Traditional bee skeps in a bee bole. Photo from Les Crowder’s book “Top-Bar Beekeeping”
3. Top Bar Hive
A top bar hive from Corwin Bell at backyardhive.com in Colorado. It is set on cinder blocks. This hive has a long open front entrance as opposed to circular holes. The roof comes off completely
4. Log Hives
5. Lithuanian Museum of Ancient Beekeeping
6. A warré hive
The bottom three boxes have bees, the top box is a feeder box for internal feeding and the roof is placed over the “quilt”. A quilt is filled with sawdust or wood shavings and is used to wick away moisture from the hive. New boxes are placed beneath the hive, so that the bees can build naturally down.
A langstroth hive. This hive has 8 frames inside instead of the usual 10. If you are going to use the standard langstroth hive, I suggest using foundationless frames and allowing the bees to build their own comb. There is a feeder with honey-syrup attached to the front.
8. Bear proofing
Bear proof electrical fence example.
9. Alternative Hive Styles
Two alternative hive styles: The sun hive on the left and a golden hive on the right. Logs are prepared behind the hives for future installation.
10. Top Bar Hive
Top Bar hive and stand from Bee Thinking. This company went out of business this spring, but you can still find their hive plans online. The lattice wall is also a nice way to protect your bees from wind and public view. The hive has circular entrance holes that can be reduced in size depending on needs/ season. The roof hinges open.
11. Les Crowder
A photo of Les Crowder in his apiary from Top Bar Beekeeping.
12. Top Bar Hive with metal roof
13. Top Bar Hive
A top bar hive from backyardhive.com set on a table.
14. TBH window - backyardhive.com
Viewing window from a top bar hive using hive plans from backyardhive.com. The window is great for observation and allows you to see whats going on without needing to visit the interior as often.
15. Listening to the Hum
16. Hive spacers
Bees at the entrance of a top bar hive built from plans by Phil Chandler of The Backyard Beekeeper. Entrance holes can be closed up/ reduced during winter using champagne corks.
17. Top bar hive tool in use
18. Top bar hive tool
A top bar hive visit. You do not need very much space to open a top bar. Just enough to gently pull one frame out at a time. The top bar hive tools from backyardhive.com work wonders. They are meant to wedge top bars apart, cut comb away from where it has attached against the slanted walls and pry top bar ends away from sticky propolis.
19. TBH Entrance
View from the top down of spacers placed in between the back of the hive where the honey stores are kept. Brood comb is usually at the front of the hive and tends to be more narrow than honey comb. The honey stores are kept at the back of the hive and can get quite fat. Hive spaces put between top bars can help compensate for the thicker comb.
20. Warre hive
warre hive without the feeder or roof.
21. Hive tool
Wedging apart two hive boxes with a hive tool.
22. Inside the Hive
The underside of a warré hive box. This is not a great way to get into a warre hive, but I’ve included it for visual learning purposes.
23. Painted Warré Hive
A painted Warré hive from the Natural Beekeeping Trust.
24. Natural Beekeeping Trust
An example of a beautiful apiary in the UK. Here you see six different hives. The three on the left are golden hives (one room hives) and the one in the center between the doors is a Warré hive.
25. Painted TBH
Painted top bar hive. If you are going to paint your hives, use eco-friendly, zero VOC paint made from natural materials.
26. Rowan Hive
28. Slovenian Bee House
29. Sacred Trust Hive
30. Langstroth comb
Pulling out a frame of honey in a langstroth hive. The bees drew out the comb on their own without foundation.
31. Brood comb
Here you see yellow wax capping covering brood. Brood is always a darker shade than the white wax capping that indicate honey. This is a great example of healthy brood comb. It’s always a good sign to see brood cells tightly packed together. When they are too sparsely spaced apart it could be a sign of varroa or a sick queen.
32. Pollen and Brood
An example of brood comb at the bottom and pollen/bee bread in the cells above. When the brood hatches the new bees will be fed the fermented pollen.
33. Larva and eggs
Signs of eggs and larva. The larva look like circular fat white worms. The eggs look like tiny white rice kernels. The larva can be seen at about 12:00 and the eggs at 3:00.
34. More larva being tended to by bees.
35. More examples of larva around 7:00. Zoom in!
36. The Queen
Here you have the queen surrounded by attendants who are all facing in toward her. This flower of attendants is a common thing to look for when searching for the queen.
37. More healthy brood
38. Honey stores
Honey stores and nectar. The honey is capped with white wax when it’s ripe. The nectar is glistening below and still in the process of ripening.
39. Inside TBH
The view between two combs of bees within the hive.
40. Through the window
Through the top bar window. You can see long cells of honey. The bees have fattened the honey comb to accommodate extra stores.
Bees festooning between comb. The bees will festoon like this when they are building comb. It’s always very sweet to see.
42. Cross Comb 1
An example of cross comb that has been inverted. This is a hive that died int he winter. All of these honey combs were stuck together and could not be separated without a knife.
43. Cross Comb 2
Cross comb view from above. To access the comb you would have to cut away places where the comb is attached. It can be very messy and cause upset in the hive if you expose to much broken honey.
44. Cross Comb 3
Remains of cross comb still attached to window.
45. Cross Comb 4
More examples of cross comb. This single comb stretches across three top bars. To pull it out I had to removed all three top bars together.
46. Spotty brood
An example of a spotty brood pattern - possible indication of varroa. The top right of the comb is filled with honey, while the bottom is bits of brood and pollen. The brood could also be just fine! It really depends on bees. Don't assume, be make informed guesses.
47. Top bar view
A top bar comb with brood at the very bottom, honey at the very top and open cells between. Honey is often found at the top of the brood combs in an arc. Below the honey you will often find pollen, then brood. However, bees are creative and don’t always do things the same way!
48. warre comb with honey and brood
Created “entrance reducers”. Here the hive entrances is blocked except for some small entrance holes to help the new bees protect their colony from robbers.
50. Beautiful Brood
An example of a varroa mite on the back of a bee. You can see the tiny red oval disk on the bee near the center right. Almost all hives get varroa at some point, but healthy hives can withstand the parasite.
52. Virgin Comb
Young virgin comb being built out in a warre hive.