Canadian Top Bar Hive.
The Kenyan horizontal top bar hive is very popular with sustainable beekeepers in the USA. It shares much of the same philosophy as the warre hive in it's use but when it comes to overwintering strength, this is where the two diverge. There is much debate in among beekeeping circles about how far north KTBH can be successfully used. Some have had good success with them in the northern USA and the Canadian Maritimes, but in Ontario, I often here comments like "they made it though the winter, but barely". The problem is the design of the hive does not allow it to easily retain heat in the winter. The top bars which usually rest on the top of the 2 side boards allow heat to escape between the bars on both the top and the ends. People will often place a piece of Styrofoam over the top of the bars which helps a bit but it still leaves the ends of the bars open and it also seals in the moisture which can be as bad for the bees as the cold. We have sought to improve upon the design and adapt it for the cold Canadian winters by taking some design queues from the warre hive.
Our thermal improvements are as follows:
- As with the warre hive, a burlap covered quilt runs the length of the hive and sits on the top bars. The quilt is filled with pine shaving which provide a high level of insulation as well as absorb moisture that is released when the bees consume honey over the winter.
- The top bars are recessed into the hive body so that the tops are flush with the hive sides and end. This allows the quilt to seal on the hive sides/end to reduce heat loss.
- Thick .96" white pine hive body walls and floor provide better insulation.
- The hive window is covered by an insulated and flanged shutter. .5" of rigid Styrofoam which presses against the window + .96" of white pine more than make up for any heat loss that would be introduced by the window. In addition, the flanged design helps seal out the light that could otherwise seep in around the shutter edges.
Other features include:
-Rabbeted joints for superior strength and ease of assembly.
-Front entrance with entrance board provides better ability for the bees to mount a united defense against yellow jacket raiders vs. multiple side entrances.
-Optional hive stand has cedar legs with double dado interlocking joints for superior strength. It is very sturdy.
-Screened roof vents provide summer ventilation of the cavity between the roof and top bars and the metal screens keep the critters out.
-Precision fitted viewing window is recessed into the hive side wall so as to not interfere with moving bars around.
-Hive body is 17.4" wide a the top x 11.6" tall x 42" long, 11.4" wide floor board,
-overhanging lip on hive side walls provides a water drip edge and make assembly easier.
- 1-3/8" wide top bars with comb guide.
-1 follower board
-Ships unassembled. It comes complete with all required parts and screws. We even include the wood glue (excluding the winter season as the glue cannot freeze). Assembly instruction are available on our website. A paper copy is not provide unless requested as we try to stay green wherever possible.
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