I thought some of you might enjoy something a little different.... Here's a glass hive that I built and set up last spring (you'll see the pics when an admin appends them). I used 3/8" glass for the walls, a screened bottom, 1/4 acrylic top bars, and a total of eight 3/4" couplers for the entrance/exit pipes. The inside dimensions match my other wooden hives so I can swap bars around. The top bars were a little weaker than I anticipated, I thought they’d bow under the weight of a full comb, so I glued on a small rib to stiffen them. The wood frame/support took a lot of time to build but I enjoyed woodworking.. and the fact that I was designing something I've never seen before. I could have simplified the frame but I wanted to protect all of the edges because there's lots of children running around my house. I've posted a few vids on youtube and you can find them by searching "observation top bar hive."
These pictures are within a few weeks of installing a chopped medium lang nuc but now it's nearly full. You can see the lang bars with the 1/8" spacers (the spacers close up the langs bee space). My long haired son is the only one small enough to climb in behind the entertainment center to enjoy all four sides. To my surprise he has found the queen crawling around the combs. A couple of things I enjoy most is watching them build comb, filling the cells, and the dances visible on the first bar. I'm noticing the attachments seem very similar to my wooden hives (not shown but maybe I'll post a few more pics later).
I had anticipated working the hive by sliding the entire works out the window but my nuc came before I had that ready. So, while installing the nuc, i simply taped up some thin plastic (cheap drop cloth), from floor to ceiling, and opened the windows. Most of the bees find their way back into the hive and then I simply vacuum up the rest.
I'll admit that I'm a little concerned about over wintering. I understand that if they're too warm they'll mill around, eat all of their stores and not make it thought he winter. In order to drop the temp I've added a temporary vent to allow outside air to circulate around the back end and non-viewing side. So far this winter has been pretty mild. The bees are flying today and I was happy to see lots of pollen coming in within the last couple of weeks.
My kids want a more traditional observation hive that allows viewing of the comb face of the top bars. I have an idea about some hybrid lang/top bar bars, to allow bee space, but it's only an idea so far.