Sunday, March 07, 2010


Top bar hives have a long history in Africa.  The top bar hive that I am building is considered a Kenyan top bar hive, since it has sloping sides.  Vertical sides would make it a Tanzanian top bar hive.

Its essentially a long trough with a lid.  There are two boards called follower boards, that conform to the shape of the inside of the hive, and can be moved by the beekeeper to adjust the amount of space that the bees get to use.     There are narrow wooden bars, with a groove in the bottom filled with beeswax, that span the trough, and are where the bees will build their comb.

In winter, the unused portion of the hive outside of the follower boards will be filled with some natural insulation, to reduce heat loss from the hive.

Yesterday, I cut boards for the sides and end of the hive, along with rough cutting a section for the follower boards.  Since I'm using six inch boards, I started gluing them edge to edge last night, doing the section for the follower boards and the ends.  Today I'm gluing the long boards for the sides of the hive, and am heading out to the barn to cut the follower boards to shape.  When the follower boards are complete (they need a top bar glued to them), I'll use them as the base to form the rest of the hive.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Top bar hives don't really have a "long history" in Africa. Peace Corps workers and others from Canada and Europe designed them in the 1970's based on ancient Greek designs. The Africans were still killing wild colonies to steal honey and wax and this was destroying the bee populations as well as the environment.

9:24 PM  

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