Types of beehives
The Top Bar Hive (KTH)
Tips on construction of the hive
- Use dry timber to prevent cracking and warping.
- Use whatever timber is cheap and available locally. Pine, Cyprus, Grevillia robusta are commonly used but if you have your own wood, use it.
- Try to get the hive body of the KTBH the right size.
- It is VERY IMPORTANT to follow the measurements of the top bars exactly. The top bars are made a specific measurement to make sure that the bees build one comb per each top bar making the combs easy to inspect.
- Top bars should be the right width and fit the hive body well.
- Don’t forget to wax your top bars to attract the bees. A simple way to do this is to use a paint brush to paint on melted beeswax onto the protruding ridge at the Center of the top bar. The strip of wax helps to guide the bees to build straight combs which can be inspected and harvested easily.
- All parts of the hive should fit together properly and there should be no holes.
The Mud/Stick Hive
For the mud/stick hive use the same dimensions as the body of the TBH – same length, width, height. However make the body square. For the body use about 50 long and 30 short straight sticks. Make a frame of sticks initially for the bottom (or you can also make a timber frame and add sticks as in the hive shown in the photograph). To this tie/nail on other sticks to the frame.
Use wire to tie all the sticks together. If you bind them tightly then you can have a very strong frame. Plaster the frame with mud and cow dung and leave to dry. The top bars fit along the top of the hive just like the TBH. Remember to make some small holes at one end of the hive as the entrance. As a roof you can iron sheets (tin) – however the mud/stick hive works best under shelter such as a bee house due to potential damage from heavy rain – if inside just use a sack for a cover.
Important: make the top bars the same measurement as the TBH – this allows bees to be transferred from one type of hive to the other.
The above two designs of hive are an improvement of the traditional log and basket hives because with top bars, combs are moveable. This allows management of the bees since hives are not as expensive or difficult to manage which makes them more suitable for use by small scale farmers.