Q “What is a top bar beehive”
A A top-bar hive is a single-story frame-less beehive in which the comb hangs from removable bars, the bars form a continuous roof over the comb, this allows the bees to build natural comb in an environment close to which they would find in the wild. The top-bars rest freely on the hive walls without spacers, which means that the top-bars can be slid easily along the length of the hive during the inspection, without altering the sequence of the combs. In my experience, bees kept in a top bar hive are far happier and easy to inspect compared to standard framed hives. Because the bees are allowed to build comb without the need for any preformed wax foundation, cell size and the worker to drone ratio is decided by them, resulting in a well balanced and happy colony.
Q “ How do I extract honey”
A The most popular method of harvesting honey from a top-bar hive is by cutting the comb from the top-bar, crushing the comb and straining the honey, this results in honey with a higher pollen content than honey that is extracted by a centrifuge. Honey can also be harvested from top-bar comb as cut comb. Owing to the fact that crushing and straining is the most common method for honey harvesting in this type of hive, beeswax is often a by-product of top-bar hive beekeeping.
Q “Why do your hives not have a viewing window as standard”
A Although a top bar hive is designed for minimum intervention, it is your responsibility as a beekeeper to make regular checks for any signs of reportable diseases, such as AFB “American foul brood” and EFB “European foul brood”, this requires the combs to be movable. The only way to correctly check for signs is to remove the brood combs and visually check the cells, you cannot achieve this by looking through a window. Secondly, and only the bees know the answer to this, the girls will happily attach the combs to the glass, this may look really “cool” however it makes any inspection where comb removal is required, virtually impossible without causing a great deal of damage. Lastly, when not out foraging, bees live their lives in total darkness, communicating to each other by touch and other means only known to them, in my opinion a window is an unnecessary excuse to keep having a sneak “look see” . Our hives are designed to keep your bees in an as “close to natural environment” as possible, allowing light to enter their world, however infrequent can only be a disturbance.
Q ” Why are you more expensive than other manufacturers”
A One simple answer “Quality”