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Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health Paperback – August 31, 2012
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"Farmers who seek a guide to hive maintenance told through a thoughtful personal narrative will benefit from the discussion of this topbar style of beekeeping. The first-person style of the book allows a window into the practices of the topbar beekeeper while conveying a wealth of knowledge and a well-researched comparison of hive practices. The book is appropriate for beginning beekeepers as well as those experienced but looking for information on natural and organic beekeeping practices. The book’s ten sections discuss optimal practices of an organic beekeeper juxtaposed with discussion of industry standard practices and their drawbacks. Each section contains stories of the authors’ successes and failures as well as diagrams and pictures to explain everything from hive design to plant species for optimal pollination. Whether the reader is looking to start their own hive or simply increase their knowledge of honeybees, the book provides interesting and detailed discussions of all aspects of raising them. Crowder and Harrell offer not only advice on how to get started, but an in-depth discussion of all aspects of keeping a hive, from bee capture, breeding, and selection to honey processing. They have crafted a book that is both informative and engaging, filled with introspective advice and practical knowledge."
"Cave drawings show beekeepers “smoking” their hives, preparing for insect interaction. Today’s mass-produced honey relies mostly on the venerable Langstroth method of beekeeping, which has produced plenty of honey―but also has introduced plenty of chemicals into the process―through the years. Top-bar hives, named for the bars that run across their tops, are popular with bee beginners even though they produce less honey than Langstroth hives. But this account, the culmination of Crowder and Harrell’s 40 years of top-bar beekeeping adventures, shows the reader their method’s advantages: it avoids antibiotics, miticides, and other chemicals inherent to the conventional process. Crowder and his wife, Harrell, leave no comb unharvested as they take the top-bar aspirant from bee basics (stings, smoke, and hive transfers) through hive management (comb removal and feeding) to beneficial, and profitable, byproducts like beeswax. For those a bit lukewarm to the swarm, the book gives a fascinating insight into bees’ elaborate organizational and geometry skills, and it may even make one reconsider buying mass-marketed, chemical-laced honey."
"Reading Top-Bar Beekeeping reminds me of the classes I took with Les Crowder several years ago. He's a man who truly knows whereof he speaks, who has the gift of communicating with his small friends, the bees, and sharing his understanding with us. . . . This is the one book on beekeeping that I will recommend to my permaculture students."--Scott Pittman, Director, Permaculture Institute USA
"This is an excellent guide for hobby beekeepers who wish to keep bees using top-bar hives. Drawing on his more than 30 years of beekeeping experience in New Mexico, author Les Crowder describes in detail the special comb management techniques that this low-cost, but relatively intensive, form of beekeeping requires. Top-Bar Beekeeping also provides an eloquent appeal for beekeepers to make care, respect, and reverence the foundation of their relationships with the bees."--Thomas D. Seeley, Cornell University; author of Honeybee Democracy and The Wisdom of the Hive
"This book presents practical advice, gained from first-hand experience, on the organic management of top bar hives. This book will serve as an excellent guide to the ever-growing number of beekeepers that utilizes less intrusive management schemes such as top bar hives. Thanks to Les and Heather for their efforts to provide sound advice on natural ways to keep bees."--Dr. Jeff Pettis, USDA-ARS
About the Author
Les Crowder has devoted his entire adult life to the study and care of honeybees. Dedicated to finding organic and natural solutions for problems commonly treated with chemicals, he designed his own top-bar hives and set about discovering how to treat disease and genetic weaknesses through plant medicine and selective breeding. He has been a leader in his community, having served as New Mexico's honeybee inspector and president of the New Mexico Beekeepers Association. He is an avid storyteller and has spoken annually at the NM Organic Farm Conference for over fifteen years. Les is also a certified teacher and enjoys teaching children Spanish and science.
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When I heard Les and Heather were writing a book, I never pre-ordered one so quickly on Amazon. As a TB beek, there are few experts that have the knowledge like this duo. And I'm thrilled to say that this book delivered.
I've used Les's hive design and build them for about $20 each in my shop each winter. The plans are in the book and are easy to make. I am most excited to finally have an explanation on how to manipulate the topbars throughout the seasons. Up to now, despite a small collection of books on TB beekeeping, I was winging it. But now I have a detailed and strong set of images to explain hive maintenance.
The book covers a large selection of topic and makes a compelling argument on how TB methods are less stressful on the bees and more in tune with a natural feral hive. .
Heather is an excellent writer that is the perfect compliment to Les's experience. There are a lot of photos too to help you.
If you are contemplating top bar beekeeping, this is the best book out there. You too can be part of beekeeping that is both affordable and natural. Thanks to Les's encouragement I have a batch of honey waiting to be bottled in my Pennsylvania kitchen. The joy I've had building my hives from scratch, learning not to be afraid of placing myself in the midst of 30,000 stingers, and now eating the fruits of the hive are --- oh so enjoyable.
I found this a very good read - informative, to the point and with a lot of practical information, but I'll admit that I'm not an absolute newbee anymore and this might not be the right choice for someone who wants a walk through on how to build a tbh and get through the first year.
All well-written and very comprehensible. Thorough and useful index. Pictures are just what's needed to clarify and illustrate the text. Nicely done!
Second book I've read on the subject (The Bee-friendly Beekeeper is the other ***).