A topbar beehive is a hive which has removable combs attached to wooden bars which rest across the top of the hive space.
Today's topbar hives, sometimes called Kenyan topbar hives descend from the traditional hives found in use by certain indigenous peoples of Kenya. Unlike other traditional hives such as the European skep the central African bark hive or the Ethiopian clay hive, the hives traditionally in use by some Kenyan tribes were topped with a series of small sticks and covered by a banana leaf, piece of bark or thatch. This had the unique advantage of making the combs at least partly removable, not in the one-comb-to-one-stick way that modern topbar hives are constructed, but in an arrangement of several sticks to one comb.
When this was observed by colonial soldiers who has experience with the modern Langstroth hive, the idea for the modern topbar was born.
Honey production may be reduced Less standardized equipment available Less adapted to needs of migratory and large-scale beekeepers