BeeRepair Frankenhive

At least a few times a year someone asks me about how to transfer a Langstroth Hive into a Top Bar Hive.  Sadly the two systems are not compatible and there is no elegant way to put Langstroth frames into a top bar hive, so my answer has always been, “Wait ’til they swarm, catch the swarm and put it in your TBH,”  At least that has been my answer up ’til now.

Before I deliver the good news I want to mention the bad and the ugly.  I did some searching around the internet to see what others have tried.  A 25 minute YouTube video reveals a guy with a template sawing away at his Langstroth frames.  Yes, this can be done. It is long, arduous, messy and disruptive. Another video shows a couple guys putting the  Langstroth frames in the back end of the top bar hive perpendicular to the top bars.  Not sure how that’s gonna work, guys….You will get cross combing like crazy and those frames ain’t ever coming out.

The two systems both function on beespace but other than that they are different shapes and function on different premises.  You could of course build what is called a “long hive.”  This is a horizontal Langstroth. Aside from it’s horizontality though, it is still a Langstroth hive and not a top bar hive.  The bees are still building inside of frames and the frames do not butt up against eachother to form the bee-space and really you are no closer to having your bees in a top bar hive than you were before.

Now as a top bar beekeeper I don’t usually have to worry about this.  I make splits from my top bars into other top bars or top bar nucs, I catch swarms and put them directly into top bar hives of my own design.  But I moved and I would like to buy some survivor stock bees from a local supplier and they  only sell bees in Lang Nucs–no packages.

Now generally speaking a Nuc is way better than a package…it is already a functional colony with a queen living with her own daughters and raising her own brood.  The only issue for me, is that I cannot easily and elegantly put one into my top bar boxes. Necessity is the mother of invention as they say…so I watched all those videos and used my bee knowledge and a little ingenuity to invent a transfer hive  that can work elegantly with as little disruption of the bees as possible.

The basic principal is simple.  I have a Lang Nuc frankensteined onto a top bar hive.  When I get my Nuc, I transfer the frames into the Nuc portion of my Frankenhive.  When the bees start to build, they will build onto the top bars.  I gave them a few paddles of finished top bar comb so they get the idea….Once there is a significant amount of brood in the top bar section I can, if I like, isolate the queen in the top bar section with a queen excluder. Then, once all the brood is hatched from the Lang portion I can. if I like, remove the Nuc and replace the end board of the top bar hive.

Feel free to use and adapt my idea.  Feel free to credit me and as well…especially if you adapt for sale ( :  Thx.

front view showing nuc cut to line up with front end of top bar hive


side view showing how Nuc attaches to top bar hive with a piece of 1 x 2 on each side.  The 1 x2s are permanently attached to the Nuc and slide around the front end of top bar hive and held in place by a single screw on each side for easy removal later.


queen excluder has been cut to size and slides into place. note small tabs that hold queen excluder in place.


front view showing entrance holes and landing board.

Here’s what you need:

One top bar hive
One empty lang nuc
One plastic queen excluder
A few small bit and pieces of wood:
— Bottom of the Nuc
— Lid for the Nuc
— Landing Board
— Small tabs to hold the queen excluder in place
— Strips of 1 x 2  to hold the Nuc box onto the top bar

Here’s how
1. Remove the front board of your top bar hive
2. Hold the nuc up to your top bar hive using the now open front end to mark the hole you will cut into the Nuc, then cut the Nuc.
3.Use a piece of 1 x 2 on each side to affix the Nuc to the top Bar Hive.  I have these strips permanently attached to the Nuc so that I just need 2 screws to temporarily attach it to the TBH.
4.Cut you queen excluder to size.  I used two thin pieces if plywood to make guides allowing me ti slide the queen excluder into place.
5.  Drill entrance holes into the Nuc.
6. I also made a landing board that supports the Nuc when the whole things is sitting on a table.
7. Make some sort of lid for the Nuc.  Mine telescopes on 3 sides and is open on the side it butts up to the TBH

here again, the whole set up, with lids on both sections.