Top Bar Barrel Bee Hive Chicken Coops!

Top Bar Barrel Bee Hive Chicken Coops

A bee hive chicken coop?! You probably think I’m joking, right?

If you recall our last post about the benefits of raising chickens, we were inspired by the idea of chicken tractors. Since we didn’t want to give up any more yard space from our gardening, we already had these wonderful top bar barrel bee hives built, and the space under the hives was about the same area as some of the chicken tractors we’d seen, that they’d make a perfect area for our own chickens.

We spent some time searching online to see if anyone had ever had problems keeping chickens and bees in close proximity. While we could not find anything in the proximity we were wanting, we did not find anything that suggested there would be a problem. We attended our local beekeeping club and talked to several people who had bees and chickens, explained our idea, and received skeptical but positive responses. With this lack of show stoppers we decided to press forward, worse case we could always sell or give away our chicks to some of our new friends from the beekeeping club!

Unlike the hives, we could not find any plans or pictures online of a top bar barrel bee hive chicken coop (TBHCC). So for this project we were completely on our own to come up with plans and execute the assembly. We looked at lots of different chicken tractor designs and full coops online to get some inspiration and decided to settle on a basic mini coop design.

Our goal was to have an area large enough for two to three hens with a single brood box for the active layer and a full length roost that all two or three hens could sit on. We also wanted to have a large opening so that we could easily clean out the coop and extract the manure to go into our compost pile and/or garden.

Assembling Frame For Coops

To start out we built out a frame around the base of the hives. The reason for this was to have a level frame, have attachment points for the main door and brood box door, and have a secure base to keep creatures that would bother the chickens out.

Adding Divider For Brood Box Support

For the brood box we wanted to have it just big enough for the chickens to lay their eggs but not too large that they would get comfortable and sleep in there. Some websites we read said a 12x12x9 (inches) area was optimal so the chickens would lay their eggs but not sit in there too long. So we divided the frame with another 1×2 piece on each side.

Flooring On Chicken Brood Box

We had some extra flooring laying around so decided to give the base of the brood box some additional covering to aid in cleaning. Just used some staples from the staple gun to attach it. If it gets too dirty and does not work out we can easily rip it out and replace it or do something else with it.

Sides Offer Additional Protection

To give the hens a little more protection from the elements we decided to put a cover on all sides of the hive/coop except for a section on the inside allow the hens to jump in and out of the box.

Lip Added To Brood Boxes

We also added a little lip on the brood boxes so that the nesting material we would add would stay in and help keep the eggs from rolling out.

Dowel Serves As A Roost

The roost we created from a dowel that we attached to the divider support and side cross piece.

Doors On Coop

We attached the doors using some basic hinges and locking eye-hooks. The doors open away from each other with both locks on the middle divider. You can see that the main door covers the entire height of the coop area so we maximize our access for maintenance.

Dogs Like The New Coops!

The last step was to staple the remaining hardware cloth to the rest of the hives. We did a final checkout with our two dogs just to make sure it was a good home that our future chickens would like :)!

What do you think about our design? I have lots more pictures so if you have any questions or would like to see more please post a comment!

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About George

Hello, I'm George. I'm an engineer by profession and am blessed with a wonderful full-time job in Northern Virginia. However, I'm also very interested in building up my non-technological skills that allow me to expand my knowledge into new areas that benefit my living today and may prove useful in the event that technology skills are no longer needed. My wife, Martha, and I started this website to share our experiences in developing and maintaining our homestead. Our goal is to strive to live every day in a way where we are continually improving ourselves through learning new skills and trades, and gaining experience. This work improves our quality of life for both the here and now, and the future, whatever it may bring. My hope is that our thoughts and experiences shared through our website will aid you in your journey and help you gain independence daily.

2 thoughts on “Top Bar Barrel Bee Hive Chicken Coops!

  1. Pingback: » Patriotic Duty To Raise Chickens! Independence Homestead

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