How to cut Top Bar Hives (Don Carrier)

                       How to cut and assemble a Top Bar Hive.  Very Basic

Use 1x 12x ¾” lumber for 2 end pieces, 2 sides, and stopper/follower board and feeder board. Pre drill holes to avoid splitting. Length of hive box varies, some 48” others 36” I like 42”, works well when feeding in cool weather or to jump start bees in early spring.

Step 1 –  on a 4ft piece of 1x12 mark and draw a line at 215/8” and cut.

-         On bottom of board come in 7” from both ends and mark

-         Set compass at 120 degrees & place on 7” mark

-         Draw a line along this edge to top of board,  need straight edge to finish line.

-         Do the same for the other mark at 7” A“trough” or V shapes forms.

-         Cut this piece at the 21 ½” mark, and leave the line when cutting.


-         You should have 4 pieces that you can use for 2 end pieces of hive box and with some later trimming,  use the other 2 pieces to make a stopper/follower board and the feeder board.

Step 2.  Cut a 1x12x3/4 to 42” length = 1 side. Cut another, same length 2nd side.

Cut a 30degree bevel along edge of 42 length of side board. Then REVERSE direction of board and cut other edge at 30 degree bevel. These are the 2 finished sides.

Step 3.  Cut 2 pieces, 3x42x3/4” Leave line when cutting. These are the two top runners, that will box in or frame in the top of hive box.  See drawings.

Step 4. Place the 2 finished sides in Jig and attach 2 SPACER BARS, 1x20L, just to steady the sides, while working on the box. If no jig, somebody can hold them. Attach the 2 end pieces you made in Step 1, using screws min. 1 ¼”. Then attach the 2 top runner boards to end pieces, to frame in top of box. See drawings.

Step 5. Mark and drill holes for entrance to FRONT of hive. Tilt your drill a little so that the finished holes have a slightly upward pitch. This will stop the rain/snow from coming in.  The bottom three holes should be about 2 ½” up from the bottom edge.  Spacing doesn’t matter, just don’t get to close to the edge, where your sides are attached.  The drill another 3 holes above first 3 holes (see drawings) REMOVE 2 SPACER BARS.

Step 6. Attach a  ¼”x20”x3/4” spacer, to the INSIDE FACE OF FRONT ENTRANCE AT TOP. This will create “bee space” at entrance holes. Can tack it from the inside of the box. TURN HIVE BOX OVER. 

Step 7. Cut a piece of #8 hardware cloth/wire mesh to cover opening. Staple along all edges.  This will be your screen bottom board.

Step 8. Cut 2 pieces of wood 1x43 x ¾” Then cut a 5/16” grove in center of each piece, to make a “track”. Then cut these 2 pieces in half. (see drawings) This “track” will support your SOLID BOTTOM BOARD. Also can be used for STICKY BOARD, when testing for mites.

Step 9. Attach 2 pieces of tracking onto screen bottom edge with screws, be careful not to drill through the track.  Put a short 1” piece across box to give support and strength to wire mesh. (see drawings) Then attach other 2 pieces of track. Trim as necessary.

Step 10. Cut a piece of ¼” Luan board, to fit and slide into tract, this is SOLID BOTTOM BOARD.

Step 11. You have 2 pieces left, that you cut in Step 1. Use these for making your stopper/follower board and your feeder board. After you cut them, attach a top bar to each. (1x19 7/8” x ¾”) and test for fit. You will have to notch the feeder board at bottom if using a bucket feeder. (See sample)

Step 12. Make a water proof cover to fit hive box. You can set hive box on concrete blocks, landscape timbers, or add leg supports to hive box, etc. to fit your height, so there’s no bending over, when inspecting/harvesting, etc. When you set up hive box LEVEL both ways (at least close to bubble) or “crooked combs” will result or sticking to the sides of box.

Step 13. Cut a bunch of top bars, 1 ¼”x19 7/8 x ¾”. Cut a grove in center of each bar, about ¼” in depth.  Insert a ¾” strip of medium brood foundation.  CENTER WAX STRIP in each top bar. Melt a little wax at base of wax strip to secure it to top bar. Or use plastic foundation, beveled cleats, etc.

Attach a landing board below front entrance holes if you want to watch bees.

Any questions, contact Don Carrier at 803 246-8932 or email:

doncarrier1941@gmail.com.  Have fun with this and modify as necessary. Thanks.