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The Great Alaskan Top Bar Beehive for Backyard Beekeeping

Home and GardenThe Great Alaskan Top Bar Beehive

by Dennis Garrett

Are you thinking about raising bees in Alaska, for honey and other products, or to pollinate the trees and plants? This article is written for those interested in first-time beekeeping, or in the Top Bar style of beehive, or in Alaskan beekeeping tips.

Before you think to yourself it’s too early to think about bees, I will tell you that you need to order your bees in January for delivery in areas from Fairbanks south in April. This only gives you a few months to get everything ready for your bees, but is a great winter project.

Image of an Alaskan Top Bar Comb, Photo by Dennis Garrett Comb hanger designed and produced by My Alaskan Creations.

I have successfully used the Top Bar style hive for several seasons, and have some experience with more traditional forms of bee keeping and honey collecting.

The Top Bar hive is also great for those with back or similar issues. Unlike the traditional hives, the Top Bar hive is easy to manage, and you’re only pulling out one comb at a time, rather that unstacking heavy boxes of honey-laden comb. The hive is also higher, so there’s no bending over and heavy lifting. However, the average top bar hive may only produce 20-40 pounds of honey, less than the traditional hives. There is a tradeoff.

Top Bar Alaskan Beehive@ http://myalaskancreations.com/

Top Bar Hive from My Alaskan Creations

One other benefit of the Top Bar style hive is that it looks great in your garden. My friend expressed concern that my hive was so close to my cabin, but I’ve never had any problems. Friends come over and are not bothered by the bees. The bees aren’t interested in us until or unless we mess with their hive.

The cost of construction materials was about $80.

This particular top bar hive, see below for a link to inexpensive plans offered by a Big Lake Local, also has a window. This feature means you can monitor the health of the hive without taking it apart and disturbing all the thousands of bees that are just trying to get some work done. You will need to get the hive open and inspect it at least once per week, and for this you’ll need a few items to get started: A good bee jacket with hood or helmet or a full suit, bee proof gloves, a spray bottle, and even a hive smoker.

Top Bar Hive with Window

The Top Bar Hive is the natural way that bees live. The female workers collect pollen, nectar, water, and minerals and build the combs in which they store food and raise new bees. They pollinate every kind of plant in this activity. The Queen and her Drone lay eggs. For more details about how a beehive works see Keeping Bees: Using the Top-Bar Beekeeping Method at The Mother Earth News: http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/keeping-bees-top-bar-beekeeping-zmaz09onzraw

A top-bar hive is a single-story frameless beehive in which the comb hangs from removable bars. The bars form a continuous roof over the comb, whereas the frames in most current hives allow space for bees to move up or down between boxes. Hives that have frames or that use honey chambers in summer but which use similar management principles as regular top-bar hives are sometimes also referred to as top-bar hives. Top-bar hives are rectangular in shape and are typically more than twice as wide as multi-story framed hives commonly found in English speaking countries. Top-bar hives usually include one box only, and allow for beekeeping methods that interfere very little with the colony.

Pure Alaskan wildflower honey.

Top-bar hives are popular with some beekeepers who believe it is a more natural form of beekeeping. Their building does not usually require such precise measurements as modern multi-storey hives.[

Natural wax comb

Although the two most well-known styles of long top-bar hives are named "Kenyan" and "Tanzanian", the Kenyan hive was actually developed in Canada, and the so-called Tanzanian hive is not the same as the top-bar hive that was developed in Tanzania.

The design of top-bar hives has its origins in the work done in 1965 by Tredwell and Paterson.

Source and read more here : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horizontal_top-bar_hive Download the plans for the Great Alaskan Top Bar Bee Hive Here:My Alaskan Creations

See Steve Victors of Big Lake for the Best Bees.

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The Great Alaskan Top Bar Beehive for Backyard Beekeeping | 11 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
The Great Alaskan Top Bar Beehive
Authored by: Helen on Saturday, October 29 2016 @ 03:22 PM AKDT
Interesting article, what is the bottle for?
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The Great Alaskan Top Bar Beehive
Authored by: DG on Saturday, October 29 2016 @ 03:26 PM AKDT
That is an entrance feeder, early in the first couple of days I feed them organic sugar water until they find the flowers, starting with willows. They also settle down in their new home better.
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The Great Alaskan Top Bar Beehive for Backyard Beekeeping
Authored by: Sam on Saturday, October 29 2016 @ 03:33 PM AKDT
Damn now I have to try this. My wife is onboared too.
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The Great Alaskan Top Bar Beehive for Backyard Beekeeping
Authored by: DG on Sunday, October 30 2016 @ 12:58 PM AKDT
Having the window is great for the family and kids. They can watch the bees work and not be afraid of being stung.
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The Great Alaskan Top Bar Beehive for Backyard Beekeeping
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, October 29 2016 @ 03:40 PM AKDT
How many times have you been stung by the bees?
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The Great Alaskan Top Bar Beehive for Backyard Beekeeping
Authored by: DG on Saturday, October 29 2016 @ 04:02 PM AKDT
A few, but it was my own fault. I didn't spray or smoke the bees and they got agitated. As you can see from the pics they can be very calm with a little smoke.

Lesson learned.
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The Great Alaskan Top Bar Beehive for Backyard Beekeeping
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, October 29 2016 @ 04:06 PM AKDT
the bees look pretty calm in your pics, is that for real?
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The Great Alaskan Top Bar Beehive for Backyard Beekeeping
Authored by: DG on Sunday, October 30 2016 @ 12:56 PM AKDT
The bees get a little agitated when I am disturbing their perfect environment, but having the window means I only need to bother them a little. Just move slowly and don't wave at them.
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The Great Alaskan Top Bar Beehive for Backyard Beekeeping
Authored by: Nunjo on Sunday, October 30 2016 @ 01:03 PM AKDT
This looks complicated, is it really easy to raise bees in Alaska?
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The Great Alaskan Top Bar Beehive for Backyard Beekeeping
Authored by: DG on Sunday, October 30 2016 @ 01:12 PM AKDT
Easy is a relative term. They need attention about once per week. With this hive design you can open the window (an upgrade would have the window on both sides), and then plan your maintenance. I marked my bars to designate combs (C), Blanks (Used for spacers), and other bars.

Of all the types of beehives I have encountered this one is the easiest.
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The Great Alaskan Top Bar Beehive for Backyard Beekeeping
Authored by: DG on Sunday, October 30 2016 @ 01:16 PM AKDT
Also, this hive can be constructed with hand tools and readily-available dimensional lumber.
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