Top Bar Hive
I stopped in for fuel one day, to satisfy my thirsty 6 liter V-8 engine and got talking to a fellow at the local CITGO gas station in Port Henry. Turns out, he does all kinds of woodworking projects. After a while, Mike Blaise and I got into a discussion about bees and bee hives. He really got my ear, when the conversation led to Top Bar Hives and how they were important for raising bees. If someone is concerned about pollinators and raising bees in a more natural way, Mike would recommend a Top Bar Hive. This style of bee hive is different from the Langstroth style box hive traditionally used in raising bees.
After yaking for a while, we decided to set a day and time to go to a site and see one in operation.
Mike took me to Derrick and Loni Sprague’s homestead in Moriah to show me a Top Bar Hive they had built with Mike’s help. After donning some Beekeeper personal protective equipment, (PPE in fire fighter lingo), these masters of bee craftsmanship showed my wife Diane and I how a Top Bar hive actually functions and performs. It was cool!
A Top Bar hive lets the bees create their own honeycomb in a rounded shape, which is called a catenary curve. As cavity nesters, the bees will make their own rounded honeycomb by what is called festooning. The bees get all lined up next to each other in the curved shape and form the comb by secreting beeswax from wax glands. The wax is shaped into interconnected hexagons forming the comb. The individual hexagon cells in the comb are sized for their needs; a drone bee has one size cell, a worker bee another size. Storage of pollen and honey are also in cells.
After a few tours of bee duty at the Sprague residence, some other interested visitors are now getting together and building their own Top Bar Hives with Mike and Derricks help. These folks in Moriah have decided to do more than think about the birds and the bees. Pollination is on their mind!
They are building Top Bar Hives and will be placing them around their property to help in the pollination of wild apple trees, domestic fruit trees and vegetables in the area. These hives will help out with other plants requiring pollinators too. Along with the hives they are planting wildflowers and clover mixes to help feed the bees.
If all this talk of pollinating interests you, than you need to check out this bee book. Christy Hemenway wrote a very good book called “’The Thinking Beekeeper” which goes into detail on Top Bar Hives and the natural way to raise bees for pollination and possibly some honey.
If you are interested in building a Top Bar Hive or in raising bees, give Mike a call. Mike Blaise is very knowledgeable and as friendly a guy you will ever meet.
You can contact Mike at 546- 7414. Who knows, maybe you can work out a deal to have him build you a Top Bar Hive.
Conservation of wildlife is all of our concern. If you have a woodshop of your own, here are some other ideas for you to pass the time this winter.
Rich Redman is a retired District Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and an avid outdoorsman. His column will appear regularly. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Building plans for conservation projects
These plans were taken from the internet and are available to everyone interested in improving the wildlife habitat around your homestead. Check out the sites for all kinds of neat wildlife nesting boxes you can build and even sell.
Hey, were all in this together, so support your local forest owner, sawmilling owner, farmer and conservation woodshop craftsman.
BUY LOCAL, IT’S OUR ECONOMY YOU ARE HELPING!