[permaculture] top bar hives

Phil Chandler phil at apchosting.co.uk
Mon Apr 23 05:49:23 EDT 2007

Gene said:
 >>> Finally, I have not tried top bar hives yet, but they seem very
permacultural given the low initial cost.  The downside is that you lose the
comb each year and the brood will be mixed in with the honey if you rob it.
And you have to destroy it to rob it.  Seems kind of destructive on the
surface, but I'm sure there's a way to make it work like anything else.  I'd
like to try it in the future, especially if and when I can get some hives in
some areas that have way more good food available than there are bees to
collect it.  I know one beekeeper who thinks you should destroy the comb
every year anyway, but I have not found this to be the way of nature.  When
a swarm leaves the hive, splitting the colony, the old colony still carries
on in the same tree unless destroyed by a bear or raccoon or something.
This is the way of the beekeeper.  Ask one question and get 5 answers.<<

Only half true, I'm afraid. When harvesting honey, yes, you do remove comb, but there is almost never any brood in it as the bees store honey towards the back of the hive, away from the brood chamber. When a TBH is properly managed, honey is taken a little at a time, instead of a single 'smash and grab' raid as practised with standard hives. This enables the beekeeper to keep a closer watch on the bees, with almost no disturbance of the colony.

Bees build comb as part of their natural cycle. Frame hive users suppress their instinct to build natural comb and slow down the bees by giving them unnaturally identical, oversized and contaminated foundation wax on which to start their comb. They will, given the right conditions, build natural comb faster than they draw out foundation.

Phil Chandler

More information about the permaculture mailing list