Best Top Bar Hive To Keep Your Hive Healthy

Top bar hives are a unique style of beekeeping that utilizesentirely different equipment from the familiar Langstroth beehive boxes seen in the countryside. This is an ancient beekeeping style and one that appeals to hobbyists and “urban farmers,” to people who want to run a relatively small beekeeping operation for the enjoyment of learning about the bees and having bee products available. This is not for commercial beekeepers.

The top bar style of beekeeping involves a large box with bars across the top that the bees use to build their combs. Unlike the Langstroth beehive boxes that hold frames that provide foundation for the comb-building, the top bar hive is closer to the way bees build their own hives in nature.

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Top bar hives are basically any container larger enough for the bees to occupy and build their combs from the bars laid across the top. These hives have been used for thousands of years and continue to be popular around the world, particularly in Africa. Steel drums sawed in half are just one type of container often used. The hives we are reviewing are all wooden box styles but many other container types are possible. The key element is the top bar.

Top bar hives are appealing to people who want to raise bees for the enjoyment of the activity of the hive. Bee products are less of a priority with these people. These hives are more appealing aesthetically and have more variety than the Langstroth style frame hives. The way the comb is removed from the hive makes it easy for the beekeeper. Instead of having to lift the entire hive, just one bar at a time is removed for harvest.

The bees do most of the work and an attraction of this style hive is that it is patterned more closely after the style bees build for themselves in nature. The top bar hive provides the bars at the top of a container for the bees to attach their comb. The shape of the bar helps the cone to be straight so there is room for many in the container.

This is the kind of hive that appeals to people who want a simpler lifestyle and enjoy learning about an ancient and interesting approach to beekeeping. This style hive can be built at a cost of materials of around $50. For those who want to get started quicker, complete kits and finished hives are available on These range from basic hives to beautiful almost-furniture like models. Your budget likely will be your guide.

We identified six top bar hives to see how they compare in price, style and features, pros and cons, and where they are available.

  • Beepods Vented Top Bar Hive
  • COLIBROX Top Bar Bee Hive
  • Bee Built Top Bar Hive Starter Kit
  • Rusuley Warre Hive / Vertical Top Bar Hive
  • Lotus energy Top Bar Bee Hive
  • Beehive Barn LLC Top Bar Hive Box

You can build your own top bar hive for around $$ in materials. Many design ideas are available online, or you may design your own. Kits are available for around $$, and complete, assembled hives range from around $$$ to $$$$.

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The Beepods Vented Top Bar Hive has been designed with the urban beekeeper in mind, although this beautiful hive would fit into any setting where bees are encouraged. It is lifted off the ground which provides access to the hive, promotes good ventilation and gives this hive its distinctive appearance. The box is 47 inches long, 22 inches wide, 32 inches high, and weighs 75 pounds.

It has mechanical fasteners, a heavy duty Roto-Lock to keep the lid on tight, polycarbon windows, a vapor barrier lid, and comes with 32 self-centering top bars to encourage comb building. It is constructed with fasteners and replaceable parts so repairs can be made without replacing the entire hive.

Beepods is a source of bees and provides educational support about their top bar hive and about beekeeping. The top bar hive itself is available through The Beepods company offers a complete package including the hive, hive tools and other accessories, one year of on-call support, and a one-year subscription to a Beepods membership.

These may also be purchased separately from Beepods directly. This company provides information and support to the beginning beekeeper or the beekeeper venturing into the top bar hive style.

  • Furniture-like appearance
  • Beepods company provides support and information about top bar hives
  • Parts and hardware are available for repairs and replacement as needed
  • This is a very expensive hive

This product can be found on Amazon for around $$$$ plus around $$ shipping.

The support available from Beepods will help the new beekeeper get started with the top bar hive. This company offers a complete kit that includes the hive and offers ongoing support. This is an expensive hive but for the person wanting to take up this somewhat obscure form of beekeeping this company offers valuable resources.

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This beehive comes in a kit ready to assemble with all the hardware and instructions included. It has 12 top bars that are 1 1/4 inches wide and 16 3/4 inches long. They have a v-shaped bevel for straight comb building. The wood pieces are grades A and B solid pine. Three spare bars are included with the kit. There is no roof and the wood is unpainted.

  • Reasonably priced with hardware and instructions
  • Kit includes spare bars
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee against defects
  • Unpainted
  • Has no roof in kit
  • With only 12 bars this kit may make a smaller hive than expected

This product can be found on Amazon for around $$ including shipping.

