How I Build Top Bar Hives

Hive Body

My top bar hive bodies are built from 1″ x 6″ x 6′ lumber, glued together forming the basic building stock. Individual parts are cut out of the building stock. Then they are glued and screwed together.



First, build the bottom. Bevel the sides at the same angle as the sidewall slope. Leave enough room on the bottom cleat to set the end piece.


Then, cut out the ends and fastened them to the bottom.


Next, fasten on the sides. The sides have beveled edges at the same angel as the sides slope off vertical. The bevels are parallel to each other.


“Finally, the entrances are cut. The hive is painted. Spacing cleats are fastened on each end. And lifting cleats are added if desired.

Top Bars

Top bar with beeswax filled saw kerf.

Next make the top bars. I make mine from studs as they are cheap and easily obtained. And at 1 3/4″ thick, they are a near fit to a top bar width.

Use a table saw to rip the top bars. For rigidity, I rip my top bar stock 1″ thick. Then cut the top bar width to 1 1/4″.

A top bar with half it’s T reinforced top bars.

A 1/8″ deep saw kerf is cut down the bottom center. And then they are cut them to the right length.

The saw kerf with hot molten beeswax. Then a second bead of cooler melted beeswax is run on top of the first one. A slightly raised beeswax line results. It is firmly attached and runs down the center of each bar.

This top bar is easy and fast to build. It’s strong and stores readily.

I build several extra top bars and rip them into 1/4″ strips. They take the place of a couple of top bars toward the rear of the hive. These strips are inserted between top bars, in the honey storage area, when the bees want a wider comb width. And they are removed when the wood swells to allow easy top bar hive removal.

Two additional top bars are cut to 1 1/8″ width and used as spacer cleats on each end of the hive.

Cover and Accessories

Cover and follower board.

My covers have a frame of 3/4″ lumber covered by 1/2″ OSB. I insulate them with 2″ of blue foam. They telescope down to cover the ends of the top bars. Sheet metal or corrugated roofing waterproofs the flat covers.

Need plans? Check out my Plans page.