Recommended Websites, Books, and Films

Relatively little has been published about top bar beekeeping and organic approaches to beekeeping. This lack of information in the form of books and other printed resources is especially frustrating for beginning top bar beekeepers, who need help, advice, and instruction in getting started. Far more has been published about beekeeping with vertical Langstroth hives. When I first made the switch from Langstroth hives to top bar hives circa 1993, I could find very little in print about top bar hives, and nothing about how to work with bees in top bar hives. Fortunately I had local New Mexico top bar beekeepers like Marty Hardison and Les Crowder to turn to for advice, guidance, and moral support. In fact, Marty sold me my first “Kenya” top bar hive. As I recall, he charged me five dollars!

Today we have a lot of good and useful information about top bar beekeeping and about honeybees in general to draw upon. In 2012, Les Crowder and Heather Harrell published a how-to book about organic practices top bar beekeeping called Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health (White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing). I highly recommend it, especially for experienced top bar beekeepers but also for absolute beginners. This book fills a void; many top bar beekeepers have been waiting years to see this kind of information in print.

You can also find all sorts of excellent information about honeybees and top bar beekeeping on the Internet, but be careful about where you look for information and how you judge the quality and usefulness of what you find. For now, the most information about honeybees in general and about top bar and other “natural” or “organic” approaches to beekeeping is probably found on-line. I hope that this website will be one of those on-line locations where you can find useful and accurate information about top bar beekeeping and about honeybees in general. Below is a collection of several different websites that I have organized into thematic clusters. Also included is a list of several books, videos, and films that I have found enjoyable and useful through the years. I have included only those resources that I have actually read and studied. Happy reading!


Biodynamic Beekeeping

Biodynamic beekeeper Gunther Hauk’s honeybee sanctuary in Virginia.

An excellent documentary about restoration beekeeping as a response to colony collapse disorder, or CCD.


Queen and Package Bee Suppliers

Located in Navasota, Texas, BeeWeaver is a supplier of queen bees and package bees, with a focus upon gentle, varroa mite-resistant stock, with Buckfast origins. Many of the packages and queens I have ordered through the years have come from this southeast Texas supplier.

Located in Truchas, New Mexico, another source for queen bees and packages, especially for high altitude Southwestern beekeepers.


Top Bar Hives and Tools

The creator of the “Golden Mean” top bar hive and of other simple, useful beekeeping tools, from top bars themselves to specially designed hive tools for top bar hives.

An excellent Sedona-based company that specializes in making high quality wooden tools, including top bar hives. Several of the roofs on my hives were custom-made by House Mountain.

I’ve not yet tried this company’s top bar hives yet, but they look great and are made from cedar, an excellent material for unpainted hives.


Other Excellent Websites

An innovative honeybee sanctuary located in California’s Russian River Valley.

A website created by biodynamic beekeeper Michael Thiele.

A hard-hitting documentary about the roots of colony collapse disorder. These roots are found within the ills of the industrial food system, beginning with monoculture.

New Mexico beekeeper Les Crowder’s website.


Recommended Books

Adams, John F. Beekeeping: The Gentle Craft. New York: Avon, 1972.

Benjamin, Allison, and Brian McCullum. A World Without Bees. New York: Pegasus Books, 2009.

Buchmann, Stephen, with Banning Repplier. Letters from the Hive: An Intimate History of Bees, Honey, and Humankind. New York: Bantam, 2005.

Bush, Michael. The Practical Beekeeper: Beekeeping Naturally (Volume I, II, and III). X-Star Publishing Company, 2011.

Buxton, Simon. The Shamanic Way of the Bee: Ancient Wisdom and Healing Practices of the Bee Masters. Rochester, Vermont: Destiny Books, 2004.

Chandler, P.J. The Barefoot Beekeeper: Low Cost, Low Impact, Natural Beekeeping for Everyone. No Place or Publisher Shown: March 2010, Third Edition, Minor Revisions.

Conrad, Russ. Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2007.

Hauk, Gunther. Toward Saving the Honeybee. San Francisco: Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association, 2002.

Jacobsen, Rowan. Fruitless Fall:  The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis. New York: Bloomsbury, 2008.

Jaycox, Elbert R. Beekeeping in the Midwest. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1976. (Slightly Revised in 1981).

Kritsky, Gene. The Quest for the Perfect Hive. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Lazutin, Fedor. Keeping Bees with a Smile: A Vision and Practice of Natural Apiculture.  Ithaca, New York: Deep Snow Press, 2013.

No author or editor listed. The Beekeeper’s Bible. New York: Stewart, Tabori, and Chang. No date of publication.

Nordhaus, Hannah. The Beekeeper’s Lament. New York: Harper Perennial, 2010.

Marchese, C. Marina, and Kim Flottum. The Honey Connoisseur: Selecting, Tasting, and Pairing Honey, With a Guide to More than 30 Varietals. New York: Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers, 2013.

Schacker, Michael. A Spring Without Bees: How Colony Collapse Disorder Has Endangered Our Food Supply. Guilford, Connecticut: The Lyons Press, 2008.

Seeley, Thomas D.  Honeybee Democracy. Princeton, New Jersey:  Princeton University Press, 2010.

Steiner, Rudolf. Translated by Thomas Braatz. Bees: Lectures by Rudolf Steiner. Hudson, New York: Anthroposophic Press, 1998.

Tautz, Jurgen. The Buzz about Bees: Biology of a Superorganism. Germany: Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, 2009. (Corrected Second Printing).

Tompkins, Enoch, and Roger M. Griffith. Garden Way’s Practical Beekeeping. Charlotte, Vermont: Garden Way Publishing, 1977.

Winston, Mark L. The Biology of the Honey Bee. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1991.

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