Height and Width: Building a Top Bar Hive on the Cheap – Part 2

While I sit tight and wait to see how my colony turn outs (hoping they’ve made themselves a new queen), I continue to work on the new hive I’m building.

In part one of this series, my wife and I built the body and legs of the hive. Here I will document how we installed the screened/solid bottom board combo and built the lid

The screen/solid bottom board combo is a nice feature. It will allow us to control the mite and beetle population while also controlling ventilation. In the winter, the solid bottom board can be mounted flush with the body of the hive so no cold air can get in. In the summer, we’ll lower the solid part so that the hot air can escape.

The screen is 1/8″ carpenter cloth. It’s small enough for mites and beetles to fall through, but not big enough for bees. DOn’t try and use 1/4″. It won’t work. 1/8″ is hard to find in hardware stores, so I had to order mine online. It cost $27.29 including shipping and tax. I got it from EssentialHardware.com. A little pricey, but I got a 10 foot roll that is 4′ wide. I will be able to use it on the next 20 hives. So the real cost for this specific project was only about $1.50.


The solid bottom board is 45 inches long by 1.5 inches thick. I drilled two 5/8″ holes in each end and then attached it to the the body with a 3/8″ six inch long hex bolt. Then I put wing nuts under the board so I can control the drop. See below.




The lid was quite a challenge for me, mostly because I wanted to build a gabled roof with a slope on each side. It’s a precise things to make, and I wasn’t so precise with my circular saw. So I had to do a lot of sanding to get it right. It was a frustrating evening!

I started with an 8 foot piece of 1 x 6. I cut two 21 inch pieces from that. Then I made a mark on each end at 4 inches high and drew a line from the four inch mark to the middle of the board. That was my angled cutting line. The middle of the gabled roof ended up being six inches high, and the sides 4 inches high. Kind of confusing, I know, but the photo below shows what I’m talking about.


Once those pieces were cut, I completed the frame of the room by connecting the end caps with two 47.25 inch 1 x 4s (which are actually only 3.5 inches tall). The difference between the height of the end caps and the height of the connecting boards allows me to have ventilation on each side of the roof. I’m pretty paranoid about ventilation after having a colony swarm due to heat. I’m trying to prevent that in the future.


I completed the roof by screwing a pre-cut 48 inch 1×12 on each side of the gabled roof.



Next I wanted to make the roof easy to open and close. I added two 6 inch 2×4 blocks on the back of the hive body, just beneath where the lid sat. Then I connected the lid and the 2×4 blocks with old door hinges my wife and I had saved from our first house.


I put one eye bolt on the side of the hive and another eye bolt on the side of the roof and connected them with a chain. Then I closed the lid and put a line of caulk between the two top pieces to keep rain out. It turned out really nice!


The hive is looking good. It’s going to be functional and pretty, I think. Right now, I’ve spent about $80 on it. I’ll share the exact cost on the final part of this series.

I have four steps left:

  • Paint
  • Make a follower/spacer board
  • Add wedges to each top bar
  • Add entrance holes and a landing strip

I am hoping to be done this weekend. I’ll post photos of the final product when I’m finished!

3 thoughts on “Height and Width: Building a Top Bar Hive on the Cheap – Part 2

  1. I’m impressed! A friend made a nuc for us, and our local beekeeping assoc held an ‘assemble your own’ hive session where we, er, assembled the various parts of the hive. But don’t think I could do it from scratch!

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