A beeseeker Blogpost
the other day I posted about our ‘African hive’ or top bar hive and Beeseeker asked for more details.
So I thought it merited a post.
The African Hive caught our eye early in our beekeeping journey. We wanted to be as kind to the bees as possible. During our conventional bee keeping course we were sensitive to the various practices which we felt were intrusive towards the bees and that might be stressful.
In the process of this awareness we came across the
Barefoot bee keeper, Phil Chandler.
He has published plans for this style of top bar hive. The site link gives you far more detail but in basic terms the following aspects struck us.
- The shape of the hive means a keeper can avoid disturbing the whole colony. Sometimes you only need to see a few combs. With a conventional hive lifting off a whole box section opens the hive quite fully. This can lead to tremendous heat loss. The bees then have extra work to restore the temperature. A horizontal hive has less invasive access.
- The height of the hive makes it easier for all heights of people to see the bees. And this can mean less heavy lifting too. (One if our is in a school so that’s handy) it’s possible to add an observation window low down too.
- Accessing one or two combs is easier than lifting a whole box of 25 kg honey.
- The bees build a natural shape comb on a bar. The use of frames with foundation wax isn’t something that we do. (Some people also prefer this because it avoids introducing foreign wax into the hive. But it does mean more building for the bees. )
There are some drawbacks.
- The comb can be skewed and cross bars but we haven’t had big problems with that.
- You may need special tools to detach comb from the side of the hive.
- Harvesting honey can be tricky as regular frames are much easier to use in a centrifuge but ideas to make it easier are available. For us the honey isn’t as important as the bee welfare.
- Some other bee keepers think these gives are more of a hobby and we’ve had some funny looks. But we’ve noticed that the colonies in both have been very healthy.
We bought this hive but we made out other top bar hive hive.