Viewer mail: Top bar hives

Scott in Illinois writes:


Do you keep any top bar hives, or have you in the past? I am a first-year beekeeper and have 3 top bar hives. I have already made arrangements to add 3 more and 2 foundationless Langstroth hives to my apiaries.

The reason I ask is that it seems like the philosophies of the top bar beekeepers mirror your style of Backwards Beekeeping and vice versa. If you had a preference I would be interested in hearing it.

I also have watched some of your swarm captures and cutouts and it seems that your bees draw out comb much faster than the bees do here in Illinois; do you have any thoughts why that might be?...

We are basically done at the hives til spring here so I don't want to drive myself nuts trying to think like a bee if someone already knows the answer.


Scott P
Kankakee IL

Kirk responds:

I don't have any top bar hives myself. Sam Comfort up in New York State does, and is very successful with them. The top bar hive philosophy is very Backwards; its design was to be simple and cheap so people could keep bees without going broke.

Bees draw comb as needed so it depends on the flow. The last two years have been very good—the two before were the shits. You don't have to think like a bee, the bees do that pretty good. Being Backwards is always more interesting than the conventional beekeeping. Send us some of your pictures would you? We would love to share your knowledge and your success.


UPDATE: You can see Scott's YouTube channel here.