How To Get Started Raising Honey Bees In Top Bar Beehives For Food, Profit, Survival & Doomsday Preppers




Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health Paperback

Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health Paperback



Natural beekeeping in Top Bar hives is an amazingly simple, economical, and environmentally friendly approach to raising honeybees.  Because Top Bar hives are easier to construct and maintain than other beehives, they are the perfect for beginners, preppers and survivalists.  Furthermore, honey is one of the best survival foods and it also has medicinal and wound care properties, so having a natural source to produce honey is an extremely valuable survival prep.  

Why get into Top Bar Beekeeping?

Providing a habitat for bees, pollinating your garden and producing honey for your family are a few of the compelling reasons for taking up backyard beekeeping.  Whether you are a beekeeper raising bees for honey or raising honeybees for profit, you'll want to consider the latest natural methods in hive management. Top Bar beehives produce plenty of honey and beeswax and are chemical and stress free on the bees making it easier to maintain a healthier honey bee colony and to avoid diseases, mites, and colony collapse disorder.  

Honey as a Food:

  • Honey is one food that never spoils! Although the look of honey will change somewhat over time, it will never actually spoil. To return the honey to its original gooey state, simply put the container into a bowl of hot tap water or put the honey into a microwave safe bowl and microwave it for about 15 - 20 seconds. With either method, it will magically return to its golden liquid state! 
  • Honey is Nature's Energy Booster!  The benefits of honey go beyond its great taste. A great natural source of carbohydrates which provide strength and energy to our bodies, honey is known for its effectiveness in instantly boosting the performance, endurance and reduce muscle fatigue of athletes. Its natural sugars play an important role in preventing fatigue during exercise. 

For its Medicinal Properties, Honey is Known to Have the Following Qualities:

  • Immunity System Builder Among the many health benefits of honey, it is most impressive that honey can be a powerful immune system booster. It's antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties can help improve digestive system and help you stay healthy and fight disease.
  • Anti-Cancer Properties - Honey possesses carcinogen-preventing and anti-tumor properties! There are now more and more studies pointing to the potential role of honey in the prevention and the progression of tumor and cancer.
  • Remedy for Ailments
    • Cuts and BurnsFor thousands of years, honey has been recognized as one of the most natural home remedies to treat a wide range of ailments and complaints including yeast infection, athlete foot, and arthritis pain. Its antiseptic properties inhibits the growth of certain bacteria and helps keep external wounds clean and free from infection. Honey has been used as a natural cure for survival in first aid treatment for wounds, burns and cuts as it is able to absorb moisture from the air and promote healing. Its antibacterial properties prevent infection and functions as an anti-inflammatory agent, reducing both swelling and pain, and even scarring. It is widely believed that UMF Manuka is the preferred honey for wound dressing due to its strong antibacterial property.
    • HangoversWhen you get a hangover from drinking too much alcohol, combat its effects by applying honey remedy. Honey is gentle on the stomach and contains a mix of natural sugars such fructose which is known to speed up the oxidation of alcohol by the liver, acting as a 'sobering' agent. Follow this recipe: 15ml of liquid honey with 80ml of orange juice and 70ml of natural yogurt. Blend them together until smooth.
    • Sore Throats One of the better known health benefits of honey is that it is able to help treat sore throats. Take a spoonful of honey to soothe the inflammation or gargle with a mixture of two tablespoons of honey, four tablespoons of lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
    • Sleeplessness Unable to sleep? Use the famous Milk and Honey Remedy. Take a glass of hot milk with a teaspoon of honey to calm the soul and induce sleep. Or, add 1 or 2 teaspoons of honey to a cup of chamomile tea and sip. 

Beeswax has many uses:


Why Top Bar Hives?

Top bar hives are easier for beekeepers to build and maintain compared to other beehive types, and they are better habitats for the bees making for a more stress-free, disease-free environment.  A Top bar beehive can be free of pesticides and other chemicals.  The result is a higher success rate for beginner beekeeper plus healthier bees.  Top bar hives can be located anywhere bees have access to forage, and they are ideally suited to the urban environment. Understanding bees’ natural systems, as opposed to trying to subvert them, Top Bar hives feature:
  • Simplicity, sustainability and cost-effectiveness
  • Increased safety due to less heavy lifting and hive manipulation 
  • Chemical-free colonies and healthy hives.
Whether you are into beekeeping for profit or solely for the honey, Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health shows you how to get started and everything you need to know raising honey bees using simple to construct or buy Top Bar beehives. Scroll down for reviews, videos, recommended beekeeping tools, and other recommended resources.

Bees Building Combs Inside Top Bar Hive

Bees Building Combs Inside Top Bar Beehive


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 topbar 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 backyard and hobbyist beekeepers and doomsday preppers who have the time and interest in keeping bees intensively 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.


