What is a Top Bar Hive?
This is a question that is asked most often by people who stop at our stall at the Skibbereen Farmers Market, so I thought I would explain it here.
A Top Bar Hive is an imitation of a hollowed out log with the added advantage of being able to monitor and extract honey with minimal disturbance to the hive. The hive shape and size are a more natural configuration than the common square box widely used. There is also a great amount of open space in the hive that aids in ventilation, which is a major factor in a healthy hive.
The hive stands on four legs about three feet high, which makes it very easy to work as the whole hive is at waist height. The bars that the bees use to build their comb upon are just a piece of timber with a groove, there is no foundation wax or frame. The bees are able to build the comb of varying sizes as they see fit.
The hives I build are made of local Larch, which is very weather resistant (used in boats and fencing) and assembled without toxins, glues, plywood, paint or preservatives. This creates a toxin free environment for the bees.
When you create a healthy environment for the bees to build their comb, you end up with the best honey possible. The bees are also less stressed and very easy to work without much need for smoke.
For a first hand look, stop by the market on Saturdays or even attend one of our Natural Beekeeping Courses.