For free, detailed plans, see How to Build a Top-bar Hive.
Managing a Top-bar Hive
To get started, you can capture a swarm and put it in the hive or buy a package of bees (about $80) from a beekeeping supply company.
Sometimes, bees will naturally swarm to an empty top-bar hive and populate it. To attract a swarm to the hive, put it out during the swarming season, which is late spring through midsummer. Baiting the hive with a few drops of lemongrass oil will improve your chances of attracting a swarm.
The actual process of harvesting honey is simple: Take one comb at a time, cut it from the bar and replace the bar for the bees to build more comb. Take only a few bars of honey in summer, leaving a surplus for winter. Then harvest more the following spring after winter is over.
If you want at least some honey in liquid form, toss the comb into a stainless steel bucket, thoroughly mash it with a paddle, and strain it through muslin. But you probably won’t get all the honey out of the wax. To clean the wax, put it near a hive for the bees to reclaim any remaining honey. After they’ve cleaned it up, you can use the wax for candles or other projects.
— This article is an excerpt from The Barefoot Beekeeper by Phil Chandler