Topbar Beekeeping

I'm an urban topbar beekeeper in Albuquerque, NM. I manage hives in backyards and small organic farms within city limits. These hives are probably pollinating your veggie patches right now. Visit my website at:


Top Bar Hives

I built 11 new hives this weekend according to Les Crowder's Top Bar Hive Plans. I stick with top bar because it is very inexpensive to make (around $35 a hive), easy to move, no supers or extractors are needed and you don't need to store any parts over winter. The only downside to this type of hive is that you have to be in the hive a lot more often working with the bees to make sure they don't cross comb, or build comb in opposite directions then the top bars. Here is a link to a local who build his hive with an observation window and roof zeebeeman

There are as many variations of this plan as there are beekeepers in New Mexico. You can make the top bar hive as long or as short as possible, deeper, shallower, with different steepness of sides or the entrance in different locations. The most important measurement in this plan is the width of the top bars. They need to be 1 3/8" to allow room for the comb and enough space for the bees. If this measurement is bigger, the bees will still build to 1 3/8" anyways and you won't be able to pull up the bars and manage the hive. The benefit to sticking with the plans, or at least a consistent experiment, is that the comb can be interchangeable.

New Mexico is very unique in that many people work with top bar. In the last NM Beekeeping meeting there was a show of hands of how many people worked with either type of hive and it looked like 60% of the audience was top bar.

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