Top Bar or Kenyan Beekeeping

beesTop Bar or Kenyan Beekeeping

Keeping bees seems to be coming back into practice, like the urban chickens.  The technology isn’t the same bee boxes that we have seen in the orchards.  Those white boxes humming with bees.  The technology came from simple means used in Kenya and Tanzania.

The top bar, or Kenyan bee hive has only a “top bar”.  There are no sides or a frame. The bees build their comb from the slats that rest on the top of the v shaped body of the apiary. The comb hangs down from the bar at the top and they do not build the comb to touch the sides.  This is why the sides are angled like a “V”.

The top bar method produces less honey than the white bee boxes because there’s no frame to allow for centrifugal removal of the honey.  In the Kenyan, or top bar bee hive the entire comb is removed and the bees start over.  This produces more beeswax, which has its own uses.

In Seattle you can start and keep a beehive as a secondary use, meaning that you live there, and do no thave a lot simply for beekeeping.  I do not fully understand the code as it is written as far as how many feet it may be from the boundary.

E. Beekeeping. Beekeeping is permitted outright as an accessory use, when registered with the State Department of Agriculture, provided that:

1. No more than four (4) hives, each with only one (1) swarm, shall be kept on lots of less than ten thousand (10,000) square feet.

2. Hives shall not be located within twenty-five (25) feet of any lot line except when situated eight (8) feet or more above the grade immediately adjacent to the grade of the lot on which the hives are located or when situated less than eight (8) feet above the adjacent existing lot grade and behind a solid fence or hedge six (6) feet high parallel to any property line within twenty-five (25) feet of a hive and extending at least twenty (20) feet beyond the hive in both directions.

My grandfather used to keep a lot of bees.  As he is getting near 90 he has cut back to only gardening, hunting, and fishing.  As a kid I remember going to his boxes as he did maintenance and harvested combs of honey.  I don’t think I will have as many bees as he did but a hive or two sounds like a good idea to me.  I am looking at design and implementation of my own Top Bar Apiary.

2 comments on “Top Bar or Kenyan Beekeeping

  1. DirtDoctor says:

    The reason for the frame Method is so you can inspect your hives. Treat and have a healthy hive. Read up on the regs.
    the Kenyan method is similar to the KETCH, which while they look neat, are not practical to process or maintain good hive health. With all the bugs and issues harming bees, it is best to keep the hive a healthy as possible. With the Kenyan method you can NOT view inside the hive to see the queen, or visually inspect the interior, With frames you can lift, inspect and treat, or reinstall and let them have their way.
    Just my opinon
    keeper of the Farm hives. Jack

  2. kassy68 says:

    Once the hive is set up and all are doing their thing.. can you just leave it alone till fall when you goto collect the honey? or is there a lot of work to them.. always have wanted to start some, and have done some reading, but more on the hives then beekeeping itself

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