DIY Network

Beekeeping Methods: Top-Bar Hives (page 4 of 4)

Our in-house beekeeper interviewed Melissa Elliott of Melissa Bees about her frameless beehives.

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Do you have other types of hives, too (frameless or otherwise)?

As I mentioned I don't use foundation in our Langstroth hives, which makes them essentially top-bar. They're really easy to work with. I like being able to extract honey and put the comb back. I have a Warre too, which is easy to maintain here since we don't have a huge nectar flow and it doesn't get super heavy. I keep it in a shady spot though, since our summers are really hot and the ventilation isn't as good. I may end up making a screened bottom for it. I'm working on a skep and another hive I'll share when its completed!

Bees nest

What other things should someone consider if they’re going frameless?

Location, level of experience with bees, and your intentions in having them. If you live in a temperate or tropical location, a Kenyan style might work better since it was designed for hotter weather. Consider a vertical style for colder regions.

Make sure the hive has enough ventilation, especially if you live in an area with hot summers. It's important for the beginning beekeeper to understand bee biology and cycles. In order to do that you must look at comb head-on and be able to see across the hive body. This is most easily achieved with a Langstroth hive and creates a minimum of disturbance because the comb is secure on the frame and there is less brace comb to work around. Watching my students learn leads me to believe it's better to start with a Langstroth and then move on to frameless. As with all beekeeping, having a mentor is really helpful.

Lastly, if you enjoy comb honey, which is the most nutritious way to eat honey since it hasn't oxidized in the air, then frameless keeping is for you.

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