Thursday, April 7, 2011

make your own top bar hive!

Beekeeping is an ancient DIY art, performed by amateurs and makers for centuries. Anyone can produce natural honey at home. People keep bees in many different kinds of hives, but we will focus on a cheap and simple design, called the Honey Cow.

The Honey Cow is designed to mimic nature as much as possible. Unlike commercial hives, it does not have frames, foundation or excluders. Instead, it just has top bars, allowing the bees to do what they would in a fallen log: build beautiful, natural combs. Because it is less intrusive to the bees, it's easier to make and manage, which makes it a perfect beginners backyard hive.


(Taken from Instructables.com - Click here for instructions!)

26 Comments:

Blogger City Sister said...

Sweet...I've been trying to convince my husband that keeping bees would just fit into the rest of our lives...he's not so sure.

April 7, 2011 at 10:10 AM  
OpenID Tami said...

This is just what I have been waiting for. As much as I have wanted to venture into beekeeping, all of the other bee box setups have seemed too complex. This one looks simple and as you said, more natural for the bees, which is fabulous. I just saw a honey bee flying around the deck a few days ago so maybe they are looking for a new home! Thank you Jenna!!

April 7, 2011 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

LOL, this isn't helping! I've been thinking milk goats for a few weeks now bees. I have to keep telling myself, baby steps - chickens first, then bees & goats. BTW, the Mississippi isn't looking as scary as it was a couple weeks ago. We still have flooding in the area and it's coming up in back of our house, but they're not talking record breaking floods anymore. I can live w/ that.

April 7, 2011 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger Noël McNeil said...

This is just what I needed! It looks great and for a beginner beekeeper (someday soon). I am so excited to one day have bees and my husband is a contractor so I know who can make my honey cow for me...my honey. ;)

April 7, 2011 at 10:57 AM  
OpenID myyearoffood.net said...

awesome! thank you so much!

April 7, 2011 at 11:01 AM  
OpenID urbanadaptation said...

Oh, this looks great, and completely do-able. I'm going to file this one away for when I have space for a hive, and no landlords to tell me not to.

April 7, 2011 at 11:07 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

Funny you should post this today. I completed a top bar hive and the stand for it (which I built separately so that I could put a second hive on it) just recently, and the bees for it are due in the my bee supplier today!

The instructions for making the top bar hive I made is from biobees.com . If you look to the right, there is a link for free downloadable instructions. I made my hive from scrap lumber lying around the garage. This is a great resource for folks who want to get into bees but don't have access to plastic food barrels or the tin.

My research around the web convinced me that top bar hives are the way to go; evidently when left to their own devices, honey bee draw out smaller comb on a top bar than they do on a foundation in a Langstroth hive. The smaller comb makes for smaller bee, and the Varroa mites don't fit in them so well, so bees in a top bar hive are much less plagued by Varroa mites than are bees in a Langstroth hive.

The instructables mention Gold Star Honeybees as a god resource, and I can attest to that. I bookmarked her video on how to install bees in a top bar hive which I'm going to watch over and over and over so that I can get my bees in their hive tomorrow without a hitch. She posted lots of other helpful video as well.

Total cost for me to get into bees was around $120- the bees were $90, and I spent around $30 for some things I needed for my hive. I expect to spend another $40 or so for a beekeeping jacket with veil and a hive tool when I go pick up my bees. To anyone thinking about keeping bees, I say, go for it!

April 7, 2011 at 11:31 AM  
OpenID barntalkblog said...

This is a nice looking hive. My dad and I have been wanting to get into bees, but we have to be careful because my sister is allergic to them. Thankfully, we have a rented lot what we could have a hive on that's close to our home so it is easy to check on. I plan on showing this to my Dad to see what he says!

-Autumn

April 7, 2011 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

That's brilliant! Basically a sawhorse and a half barrel. I'm pretty sure we could knock one of these together like, tomorrow. Thanks for sharing this!

April 7, 2011 at 2:42 PM  
Blogger Ellen said...

