alot of stuff via ebay so used it as packaging and thought of another idea for them...


    7 years ago on Introduction

    CapnChkn knows what's going on; that would be really hard to work the frames, and take care of the bees. Also, you're gonna have ventilation issues. I would put some ventilation holes or screen of some sort in the sides, and this would be a GREAT idea for a swarm catching box. Digging the ingenuity; great job!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Ouch.  Your idea is sound, bees will take up residence in just about anything that's the right size.  There's absolutely enough information on the Internets to answer any question you would want.  Apis Mellifera, the common honeybee, is the most studied insect in the world.

    There are a number of flaws in your concept. The first I look at is "bee-space." Bees have a way of building in very specific sizes. Anything larger than 3/8" (9mm) they fill with comb. Anything smaller than 1/4" (6 mm) they fill with a sticky stuff they get from the ends of branches and flowers called Propolis. Everything inside of the hive body will be glued down with it.

    The styrofoam isn't a bad idea, in fact many hives are built with it, and lined with wood. The bees will chew it up if they move in at all, because they really like to have a dark space with light coming from underneath. Usually the extruded, not the beaded, form of Styro is used.

    Last the top bars aren't going to give you much to work with. I don't know what kind of hive you got from whomever. You could probably get more attention if you told us about that, and we could tell you if it was workable. Top bars should be between 1.25 and 1.5 inches (32 to 35 mm) wide.  The length on a standard Langstroth is 19 inches (481 mm), so these bars will be too short to fit in one of them.  The wider bars are for storing honey, the thinner ones are what the bees build brood/baby bees/the nest on.

    The top bars in a regular TBH are ripped lumber so they can be pushed tightly together. This makes a kind of ceiling for the bees; the cover fitting loosely over them. What you have here is more like the traditional Warre hive, also a top bar type.

    For anyone having questions about what a "top bar" is, in a usual Langstroth form of hive, the comb is built in frames. That is to say it has wood all around it. Top bar hives use only the top piece of wood, called the top bar. Some have a pair of side bars, but if there's a bottom bar, then it's no longer a TBH, but rather a frame hive.