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Built a top bar hive, just got bees in it.

Hi all. Just thought I'd post up about the start of my bee journey. I went on a beginners' course at Grantham BKA which was really great. A chap there got me thinking about top bars, which really made sense when I read up on it.

The hive I've built is from an old wardrobe and has cost me about 15 in additional timber and paint.

I caught a swarm on Sunday and got it in. It absconded on Tuesday, I made a few mods, put them back, fed some, closed them in (plenty of vent through mesh floor) and they've drawn more comb I think. Released them, with a queen excluder over the entrance, today. Hopefully first inspection tomorrow.

Any tips appreciated! More info on blog if you're interested (link below)


I know virtually nothing about bees, but good luck with it.

Blog looks interesting too Smile

Just checked the blog, Ollie. Very interesting reading, I hope to keep bees one day soon, so may be in touch if thats ok.

Thanks both. Course its okay, I know next to nowt but will be happy to help if I can Cool

Leave them to settle for a few days before inspecting, & remove the queen excluder ASAP so any drones can fly.
Also if the swarm is a cast, & not prime there may be a virgin who will need to fly to mate, so any hinderence could disrupt this.

Thanks for the advice. I am fairly sure it was a prime swarm as I know the owner of the hive it came from. I will remove the excluder soon. I saw a drone was able to get through however.

I inspected today and found a cross comb problem which has forced me to have a rethink. I will try making some bars with foundation strips in ASAP.


Queen excluder came off a few days ago; I observed some eggs in the comb so I deduce its probably 'queenright' and unlikely to abscond now Smile

Top bars with foundation strips went in to assist straight comb building.

Weather's been crap so they've been fed again and are currently building comb on seven or eight bars of a 10-bar chamber (which is book-ended by a follower vboard containing a 1" hole to access the feeder, in the other portion of the hive).

My inspection regime has been minimal; in fact I have only done one. Inspection window has been useful. Thanks for the advice so far! Cool

The first mistake most beginners make is opening the hive to often.
Glad they are settled & laying.
Spend as much time as you can observing the entrance activity.
Much can be ascertained about the inside without diving inside.
This book is worth reading for more info.

There's my bedtime reading sorted for a bit then! Thanks for the tip Very Happy

Just by way of an update, the bees stayed, they have built out around 15 bars of comb in my TBH. It has not been plain sailing though, because they didn't want to build the comb straight and I've had a few problems trying to sort it... however I am getting there. I took a tiny bit of honey yesterday which was really delicious.

I've learned so much and gained confidence working with the bees, so its been a good season for me. I hope to build a second TBH (haven't told the OH yet! Surprised ;D ) for swarm control / expansion next year. I'll change my bar profile to a deep "v" or perhaps waxed foundation strips (which I have had success with here), but definitely not a waxed saw kerf!

All my notes and photos are documented here

Sally Too

Great blog - and lovely pictures. Thanks for sharing. Best wishes with all your bees.

Thanks, that's very kind Very Happy
I like your blog too, your skills are way beyond my contemplation but your place looks like a lot of fun! Cool

I'll change my bar profile to a deep "v" or perhaps waxed foundation strips (which I have had success with here), but definitely not a waxed saw kerf!

I had the same problem.
I'm currently trying the small bottom bars from old national frames nailed to the top bar.
Better results than the wax & saw kerf, but one or two bars are still crossed.
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