My husband and I are going through our scraps this weekend to build a top bar hive. I read the book "The Barefoot Beekeeper," used his website, and downloaded his pdf instructions for building a hive. There's lots of ideas outh there! My problem here, in British Columbia, is that it's difficult to locate package bees instead of nucs (and packages came in in *February?!*). A nuc is designed to fit into a Langstroth hive, so you need to severely chop it apart to use in a top bar setup. We may cross our fingers this year and hope a swarm finds us - still hoping to find some local support.

April 7, 2011 at 4:27 PM  
Blogger Allie said...

hmm.. it appears as though I have those exact materials in my garage at this very moment...next time the hubs isn't home *BAM* beehive baby!

April 7, 2011 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger Lara Katherine Mountain Colley said...

This makes beekeeping set up look not so complicated or expensive after all. We might just make our own honey this year yet!

April 7, 2011 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger steak and eggs said...

Jenna what a cute hive. My dad had bees and he would put his name on a list at the Fire Dept. and the Police Dept. When someone would call that a swarm of bees were around their house or business the beekeeper at the top of the list was called to gather the bees. It a cheap way to get a new hive started. Just make sure to get the queen or the hive will not survive.

April 7, 2011 at 7:02 PM  
Blogger steak and eggs said...

Jenna what a cute hive. My dad had bees and he would put his name on a list at the Fire Dept. and the Police Dept. When someone would call that a swarm of bees were around their house or business the beekeeper at the top of the list was called to gather the bees. It a cheap way to get a new hive started. Just make sure to get the queen or the hive will not survive.

April 7, 2011 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger Rachael said...

That's fantastic! I've been looking into the top bar hives since I saw them last fall at the Mother Earth News Fair. What an easy idea. Thanks for posting!

April 7, 2011 at 7:28 PM  
Blogger Christine Izzo said...

Love this! I've been looking into making a top bar hive, but we're only a little handy so we were thinking it would be a kind of big project for us. This one looks much easier! Thanks so much!

April 7, 2011 at 7:35 PM  
Blogger Christine Izzo said...

Love this! I've been looking into making a top bar hive, but we're only a little handy so we were thinking it would be a kind of big project for us. This one looks much easier! Thanks so much!

April 7, 2011 at 7:35 PM  
Blogger D said...

I'm so excited to hear you are going to use a top bar hive! Please keep us updated on everything you do with the hive, I'm hoping to use the top bar system next year.
Thanks!

April 7, 2011 at 7:42 PM  
Blogger RabbleRoost said...

BOOKMARKED!
I've been thinking of bees, but I'm so worried that I'll get stung a bunch of times... Sure I'll let myself get bit to crap by a goose or flayed alive by a rabbit, but bees?
I need to get over that mental block if I'm ever going to get some fresh honey. :)
This looks like a really easy hive design, one I could do myself. I'll be sure to pass it along if nothing else.

April 7, 2011 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

I just built my first top bar hive last fall. I just had few a pieces of scrap wood and build one. Here's another good website for tbh, www.bushfarms.com. Very informative on tbh.

April 7, 2011 at 8:40 PM  
Blogger Christy said...

pretty nifty, thanks for sharing! i am curious to see if random wild bees in my yard would take up residence in such a contraption. they love the clover all around our yard.

April 7, 2011 at 10:03 PM  
OpenID mountainchicken said...

How have I not heard of the Instructables website? Oh my gosh, it's amazing!

April 7, 2011 at 11:41 PM  
Blogger becky3086 said...

Not sure I can add anything that hasn't already been said. This looks great and easy. Thanks for posting.

April 8, 2011 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

@Rabbleroost - you WON'T get stung a bunch of times, as long as you dress appropriately and don't go out of your way to harass the bees. They're more docile than you'd think. :)

You'll probably get stung at some point, but it will be rare, probably just one, and probably because you got too comfortable and were careless (ask me how I know). They're really fun - don't be afraid!

April 8, 2011 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger GirlSavorsLife said...

Does anyone know the cold threshold for bees?

April 8, 2011 at 1:59 PM  
Blogger info said...

I am the creator of the Honey Cow. the hive plans first appeared in Make Magazine, but we have also put them up on our site along with other information about beekeeping. We will continue to post articles about natural beekeeping, so be sure to check the site periodically:
http://www.velacreations.com/bees.html

April 15, 2011 at 11:09 AM  

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