Top Bar Hive Split in a Square Box…

by Peggy Garnes

A member of the Medina County Beekeepers had a booming top bar hive that needed to be split before winter and called with an offer to split with a bar exchange…what a deal.


I drove the hour to his house and spent about the same amount of time with him and his wife going through the top bar looking at bars with comb, locating the queen and safely moving her to a holding box and deciding what bars could leave.


Ten complete bars were chosen filled with different stages of brood and larvae, nectar and pollen, and all adhering bees.  Looked to be about 5 to 7 pounds of bees.  This will make a great starter.  I have a young queen ready, about 3 months old and laying very good pattern.  Should make an easy split.


We placed bees and bars in a 10 frame deep langstroth hive box, screened the ends and put the box on a screened bottom board.  With everything nailed and bungee-corded down, I head back home.                                                                                                 


The arrival home was uneventful, put a feeder jar and pollen patty in the bottom of the box and left them overnight.


Monday was the bee club picnic and while loading the truck, I took a tumble and my life went on hold for almost three weeks while body parts healed.  Meanwhile, the top bar split continued to grow!  Another member of the club came on Wednesday to help me install the queen in a cage and have her marked.  Amazing what you can’t do with one good hand.


Finally, I managed to move the split into the top bar hive but not without carving off the square edges of new capped brood!  What a mess and some slightly angry bees.  Even the queen cage had been completely built around with comb and had eggs laid in it.  I’m glad I only put her in with marshmallow in the end and not a cork.



I will attach some photos of the trimmings.  I did manage to make three frames with rubber banded comb for another hive to finish the brood off. 

The top bar is doing quite well and should make it through the winter easily.                                                                                                   


The next step will be to insulate the hive well on the sides and top.  I am told that is all it will need, we will see.


Peggy Garnes is a 15- year beekeeper, now raising and selling queens and nucs. She is the President of the Medina County Beekeepers Association, and the Advertising Manager for Bee Culture Magazine.