We have started a single top-bar hive and will have more, eventually. It started with a Craig’s List post asking for used water sport equipment in exchange for top-bar bee hives with bees and initial instruction in beekeeping. Well, I had an inflatable Achilles with a 2hp Honda motor doing nothing in my garage, so I gave James Severtson a call.
A deal was struck and we received two of James’ hives and the bees to go with them! James came out to the farm and we set up the hives and populated them with bees from James’ apiary operation. Each was equipped with a queen in a cage and a few thousand bees. The entrance to the hives was blocked with a “queen excluder,” which is a plastic grate that has holes allowing worker bees access and egress, but too small for the queen to pass through. The idea is to give the workers a chance to get to know the queen while they are accustoming themselves to the new hive and keep the queen at home. The excluder comes off after three days.
Here’s a portrait of our queen, as an innocent young thing.
New top-bar hives need inspection every 7-10 days when getting a vigorous start. Basically, we are preventing cross-combing and encouraging production by manipulating the comb order. They get room to grow the hive and make honey and everyone’s happy.