Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Top Bar Hive with observation window


I don’t have any bees yet, but I hope to be ready before long. I do have one hive set up and Jim is helping me build a Top Bar Hive with an observation window.


The opening at this end will be for the cleanout tray that slides beneath the wire mesh. The entrance will be at the opposite end. We have to drill the holes for that yet.

There will be a cover over the window on the outside so I can drop it down and see what is going on.

So far….it hasn’t cost us anything. The Plexiglas was leftover from repairing the window in the boat. The hardware cloth was left over from building the screen board for the other hive. The boards are “recycled” 2x6’s that were destined for the dump or burn pile. Jim and I loaded them up and brought them home. We split them in half …making 1 x 6’s. I still have flashing left over from the other hive for the cleanout tray. All the “top bars” are going to be made out of scrap wood also. We are using what we have….hope the bees like it.


Today we were able to get most of the finishing touches on. A door on the observation window.


I have enough “top bars” made to get started. I will  start with just a few and add them as they are needed. Each bar has a strip of wood to act as a guide so the bees will build their comb along that line.


The “follower board” allows me to adjust the size of the hive as the bees continue to raise brood and store honey….and if the “girls” will allow it….I’ll probably be sitting and watching.  Better than TV.


The cleanout tray will slide in and out of the back of the hive. It slides under wire mesh that is too small for the bees to get thru but big enough so the small hive beetles will fall thru. I’ll have either borax or diatamatious earth on it to help destroy the beetles.


Tomorrow Jim will  put  flashing on the top, and then it will need a final coat of paint.

We put 5 entrance holes near the top. Jim made bungs to put in a couple of them. Fewer entrance holes will make it easier for a small colony to defend the hive and it  will be warmer in winter.


Wednesday: Well…my “McGyver” did it again.  We were going to cover the top with flashing…but Jim remembered he had this old door out back. It is all that is left of a shed that was flattened by 3 big trees during Hurricane Charlie. It was the only thing we lost during the 3 storms that hit us: Charlie, Francis & Jean.001cs

This is the final result. Jim salvaged part of the hinges for arrows . He says it’s pointing the way to the entrance for the bees….….I think he just wants me to know which end goes to the front.


Well…the paint is dry…top bars and follower board in place …and the top is on….This is what it looks like sitting in place. Can you tell I put a dab of pink in the paint? It’s sitting on the old stand. Jim enlarged it for the TBH, and made a new one for the Langs. The coffee cans have a small amount of used motor oil in them to discourage the fire ants from trying to climb into the hive.


Nope….no bees yet….just thought I’d check.



  1. Hope the bees arrive soon, I am fascinated. Wish I was not allergic to them as it would be fun to have a hive in the back garden. Diane

  2. You're so cute in your "glee" for bees! You guys are very crafty. Loved the arrows! And very smart about the oil cans at the feet to keep the fire ants away (hopefully). Can't wait to see what you yield!

  3. Nice job with the recycling. It will be fun to watch the hive. If you build it, they will come.

  4. I think I'm as excited as you are Carol.
    A great job you both have made of this project.

  5. With your new butterfly house and now your bee hives you are ready for some activity. I'll enjoy watching from here, which is quite close enough. The allergic reaction I had to stings this summer is enough to keep me well away from them.

  6. I'm fascinated at the process too. This is exciting. I look forward to seeing your bees. Will you need to buy a queen to get it all started? Or will the bees find the hives themselves?

  7. Garden Lily.. when bees swarm it's because the hive is over crowded and they have made a new queen. The old queen leaves with part of the bees...they look for a new home...I am hopeing they pick one of my hives. I also have a swarm trap hanging near a feral hive in case they swarm.

  8. Looks like a very interesting project. Best of luck with getting some bees.

  9. Your top bar hive really came out wonderful. I started building my very first top bar hive today, which includes a small observation window, and am having a blast. I was wondering what you used to attach the plexiglass?

    Good luck with your bees

    1. Elmers wood glue. That is what was recommended to put the starter strips in, figured it would work for the window. Jim had the boards cut so there was a flat surface for the window to lay against.. it was glued to that.

      I did away with the red cans...when it rains the oil spills over.(rains alot in FL) I just use vaseline on the legs.

      I also did away with the bottom screen and tray. I had wax moths get into the hive and they ruined it. I was gone for 10 days but think the moths were already infesting the comb that I couldnt see. Didn't know it at the time. I don't know if the screened bottom hindered the bees from getting rid of the small larva or not..but took it out anyways.

      My hives are empty..hoping for a swarm or will purchase a pkg.

      Good luck with your hive.


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