The Colorado Top Bar Beehive


Please see our Working in the CTB Hive section for instructions on beekeeping with this hive.

The Colorado Top bar hive is a modern adaption of the Kenyan Top Bar beehive. This design increases the hive space by adding top bars in a horizontal direction and has been designed to follow in a tradition of natural beekeeping methods.

The Colorado Top Bar was developed by the Open Source Beehives team in Denver, Colorado and has been adapted and tested at Fab Lab Barcelona.

Why Top Bar Hives?

Top Bar hives were designed in Kenya, where African honeybees tend to be more defensive than the gentle European breeds found in the United States and EU. The top bars (part of the hive that holds the comb) rest above the main colony chamber, touching on all sides to create a false lid. This allows gentle hive inspections, only disturbing a small portion of the hive at a time. Bees are known to be more calm and gentle in top bar hives.

Top bar hives also allow the bees to build “natural” or “free” comb. Other styles of hive such as the Langstroth hive typically use pre-made plastic foundations or commercially produced wax comb, whereas Top Bar hives allow the bees to build their own comb, limiting their exposure to foreign substances. It has also been argued that the bees build smaller cell sizes in free comb, allowing them to more easily manage Varroa Mites (common pathogen in honeybee colonies) reproducing inside the cells.

Last, top bar hives contain minimal parts and require little to no equipment to harvest honey and wax.


  • Open Source Hardware = open to adapt
  • Locking system = no screws
  • Fits one standard board
  • Reversible entrance for different seasons
  • Removable base tray
  • Removable lid