So good to have you here Gary. John's off on a vacation in his RV, but when he gets home and checks in on the forum, I'm sure he'll really enjoy writing to you.
I experimented a little with top bars, and found it was a wonderful alternative. My top bars were very crude though, and a little difficult to keep spaced right. I just recently took out the last of my top bars and harvested the honey from them. In their place I put medium foundationless frames. One of my hives is designed with some of the concepts of the top bar hives. It has one long hive for the brood that holds I think 24 frames. The foundation runs parallel to the entrance, and I can add two regular sized hive boxes on top of it from front to back. I've seen that the queen likes to build the brood mostly from the front, so I take advantage of that by adding boxes to the front when I want more brood. I let her fill up as far back in the long brood box as she will, then put the box on the front, also taking advantage of the fact that the queen likes to go up in building brood. After the queen has filled the equivalent of three brood boxes of bees, I add honey supers to the back. It's my largest and fastest growing hive. A large hive can be very tricky though.
Once again..... good to have you here.