Top Bar Hive – A New Member In My Bee Family

There’s A New Member In The Family And It’s A Top Bar Hive

I spent all last week at the treatment free beekeeping conference in Leominster, MA. Every year it is hosted by Dean Stiglitz and Laurie Herboldsheimer of Golden Rule Honey.  I will be writing all about the conference this week but for now I wanted to share with you the best part of all.  Look what hitched a ride back home with me courtesy of Sam Comfort at Anarchy Apiaires. It’s a new top bar hive filled to the brim with Sam’s treatment free bees.

Check out the show they put on today for the rest of the hives in my apiary.  I think they were showing off just how cool they were.  What do you think?

This post was shared on the Homestead Barn Hop and Homestead Revival.

Author: Anita Deeley

Anita Deeley is a biologist and former state bee inspector who maintains 100 honey bee hives. She is the beekeeper, writer, owner and creator of When she is not spending time with her girls (the bees), she enjoys being a wife to her beekeeping cohort, Brian and mother to 3 little boys (the beekeepers in training). Read more about Anita here >> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Connect with Anita on Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Facebook here.


  1. Finally!!! Someone I know and can follow the chronicles of a top bar hive. Can’t wait to hear your wintering experience as well as see the great pictures you will have upon hive inspection. Keep us posted.

    I went to that site and watched the video of Dean and Laurie. I DIG ‘EM!!!!!! Treatment free and no feeding…. hrmmmm… sounds interesting.. 🙂

    • I’m so happy I went to this conference. You need to go to the one in March in Arizona. I’m going. I learned so much! I will write about it soon but I need to digest it all. My head is still spinning. Many rock stars from the treatment free world were there all week and you could talk to them as much as you wanted. It was amazing! I had heard the top bars had trouble overwintering but this is simply not true as proved by the people in attendance at the conference. I really hope my bees make it in there. They are small cell, foundationless, northern bred treatment free bees. And don’t worry, I will not feed them sugar!

  2. Hey,
    Aren’t they one the ones that wrote The Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping?

    Your TBH looks cool. I’ve always wanted to keep one just for the experience, but I’ve heard that TBH have a problem with moisture in my neck of the woods.

    I’ve always wondered how you would expand it if your bees needed more room.

    • Yes they did write that book. I have heard that top bar hives have problems with wintering and all kinds of things. Then I went to the treatment free conference and met Sam Comfort. He breaks all the rules and proves everyone wrong. His website is down right now but when it’s back up, check it out and if you ever have a chance to see him speak go and watch. He has completely changed my view of beekeeping for the better. It is actually easier to expand and make splits with a top bar than a Langstroth and the hives can be made out of anything for very cheap money. Also contrary to what I’ve heard around here, top bars are excellent at overwintering. I’m excited to try it out here.

  3. Hi I live in Kent UK, we or nobody I know has top bar here, although we all know about them always told they are too much trouble to keep, I am in ore of your bees and follow all your updates, I only wish we could come to these events with you…I shall wait patiently for any forthcoming news and follow ups on the new TBH,Such a great thread and page. I have but 3 hives in my back garden, we have just not had weather suitable for anything this year and only just begone a long awaited summer with a spring of continous rain and low temperatures, and last my hives are picking up, but not enough this year for us to take anything but leave it all for them and their overwintering, currently free of any mites ot nosema (I test myself), but undoubtedly here we shall need to treat soon, We have had swarm after swarm even with artifically swarming, and removal of queen cells, colonies just continue to want to supercede, we shall suceed in the end, Good luck and I wait with impatience. Wendy (by the way I have an Aster, Bluebell and Cowslip…)

    • Hi Wendy – Welcome! I wish you could come to the events too! I’m lucky there are so many beekeeping organizations and events nearby. There is so much to learn about beekeeping I am learning new things every day. Other beekeepers can show you things you just can’t learn from books alone. Before the treatment free beekeeping conference I did not know anyone who was using top bar hives either. I was so impressed by what I learned there I am excited to try it out. I really hope those girls in the top bar survive the winter and I can get some treatment free gene lines in my apiary. I’ve heard the weather in your area has been hard for the bees this year. One good thing about all the swarming is it breaks up the brood cycle which drastically reduces the mite population since they thrive in the brood cells. It’s one way that bees can “self regulate” for mites even if that was not their intention. If your bees have swarmed recently you should not have to treat for mites at all. I was told at the conference that it takes 20 hives to be a sustainable treatment free beekeeper. The loses can be severe at times and it can take 5 years to breed locally adapted resistant bees. That is very hard for a beekeeper with a few hives to try to accomplish. But if you do decide to not treat it will be better for the bees in the long run. The treatments end up breeding stronger pests and weaker bees. I love your hive names! They are just beautiful. I have been thinking about naming one of my new hives Aster too. Thanks for following the blog!

  4. I love the picture…you should enter it in the Mass Bee photo contest!

    • Thanks Dean! That’s a great idea. I may just do that. 🙂

    • And thanks again for hosting such an amazing conference. I learned so much! I am really excited to do treatment free beekeeping now (instead of scared as I was before when everyone I met told me it was impossible). Meeting everyone there who is successfully doing it really gave me confidence to go ahead and try it myself. Thank you for that!

  5. Everyone told you it was impossible to keep treatment-free bees? Well, I submit myself as proof that it can be done!

    I’ll be excited to learn more about TBH through your eyes!

    • I guess I should have said “everyone except my blog friends.” I know you aren’t treating Mil! I decided not to this year but was nervous about it since most of the bee conferences talk about mites and mite treatments and why you need to do it to keep your bees alive. It’s one thing reading about treatment free beekeeping online and another actually meeting people who have done it successfully.

  6. Hi there,
    can you post the dimensions of the follower board please (upper and lower). Thank you

  7. Hi Anita,

    I am wondering where the entrance is on Sam’s TBHs. They do not have a solid end at all, right? Just the follower boards to keep it simple? Is the entrance just a gap in the follower or a gap between bars?