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Farmette1769's Blog

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Every time I decide to buy a hive and bees, I hesitate. There is never enough money for even the top priorities on our project list. So, as usual, that project gets pushed down the list. Sometimes, out of the blue, I get the urge to resurrect a project and search until I find a way to get it done – very low cost or nearly free. For every project that needs to get done, I also have to overcome nerve pain from my damaged neck. So, contrary to my normal way of approaching building, I am not only looking for CHEAP, but EASY.

Here is the magically, wonderful reference site that I was thrilled enough with to share ASAP; Easy Beekeeping (re-titled). I really began to focus on the article at the “So what are top bar hives?” paragraph. And I was ecstatic about “So where do you get bees from?” You can buy them or catch them, or if you are lucky, they will adopt you! And for those faint of heart (so far, bee stings just make me cuss) “Will I get stung?”.

I had to get used to the lengths of wood concept of building when we started the mini farm. Before that , plywood seemed the solution for everything. But building in pieces gives you a lot more flexibility and usually, better and/or reclaimed wood choices.

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The best part of the Barefoot (Easy) Beekeeping site is the FREE, downloadable PDF file for How To Build A Top Bar Hive. The only part that I found confusing was the section on Top Bars. Just so you know, Top Bars are just long pieces of wood (17” x 1 3/8” x ¾”). They are very important since this is where the bees make their honey.

The pictures shown in the PDF are diagrammed as if you looking at them from the end (1 3/8” x ¾”). I’d like to try the author’s favorite, half-round section. This involves adding rather than subtracting – which I would prefer too. We just bought quarter round molding for floor trimming in our son’s room. I wonder if they have half circle somewhere at the supply store? Or maybe I can figure out how to split a dowel down the middle…

The DIY store sells half round molding. It is almost $5 for 1 long piece, so I bought two – enough to make nearly half of the top bars this way. The rest will be concave strips filled with bees wax. The approximately 1″ x 2″ by 8′ pine boards were found in the construction section for less than $1 each which makes quite a few top bars for not a lot of money.

top bars - with half round to be attached

Honey bees will just start building their hexagon-structured, Frisbee-shaped combs hanging from the strips of wood, but the shapes act as a guide. When coated with bees wax, these “top bars” will attract the bees and train them.

And the rest of the hive goes on. It reminds me of a coffin. I figure if someone asks me what it is, that is what I will tell them…

coming together

and so on

Legs and the roof (which does not have a bottom since it merely rests on the hive legs) were equally big parts of the project, after mesh was put in the bottom of the main compartment. I splurged on the roofing material for $20, but there is more than half leftover. There is ventilation on the far side of the roof made with some of the mesh material from the bottom of the main section. And let’s not forget the separators (for the long 3 section version at 48″) and the “top bars” themselves…

made mine hit or miss - this is likely a better way to make a separator - stolen pic #1

stolen pic #2 - main section with two separators


And then there was painting, the fun part in comparison to the gathering of supplies and building.

final - with bee decoration

in the landscape with a newly planted flower under the end

The pony water trough is on the other side of those weeds in the gully. A water source and bright sunlight are essential parts of bee hive placement.

Now, we’ll see what happens…

PS: Please refer to that free pdf and barefoot beekeeper site. This guy did a great job.

And don’t forget the 1″ diameter holes drilled for the bees to enter the hive sections!

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