Removing a bar from a Top Bar beehive

Removing a bar from a Top Bar beehive


Recommended Beekeeping Tools



Top Bar Hive Made From Barrel

Top Bar Hive Made From Barrel


Editorial Reviews

"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."--Publisher's Weekly

"...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."--ForeWord Reviews

"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

A Simple Homemade Top Bar Hive With Viewing Window

A Simple Homemade Top Bar Hive With Viewing Window

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.

Heather Harrell 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 multi-use 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.

Nice Top Bar Hive With Hinged Roof

Nice Top Bar Hive With Hinged Roof

Selected Amazon Feedback

"The Top Bar reference I've been waiting for arrived!!!...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've been a Backyard Bee Guardian using organic and ecological practices for 15 years and mentoring others to support this amazing mediterranean honeybee in their backyard havens for over 10 years! This book is ESSENTIAL for success in Top Bar Bee Guardianship for new and experienced TOP Bar enthusiasts and will aid my teaching and mentoring greatly. And... by reading this book before you choose whether to do Top Bars or Langstroths may help you decide that Top Bar Hives are the right choice for Homesteaders and Backyarders!...

...This book is well organized, knowledge heavy and is the first to clearly articulate methods for rotating blackened brood comb out and supporting the reduction of the colony to the winter ball to the best placement in the Top Bar Hive. The authors are writing from experience and have great photos through out the book and explain clearly, seasonal skillsets for Top Bar Success as well as how to raise your own queens.

Top Bar Hives are gaining a lot of popularity for Homestead and Backyard Honey Bee Guardians - no heavy 50-60 lb supers to lift, less chance of bee stings, the best designs include windows for observation, they get easier and easier with more experience, and from a design standpoint are more in alignment with a BEE CENTRIC model of connecting with Nature in a way that nurtures us and heals our sense of separation from Nature and listens to what Nature wants rather than imposes our presumptions on it.

Do not start Top Bar Beekeeping or Beekeeping at all without having this book in your Bee Guardianship tool kit, your night table, in your backpack, on your favorite reading chair. Its essential for your success in SERVING the BEES and Nature!"

"I've just about finished building a Top Bar Hive (my first hive of any kind) and have been researching beekeeping fairly extensively to prepare to keep bees this coming spring. I've purchased 4, and read 3 1/2 books on beekeeping (The Thinking Beekeeper: A Guide to Natural Beekeeping in Top Bar Hives; Beekeeping For Dummies; The Beekeeper's Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses) including this one. I'm still working my way through the Beekeeper's Bible, which covers everything (and probably more) that anyone would want to know about bees and beekeeping (citing, for example, information dating back to before the time of Christ), but surprisingly only mentions top bar hives once or twice.  IF you are interested in keeping a top bar hive, this is the book I would recommend above all others. It covers general beekeeping information well, and gives very practical advice specific to top bar hives. For instance, no other book I've read (or internet source I've come across so far) covers the various reasons and methods for re-arranging the bars of comb so thoroughly. This book also includes a number of illustrations to accompany the explanations of bar rotation. It also (as the title implies) spends time covering the benefits of chemical-free beekeeping, and gives organic methods of handling issues as they arise.

In my opinion, this book covers general beekeeping information and top-bar-specific methods better than than any other. In short, this book is the most thorough single source of top bar beekeeping that I have come across."

Viewing Bees Through Top Bar Hive Observation Window

Viewing Bees Through Top Bar Hive Observation Window


YouTube Videos

If you are serious about BeeKeeping watch "For the Love of Bees" from Les Crowder and Heather Harrell (the authors).  This is a long complete video that is a must see! 

Les Crowder Top Bar Beekeeping - For the Love of Bees


The following YouTube video shows the basics of Top Bar Beekeeping.

Top Bar Hive Basics


The following YouTube video provides Top Bar Beekeeping tips with Les Crowder and Heather Harrell.

Top-Bar Beekeeping with Les Crowder and Heather Harrell



The following YouTube video shows you how to make a Top Bar Beehive.

How to make a topbar beehive


The following YouTube video shows Top Bar Beekeepers installing their Bees.

Top Bar Beekeepers Installing a Bee Package!


The following YouTube video shows h
ow to catch a bee swarm in a Top Bar Hive Nucleus Box.

How to Catch a Swarm in a Top Bar Hive Nucleus Box



The following YouTube video shows how to extract honey from a Top Bar hive.

Extracting honey from a top bar hive


Other Recommended Raising Honey Bee & Beehive Construction Books

  • Building Beehives For Dummies (provides everything you need to learn how to build some of the world's most popular hives and beekeeping accessories).


Other Recommended Raising Animals For Food Books


Recommended Blog

For exceptional advice and tips by SurvivingPrepper.com on getting started with beekeeping, keep reading here.


Return to Top Survival Preps



Share This Page On Facebook!