In response to "Urbis Agricola":
I can feel your pain and confusion. We are first year beekeepers and started researching this time last year and I built the hive myself from scratch this past spring. But you have to make a decision. The top bar and Langstroth are very different and we went with the one we really wanted in the first place. Maybe later we may do a Langstroth just for fun as a comparision. But for now, we've chosen the top bar even though people in our club think we're crazy telling us that top bars are too hard in Colorado.
We read a ton online and also books and videos through interlibrary loan. And you're right, many books and dvds are sorely lacking of all the necessary details. So we have quite a collection of pretty useless books and dvds here at home.
But fear not. We found two fabulous resources that we purchased and watched and read over and over and keep handy.
1. DVD entitled "Back Yard Hive, Alternative Beekeeping Using the Top Bar Hive and The Bee Guardian Methods" It is really great and you can watch it all and then watch parts of it over and over as you learn more. You'll not regret getting this one.
Their website is www.BackYardHive.com
2. book entitled "The Barefoot Beekeeper" by Phil Chandler. He is the "wise man" of top bar hives. He even has the plans for free online for building a top bar hive. I downloaded them and with basic skills, you can make your own at home and save a ton of money. I used his basic plans, but I painted mine similar to an image I saw online cause I wanted mine to be cute in my backyard.
His website is www.biobees.com
We got our bees in early May and all was going great until we had a massive wildfire that swept through our neighborhood at the end of June. Our home was spared, but we were evacuated for over a week and while gone, the bees took all the honey they had made and left due to the smothering smoke. But we plan to start again next Spring.
If you ever have any questions, feel free to contact me. I'll answer as honestly as I can. You know, we don't know it all - yet!
Colorado Springs, CO
P.S. Where are you located?