September 27, 2017 2 min read

Specially designed top bars by Corwin Bell that improve the bees efficiency, health, ability to self ventilate the nest and improves overwintering, by providing passages for the bees to efficiently migrate through the honey stores.

Our Cathedral Hive® "Passage Bar" design is now available for the Golden Mean and Original BackYardHives. Integrated top bar feature we call the "Super Highway".


Hexagonal top bar Passage Holes...we call “The Super Highway”

This design feature is amazing for the bees in several ways. It came from students questioning me about why some bees create holes on the comb right in the center just below the bar. For a long time my answer was simply “I don't know”. Now after a lot of observation and a few experiments, I do know !

This behavior seems to be mainly present in the feral bee colonies with intact survivor genetic behaviors. I noticed that these holes in the comb were very intentional. When I incorporated them into the top bars, all of the bee colonies used these holes in the bars. You can see from the picture above, that the bees not only kept the holes clear, they have made connective wax tunnels from bar to bar.


A bee crawling through the "passage hole" in our top bars

  • The bees will use these passages to travel efficiently through the hive when returning from gathering nectar and pollen.
  • The colony uses these passages to move air, especially during the hot summer when the air becomes still and rises to the top of the hive.
  • During the winter the bees use these passages to migrate to their honey stores, enabling them to move through the passages and stay
    within the warmest part of the hive.


Our specially machined "Passage Bars" available for both the Golden Mean and Original BackYardHive come with four holes accurately aligned to proving the bees with tunnels through which the bees can travel. Our Cathedral Hive® bars also are hexagon shape Passage Bars


Looking through the passage holes of consecutive top bars that form a tunnel.



Ventilation in the top bars

The top bar passages allow for efficient movement throughout the hive. The four holes in the top bars enable the bees to travel along the top of the hive to deliver collected nectar and pollen efficiently.

This creates an alternative pathway through the hive essentially half of the bees to move through the top of the hive, avoiding the already very crowded floor space.

We studied the bees movement through the hive by creating tiny plexiglass windows above the passages in the top bars and observing the bees movement.