Simple Top Bar Bee Hive

Tool Concept
Ready to Build


This low cost and simple bee hive is designed to mimic nature as much as possible. Unlike commercial hives, it does not have frames, foundation or excluders. It is a perfect beginners backyard hive. This content has an instructables entry called "The Honey Cow"
Documentation Wiki: 
Problem addressed

Commercial hives have frames, foundation or excluders, which makes them more complex to build. This low cost hive is designed to mimic nature as much as possible. Unlike commercial hives, it does not have frames, foundation or excluders. Instead, it just has top bars, allowing the bees to do what they would in a fallen log: build beautiful, natural combs. Because it is less intrusive to the bees, it's easier to make and manage, which makes it a perfect beginners backyard hive.

Functional Description

(Please add description of the operating Principles, please provide diagrams or links to references)

How to use the tool

(this would be the equivalent of an owners manual, pictures and video are excellent in this section)

Bill of materials and Sourcing

(from Instructables instruction set) MATERIALS: 55 gallon plastic barrel, preferably food grade (makes two hives) 22 feet of 1”x2” nominal lumber 46 feet of 1½”x1” lumber 2 X 8 foot of 2”x4” nominal lumber A 3 feet by 4 feet piece of tin 20 - 1½” wood screws 10 - 2” wood screws 8 - ½ “ screws Bungee Cord or tie wire 45 feet thin moulding OR natural fiber string and beeswax


circular or jig saw drill tin snips tape measure and marker

Construction/how to build

Link to instructables entry on how to build


Some of the more upscale commercially available top bar hives feature viewing windows, so you can see what your bees are up to in there with out actually opening the hive. This feature can be implemented with the Honey Cow design. Cut a rectangle the size you want your viewing window and cut a piece of reasonably flexible plexiglass, allowing a 1 inch margin on all sides. Secure the plexiglass over the window hole with screws. If you are going to paint the inside of your hive with melted bees wax before introducing the bees, apply the bees wax before installing the window, since it is hard not to splatter the melted bees wax on the window, and hard to get the bees wax off the plexiglass. A window cover can be made out of the rectangle window cut-out.

Next steps

(This section is to highlight what next steps are needed for documentation or construction to move the project along. This might contain a link to a kickstarter campaign or to a forum discussion etc.)

Market Place

(this section might link to fabricators of the tool or tool components who are members of the farm hack community)

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