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Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  278 ratings  ·  34 reviews
In recent years beekeepers have had to face tremendous challenges, from pests such as varroa and tracheal mites and from the mysterious but even more devastating phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Yet in backyards and on rooftops all over the world, bees are being raised successfully, even without antibiotics, miticides, or other chemical inputs.More and m ...more
Paperback, 175 pages
Published August 31st 2012 by Chelsea Green Publishing Company
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Average rating 4.40  · 
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 ·  278 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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Apr 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wish-list
Things I appreciated about this book:
- Its length. The other bee books I've gotten are like college textbooks. Which, is great, but also...long?
- Its range. While it may be short, I felt like it not only covered most of the basics, but also a lot of stuff that was way over my head at this point, and would be helpful later on. (Mostly stuff about splitting hives and raising queens.) Even though I read the entirety of it, I want to get a copy to have on hand.
- Its tone. It was very informational,
Apr 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-hardcopy, skills
Finally! A beekeeping book that feels right. After doing tons of research and reading books on the traditional Langstroth chemical-heavy beekeeping methods, I just didn't feel good about my new hobby. I am an organic gardener and constantly applying chemicals to these wonderful creatures' habitat and using plastic foundations and high-fructose corn syrup and all these methods to control the bees just didn't seem natural or healthy to me. But as a beginner, I don't feel like I have enough knowled ...more
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's incredible how much useful information can fit into just 150 pages, complete with closeup color photos that leave no doubts about what the author is describing. Combs, brood, larvae, workers, drones, queens, top bar arrangements... I have a clear idea of how each of these look and how they interact with one another.

Les has over 30 years years in beekeeping, and it shows. This is the 4th book I've read on natural beekeeping and is the one I found the most useful for starting up my own top ba
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I agree with one of the other reviewers that this book is a 5 star for practicing beekeepers and a 3 star for brand-new ones. I tried to use it when installing a hive for the first time this spring and found it pretty unhelpful (and I'm in the second year of a Certified Beekeeper course). That being said, the writing style is extremely accessible and the information is highly useful...once you've practiced beekeeping a little bit. ...more
Donald Stockley
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
What started as just wanted to understand top bar beekeeping, I learned some things with regards to integrated pest management that can be used in any style of hive. Wanting to be more organic in our apiary, understanding the need for local genetics is important. This book has me excited to give queen rearing a shot next spring and hopeful for some success in that area as our backyard apiary grows.

Karel Baresh
Dec 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An essential guide to understanding the physiology and psychology of a beehive. Although written for the "top-bar" hive enthusiasts, the information contained here applies to Langstroth hive as well. Les Crowder is a present-day beekeeper with much sensibility to the environment. You can follow him on FB. ...more
Joseph Schoolland
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: shortcuts
I enjoyed this. Great book if you're thinking about top bar beekeeping. Les's worldview is different than mine, but I appreciate the idea of breeding bees for strong genetics rather than relying on a regular use of treatments. I found this video as a great companion: ...more
Dan Ditzler
Apr 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Great book to inspire and educate people on becoming top bar beekeepers. Good plans to build a hive make sure to use v shaped cleats one thing essential to prevent cross combing ! Felt like he could have emphasized that more
Lots of good material here check it out
Kate Seader
A great introduction to both top bar beekeeping and beekeeping in general.
Lots of good information that the author has tested out themselves. The diagrams that show how combs are arranged strategically in hives are helpful and easy to understand.
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Informative and helpful, quick read with care for the bees at the forefront of the book.
Shannon Boardman
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Easy to read, practical information. Can’t wait until I can start my hives.
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
sounds amazing
buzzes with enthusiasm
practical details and diagrams
Mar 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Great information. Can't wait to get our hive going soon! ...more
Kayla Marie
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The best book I've read on the subject. In my area top bar keeping isn't popular, so I'm dependent on books & the Internet for help. That being said, I honestly wish more information about overwintering bees was included... it seems as if the majority of his experience is in NM, but I'm in WI with harsh winters/windchill. All the beekeepers I've spoken to in the area point to the weather as the reason to NOT use this type of hive... I'm neglecting their wisdom and conducting some expensive exper ...more
Feb 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, bees
This book is a wonderful guide to top-bar beekeeping. There are few books that are specific to this way of beekeeping and this is an essential addition to the top-bar beekeepers library.

