Beekeeping is growing in popularity as gardeners, small farmers, and locavores learn more about the plight of bees in the face of industrial agriculture. After years of being babied with pesticides and fungicides, bee populations are weak and struggling, while the myriad pests that plague them have only grown stronger. Thankfully, aspiring beekeepers using selective breeding and organic methods are attempting to reverse the alarming trend of Colony Collapse Disorder.
One more tool in the sustainable beekeeper’s kit is the top-bar hive. Unlike the typical box-shaped hives that are widely used for industrial honey production, top-bar hives mimic the shape of a hollow log, and allow bees to create comb in natural shapes instead of following pre-made plastic guides. Top-bar hives produce slightly less honey than box hives, but more beeswax for use in candles and soaps.
Les Crowder and Heather Harrell are the authors of the new book Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health , a step-by-step guide to using these innovative and bee-friendly hives.
The authors are also the stars of a DVD featuring a filmed workshop, in which they discuss everything from hive management techniques to how to harvest and process honey and beeswax to the best plants to grow for the foraging bees. Now the book and DVD are available as a convenient and low-priced set.