KTBH - Kenya Top Bar Hives



KTBH KTBH KTBH Cover Fastener KTBH Bottom Board KTBH Bottom Board

If you click on any of these pictures you will go to the larger image.

The KHTB hive lends itself well to ANAP beekeeping.

While researching on possible hives to start beekeeping with, I found the KTBH.  It was particularly well suited for my needs.  I saw the hive as something very simple, with few parts, easy to tend, and easy to build.  You can check out the videos below to see if you think you can build one.  If you just don't feel the KTBH is something you can build and wish to purchase then Backyard Hive is the place for you.   

The hives pictured above were made following Phil Chandler's plans.  I found the plans easy to follow and first built a hive exactly by the plans.  I soon made 2 minor changes.  First I moved to 2x4 inch legs for a stronger or more stable hive.  The second thing was to substitute the 1 by lumber with 2 by lumber for the added thickness and insulation.  I'm not sure this makes a difference but it does make a thicker board to work with during construction. 

I also made several shorter hives to use a bait hives or nucs (starter hives).   The bait hives are essentially the same as the regular hives just much shorter; about 18 to 20 inches.  These bait hives will hold about 13 top bars.

The quickest way to get started with the KTBH is to read Phil's book. The Barefoot Beekeeper  This book explains the use of the KTBH in detail.  Things such as follower boards, top bars, and open mesh bottoms will all make sense after reading the book.  Then you can download the hive plans for free at www.biobees.com , Phil's website.

I have made a series of videos on how to build these hives with Phil's plans and I'm posting them here and on the forums as well.

The hardest and/or most dangerous part of building the hive is the top bars; especially if you are using power tools.  Be careful!  If you wish to buy a hive or build a hive and skip this step then you can purchase your hive or just the top bars from Backyard Hive .  I really like these top bars and they are a great value if you like all your fingers.  And for ANAP beekeeping with Langstroth hives...they also have foundationless frames built with the same comb guide as the top bars.  If you are building the hive from Phil's plans tell them you would like 17 inch top bars.  In fact if you build any hive other than theirs you should tell them how long your top bars are.  In a 4 foot hive you need about 30 top bars to fill it but if you want to start small you can get by with 20. 

Here is a great list of books on the Top Bar Hives and Natural Beekeeping 


How To Videos

These videos can be copied and saved to your computer with WM Recorder 


How to Build a KTBH - Part 1 - Top Bars


How To Build A KTBH - Part 2 - Follower Boards


How To Build A Kenya Top Bar Hive - Part 3 - Legs and Hive Ends


How To Build A Kenya Top Bar Hive - Part 4 - Drill Legs and Attach Ends


How To Build A Kenya Top Bar Hive - Part 5 - Finish Hive and Attach Legs


How To Build A Kenya Top Bar Hive - Part 6 - Lid


These videos can be copied and saved to your computer with WM Recorder 



Last modified: 01 January 2013
David Wright
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