Here’s a woodwork project for you. If you want to know what a top bar beehive is, see our beekeeping topic introduction – but basically, it’s a relatively new style of beehive that mimics a space that bees would seek out for themselves naturally (maybe in a hollow tree) and allows them to build honeycomb in the natural way, hanging down with a rounded edge. It doesn’t have removable frames, and involves minimum disruption to the bees.
Top bar hives are used by a new wave of natural beekeepers that recognise the importance of bees, and how intensive beekeeping practices and the widespread use of pesticides have damaged bee populations in developed countries. They also recognise the crucial importance of bees in ecosystems, notably for pollinating many human food crops. If we do harm to bees, we do harm to ourselves.
If you want to join this new movement, find yourself a natural beekeeping course. See here, and on the website of the Natural Beekeeping Trust. Then you can follow the instructions below to build yourself a natural hive. Everyone could have one at the bottom of their garden. The focus with natural beekeeping isn’t to maximise honey production, it’s too look after bees. Of course, you’ll get some lovely jars of honey from your hive, but that won’t be the main reason you do it.
If you don’t have woodworking skills, read our woodworking topic introduction and see the courses and books sections under resources.
Here are a couple of videos showing how to build a top bar hive – part 1:
And part 2:
And if you prefer step-by-step plans, here’s a detailed pdf:
The designs are different, but they both work.
Happy woodworking and natural beekeeping!
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