How well this hive works will depend on the job the user does in assembling it correctly. It is a very economical hive kit. To get started, the beekeeper will need some training on this style of beekeeping.

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This kit offers everything a new beekeeper needs to get started, except for the bees! Besides the wood top bar hive box, it comes with a ventilated beekeeping jacket with round veil, ventilated beekeeping gloves, a stainless steel American-style smoker, a beekeeping brush, 16 ounces of 100% pure Tung oil for finishing the wood, an assembly guide, and a top bar beekeeping book. The starter kit saves you about $$$ versus buying the items separately.

This hive is made of Douglas fir legs capable of supporting over 300 pounds and a solid bottom board. It comes with stainless steel self-drilling screws for assembly of both the hive and the roof. It has 28 foundationless top bards with edge comb guides. The individual parts and accessories can all be purchased separately.

  • Cheaper as a packaged kit than purchasing separately
  • Includes instructions for assembly and a guide book to get started with a top bar hive

This product can be found on Amazon for around $$$ including shipping. 

This beekeeping technique is popular with hobbyists who want to have a small beekeeping operation. This kit is a great way to get started and have the equipment needed to assemble, set up and maintain a hive.

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A Warre’s Hive is made up of tiers of identical boxes fitted with top bars. It is simple to build and easy to put in use. It was developed in France by Abbe Emile Warre who was concerned about the decline of beekeeping in France. His goal was a system that would be easy to build, set up, and maintain. A Warre hive only needs to be opened once a year at harvest. Each tier has eight top bars resting on the box with wax starter strips under each top bar. This model has four tiers and a galvanized iron roof.

  • Designed to be easy to build, setup and maintain
  • Very economical kit
  • Ships from the Russian Federation and problems with receiving product have been reported
  • With just eight top bars in each tier it may seem small
  • Requires assembly and finishing

This product can be found on Amazon for around $$$ plus a small shipping charge. This Warre style of hive usually costs 1/4 to 1/3 what the cost of a similar size beehive box in the Langstroth tradition.

This top bar hive supplier has been criticized for delivery issues. The shipping price quoted on Amazon is very reasonable but there is a warning to check on possible issues with the hive being shipped from the Russian Federation.

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The Lotus energy Top Bar Bee Hive is built with 3/4 inch A and B grade solid pine. This kit includes the wood, instructions, and weatherproof screws for assembly. The hive base is 39″ long and the bottom board is 41 1/2 inches long. The top bars are 1 1/4 inches wide and 16 3/4 inches long with a v-shaped bevel to promote straight comb building down from the top bars. The way the top bars are designed eliminates the need for adding splines on this model. This kit comes with a follower board that takes the place of a top bar. It has three spare top bars.

  • Has three spare top bars
  • Top bar design eliminates the need for splines to be added
  • Kit doesn’t include a roof
  • Comes unpainted
  • User must build the kit

This product can be found on Amazon for around $$$ including shipping.

The design of this beehive seems ideal, and it holds a good number of top bars. Assembly is needed before you can get started.

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This top bar hive is built of 3/4″ pine lumber. This is a kit that comes with 28 top bars with beeswax starter strips for the bees to build on, and a sturdy stand of metal legs.  Overall size is 10 inches high by 20 inches wide by 38 inches long. It has a solid bottom board with three-inch entrance landing board. There is an observation window on one side with a door. Screws and glue are included for assembling the hive. The only tool needed to assemble the hive is a screwdriver.

  • Includes a sturdy metal leg base
  • Top bars have beeswax starter strips for the bees to build on
  • Observation window is great for sharing activity of the hive
  • Requires assembly
  • Rather expensive for a kit

This product can be found on Amazon for around $$$ with shipping included.

This box, once assembled and finished, will be a good environment for bees and an attractive addition to a backyard or other area. Top bar hives are enjoyed by people who want the experience of learning about bees and watching their activity. The observation window in this hive box is ideal for sharing the activity of the hive with family and friends.

Some people attracted to the idea of top bar beehives will want to build their own either from scratch or from a kit. The kits we reviewed here contain the hardware and instructions to help the assembler. The wood look and the interesting lines of these boxes make them attractive additions to a backyard environment. They can be finished with paint, tung oil or other stain and varnish combinations that are bee-friendly. The Beepods hive, the highest priced of those we reviewed, offers a really beautiful design, almost like furniture. The other advantages of this model is the support from a company that also sells bees and helps beekeepers get off to a successful start.

The Colibrox model at around $$ is a kit that makes a small beehive that might be a good starting point. The more expensive kits might be a bigger decision with the responsibility to get the project assembled but they offer larger boxes with more top bars.

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