Since 2008 we’ve been the world’s premier top bar hive and Warre hive manufacturer. We have a wonderful storefront located in Southeast Portland, Oregon specializing in top bar hives and Warre hives. We’re proud to say that we're the only brick and mortar top bar hive supplier in the world (as far as we're aware). From 10:00AM-6:00PM Pacific Time Monday-Saturday, and now Sundays from 12PM-5PM, you can call and reach a Bee Thinking representative to answer your beekeeping questions or help you with your order.
All of our top bar hives and Warre hives are made from Western Red Cedar harvested in the Pacific Northwest in the United States. While it costs more, we select only kiln dried, tight knot Western Red Cedar for our hives. Our wood is kiln dried to between 9% and 12% moisture to minimize warping and cracking. Other hive builders use pine due to its availability and low cost. Pine, however, requires painting in order to have a comparable longevity to Western Red Cedar. We usually don’t paint our hives, but either leave them unfinished to weather naturally, or seal them with Tung Oil.
While most of our competitors use the commercially produced and readily available ¾” lumber for their hives, we believe it is important to use wood that matches the specifications of Abbe Warre (24mm) for a number of reasons. Thicker wood improves the insulation value of the hive, keeping your hives warmer and drier. In addition, it increases the strength of the hive, making it last significantly longer. We have hundreds of thousands of board feet of cedar custom cut to over 1” thickness, and then we plane it smooth to allow for better rain run-off, oiling/painting, and overall better quality.
We produce thousands of hives per year at our mill in North Portland, Oregon. We’ve worked hard to streamline the process and ensure consistent quality of all components. We custom make our blades and even some of the tools used to manufacture our top bar hives and Warre hives.
Due to the added cost, other manufacturers usually leave it up to the customer to pre-drill the parts on their hives, or they don’t offer unassembled hives at all. We believe it is critical to the successful assembly of any cedar product to properly pre-drill all components prior to installing screws, so we do just that. In addition to making our hives stronger, this also allows us to offer unassembled hives to reduce overall cost and shipping.
Most of our competitors use nails and staples to assemble their hives. This is due to efficiency, not because it’s better. Screws vastly improve the strength of hives, with or without glue. We provide all of the screws and other hardware required to assemble your top bar hive or Warre hive.
Most other hive builder’s top bars do not feature wedge comb guides. This is because the manufacturing process is so complicated, and it’s far easier to make top bars that combine a kerf and foundation (NOT recommended). We believe that the top bar of a horizontal top bar hive or Warre hive is one of the most important components to ensure colony (and beekeeper) success. This is why all of our top bars feature wedge comb guides.
Wedge guides improve the bar strength, straight attachment, and avoid the use of chemical-laden foundation.
The rabbet joint is significantly stronger than the butt joint (the joint frequently used by other hive builders). In addition to added strength, it simplifies the assembly process should you choose to buy one of our unassembled models.
Due to concerns over chemicals, we don’t use any glue in the assembly of any component that will be part of the hive body. We leave it up to you to decide whether you will introduce glue to your hive. If you buy an unassembled hive, you can easily add glue as you screw the pre-drilled components together.
Since we use kiln dried lumber, all of our components are pre-drilled, and we use rabbet joints on most of our parts, we are able to offer unassembled hives to our customers. This reduces the cost and simplifies storage and shipping. In addition, this allows you to decide whether to use glue or other materials to strengthen the assembly of your hive. We also provide all of the screws, other hardware, and detailed, color instructions with pictures to put together your hive.