The authors add their own insight on best practices for natural hive management without chemical interventions. Chapters cover the beekeeping basics of bee biology and hive management, but what sets this book apart from other natural beekeeping guides are the illustrations of top-bar hive management. These usefu
Tammie Painter
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'd give this book 5 stars for someone who already keeps bees in a top bar hive, but 3 stars for someone (like me) wanting to start a top bar hive. There appears to be great info on disease prevention and overall organic care of bees, but I found the information on starting a hive and hive management to be a bit over the head for someone who hasn't kept bees before. I was hoping this book would be a really handy guide to get me started with my top bar hive (which you can see on my website Tammie ...more
Scott Knight
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite beekeeping book I have read to date. It is simply fantastic! I am in my first year of beekeeping as a hobbyist. I have listened to and read huge amounts of material and did not want to start down a path of treating my bees as a commercial crop that can be replaced at my whim. This book is very focused on natural, chemical-free beekeeping in a way that is good for the bees and only slightly less convenient for the beekeeper. It has a wealth of information for top-bar beekeepin ...more
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Clearly written and informative. I do think this book scared me a little regarding the reality of being a beekeeper. I'll keep reading up on honeybees for a while more. ...more
May 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
As I'm just getting in to top-bar beekeeping I was looking for an introduction to the practices and found this at the library. It has great photography and plenty of descriptions of how to build, manage, and maintain a TBH. Some things were quite a bit more advanced (i.e., raising multiple queens through grafting), but it was good to read an overview. I feel more confident as I go on as a beginning beekeeper after reading this book.

ETA: Reread this again recently - got much more out of it this t
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I learned so much about bees. The author's enthusiasm made it interesting. I did not pick up this book intending to start a hive, and now that I know how much work is involved (and how much can go wrong) I definitely don't plan on it. I felt like it gave me a feel for beekeeping and I understand bees better now. If you are planning on starting hives this book will not be enough. You will probably need to take a few courses because at times this is too abstract. It is more of a ...more
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic intro to top-bar beekeeping, and refreshingly different from most beekeeping books that I've looked at. The main focus of this book is the proper management of a top-bar hive for healthy bees, with honey and wax being excellent benefits but not the main focus of the venture. The authors speak with long-term experience, over 30 years, and have dealt personally (and without chemicals) with many of the 'scourges' of beekeeping like foulbrood and varroa mites. It's quite obvious that the ...more
Jun 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I didn't plan to "read" this book. I thought I'd just skip around, pick up a few tidbits, learn what the difference was between the different types of beehives. But, I read it cover to cover. Of course, the book is first and foremost a how-to on beekeeping, but it also tells, in a very approachable and engaging style, why organic beekeeping is important, how those of us who don't keep bees can still support bees and beekeepers (and not just by buying their products), and about how bees live. Inc ...more
Apr 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a really nice overview of top-bar beekeeping and organic hive management. As a brand new beekeeper, I'd have liked some more details (as in, let's just really lay it out step by step and leave no bit/advice unmentioned), but I suspect that wasn't the author's intent. I should probably follow his advice and find a local beekeeper to observe, but being an introvert who prefers learning from books. . . we'll see. ...more
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was an excellent guide for organic beekeeping practices and has provided me with a wealth of information about Top-Bar style beekeeping and beekeeping in general. While some of the information was slightly over my head as a beginning beekeeper, I know I will come back to this book many times for suggestions over the years that we keep bees.
Sep 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Author cares about bees and the planet. NO chemicals or antibiotics required.
Jeff Attaway
Aug 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: knowledge, favorites
The hive management bar diagrams illustrated on pages 49 through 59 are priceless to a new TBH keeper.
Dec 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: animals
So far the most truly usable bee book I have found.
Emily Boerner
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Way more educational than almost anything I have read on this topic. Hands on too.
Margaret Schlachter
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As someone getting into beekeeping this book was fantastic, approachable and full of useful practical knowledge. He is a top bar guru!
Mar 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Its a really broad book, not enough focus on basics for the beginner. I guess I wasn't the target audience. ...more
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