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.

Comparison Table

Product FAQ

What Is A Top Bar Hive?

What Are The Advantages Of A Top Bar Hive?

How Does A Top Bar Beehive Work?

Where Can You Buy A Top Bar Hive?

What We Reviewed


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

Overall Price Range Of Top Bar Hives

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 $$$ to $$$$.

Features

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 Amazon.com. 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.

Pros

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

Cons

  • This is a very expensive hive
  • Price
  • Where To buy
  • Performance

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

Features 

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.

Pros

  • Reasonably priced with hardware and instructions
  • Kit includes spare bars
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee against defects

Cons

  • Unpainted
  • Has no roof in kit
  • With only 12 bars this kit may make a smaller hive than expected
  • Price
  • Where To buy
  • Performance

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

Features 

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.

Pros

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

Cons

  • Somewhat pricy for a kit
  • Price
  • Where To buy
  • Performance

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

Features

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.

Pros

  • Designed to be easy to build, setup and maintain
  • Very economical kit

Cons

  • 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
  • Price
  • Where To buy
  • Performance

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.

Features

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.

Pros

  • Has three spare top bars
  • Top bar design eliminates the need for splines to be added

Cons

  • Kit doesn't include a roof
  • Comes unpainted
  • User must build the kit
  • Price
  • Where To buy
  • Performance

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

Features 

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.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Requires assembly
  • Rather expensive for a kit
  • Price
  • Where To buy
  • Performance

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

The Verdict

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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