Any advice on screened bottoms and top bar hives?

Q: I enjoy the blog very much, thank you. I’m building a top bar hive (TBH) and I have a question I’ve never seen addressed. Some designs have screened bottoms, some solid. A screen strikes me as a bad idea, any advice? Thanks in advance. Steve

A: Screened bottom boards are helpful for at least two things: ventilation and mite control. However, comb construction differs in TBHs. Honeybees get to do whatever they want to do and are not guided by frames and foundation.

We talked with Jessica Steller, of Steller Apiaries, where all they keep are TBHs. They do not use screens, noting that they find TBH-kept honeybees are healthier and thus more able to combat mites and other pests. Also, that the free-form comb construction allows bees to build comb the way they think is best for airflow and handling temperature fluctuations.

Kelley’s TBHs do not have screened bottoms.

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