I have 2 Garden hives ordered from Brushy Mountain. And I love them! I also have a 10 frame standard from Western Bee and 2 8 frame mediums from Miller.
It was really convenient when the Garden hives were delivered! Basically everything was ready for bees. They are unpainted but you can use them straight out of the box if you want. The only thing I had to do was pop the wax foundation into the frames, no nailing because they are groove top not wedge (no hooks) I ended up using mine unpainted because I ordered a special stain for them and the bees arrived before the paint.
They are prettier than my other hives. Not just the tops but the supers too. They are rabbited not box cut.
The tops have both pros and cons. Yeah I suppose they are not as practical. True you cant take it off, flip it, and set your supers on it. I usually just set an extra super next to the hive and set everything on that. Actually I have started doing this with all my hives whether they be flat top or peaked
Someone asked about the extra space under the roof. The inside of the top is flat, no different from a flat cover. Rather like a house with a ceiling and an attic, not cathederal ceiling style. There is no bee access to the 'attic' part, it is sealed off and I imagine will offer a little more insulation than a flat top.
The peaked tops ARE heavier than a flat telescoping top. In the recent high winds our area had ,courtesy of the tropical storms, I put cinderblocks on all my flat tops. Didn't have to worry about the peaked roofs, they all stayed on fine. But if you are not in the habit of using something heavy on top, you might find the heavyness of the coppertops tedious.
They accept other 8 frame equipment just fine! I have found my Brushy Mountain and Miller woodenware to be very compatiable.
The wood quality of the Garden Hives is very good. But then I have found most all of Brushy Mountains woodenware so far to be excellent. It is smooth milled, didnt even need to be sanded, and the cuts, be they rabbited or box cut, fit evenly.
If you are only buyin a few hives for your back yard, and you like the look, go for the copper top. It is only a difference in cost of about $16.00.
If you were to buy:
the complete 8 frame medium hive set up from BM $67.95
a hive stand (not necessary but comes in the garden kit) $10.95
wax crimp wire foundation (the flat top does not include foundation) .61 each x 16 = $9.76
Total = $88.66
Garden Hive (wax foundation) = $105.00
Difference of $16.34
And the 'regular' 8 frame hive is unassembled so you still have to assemble the supers as well as the frames.
For me the $16 was worth it just to be able to use it straight out of the box.
If your are buying alot of hives and cost is more of an issue go for the flat tops and do the assembly yourself.
Over all, I highly recommend the BM Garden Hive for someone starting out, simply because of the ease of use straight out of the box.
Oh if you really like the copper top, you can also get it by itself for either 8 or 10 frame for about $50 from both Brushy Mountain and I think it was Mann Lake. But it would be more cost effective to get it as part of the kit.