Build a top-bar beehive entails building simple box hives with slats, or bars, of wood laid across the top. There are multiple styles to choose from, including Kenya top-bar beehives, Tanzanian top-bar beehives, honey-cow beehives and traditional top-bar beehives.
Honey-cow beehives are the most simple and cost-effective style to construct. This style of man-made beehive also most closely simulates a bee's natural environment. The materials required to begin building a honey-cow beehive include a 55-gallon food-grade plastic barrel, lumber, tin, wood screws and a bungee cord or tie wire.
Begin by cutting the barrel in half lengthwise and shaving off the protrusions on each end. After thoroughly cleaning it, rub down the inside with beeswax. The rounded side is the bottom. Frame around the top of the halved barrel with 1-by-2-inch nominal lumber. Then create the legs by cutting two pieces of 2-by-4-inch wood into 40-inch pieces, and screw them to the short sides of the barrel. Stabilize them by adding a brace.
Create the top bars by cutting 1-by-1 1/2-inch wood into slats the length of the diameter of the barrel, roughly 23 inches. Apply a 20-inch strip of trim molding to one side of each piece. Using the tin, create a roof covering that overlaps on all sides, and apply the bungee cord to secure it.