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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 more organically minded beekeepers are now using top-bar hives, in which the shape of the interior resembles a hollow log. Long-lasting and completely biodegradable, a top-bar hive made of untreated wood allows bees to build comb naturally rather than simply filling prefabricated foundation frames in a typical box hive with added supers.
Top-bar hives yield slightly less honey but produce more beeswax than a typical Langstroth box hive. Regular hive inspection and the removal of old combs helps to keep bees healthier and naturally disease-free. Top-Bar Beekeeping provides complete information on hive management and other aspects of using these innovative hives. All home and hobbyist beekeepers who have the time and interest in keeping bees should consider the natural, low-stress methods outlined in this book. It will also appeal to home orchardists, gardeners, and permaculture practitioners who look to bees for pollination as well as honey or beeswax.
Les Crowder is the coauthor of Top-Bar Beekeeping. He 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. Les has three wonderful children: Emily, Peter, and Ben. He is currently married to Heather Harrell, and they work their bees and certified organic/biodynamic farm together, where they raise sheep and poultry as well as honeybees.
Heather Harrell is the coauthor of Top-Bar Beekeeping. She moved to New Mexico in 1996 from her home state of Vermont to pursue her masters degree in Eastern Classics, having long had an interest in the art of meditation and yoga and a yearning to pursue a career in academia. Her love of nature soon had her pursuing a life as an organic farmer, focusing on flowers, then medicinal herbs. Over time, and through her work with honeybees, she has moved her focus to the study of multiuse permaculture plantings, which support a diverse network of interrelationships in the natural world. Along with a wide variety of vegetables, she grows medicinal herbs, which offer nectar and pollen to pollinator species. She is very interested in how soil biology is affected by using biodynamic methods of planting, and is currently studying compost teas incorporating various types of manures and plant materials.Heather has a wonderful daughter named Hannah who helps out on the farm by bringing light and love into the garden.