28 May, 2010

Urban Beekeeping Resource List

Books of Note: 

Beekeeping for Dummies, Blackiston, Howland © 2009 I have the first edition, but I see the second edition is co-authored by Kim Flottum who wrote one of the three books (below) that I feel are the basic top bar hive beekeeper library. I'll buy this and see if I like it.

The following three books comprise my Basic Urban Beekeeping Library.

Natural Beekeeping, Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture, Conrad, ross © 2007 Published by Chelsea Green, one of my favorite publishers, with a forward by Gary Paul Nabhan, one of my favorite authors, I was predisposed to love this book. It is informative and does have organic approaches to some of the challenges faced by honey bees in our times. It comprises one of the three books I suggest as the books for becoming a top bar hive, natural, organic, urban beekeeper.

The Backyard Beekeeper, Flottum, Kim © 2010 Sub-titled: An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden  I notice that this edition has added information on urban bees, and keeping bees healthy 'naturally,' which means that it isn't his main focus and he felt compelled to add it in. However, he has wonderful drawings of bee and flower anatomy – it is a very comprehensive book.

The Barefoot Beekeeper, Chandler, P.J. © 2009 At the end of the index, this note is written: Due to the vagaries of the application I used in writing this book, some of the index entries above are somewhat eccentric. But then, so am I. And that says a lot about the personal touch of this book. It is the only book in this list – in fact, the only book I know of altogether – that includes a lot of information on top bar hives. Our reading of the book suffers from it's United Kingdom origin and focus, but it is the only book with top bar instructions. It is quirky, eccentric and yet manages to inform. 

Also available is the Complete Idiots Guide to Beekeeping which I understand is authored by two members of LA's Backwards Beekeepers (see below).  I intend to order it soon, but as I have not yet read it, I can't comment on it, but it should be natural and low impact and, if it is 'as-advertised,' it will be the fourth book added to my library.

Web Resources  

The Everything Guide to Urban Bees is an online series of articles from the New York Times Magazine.  Some lovely reading here, even if it about a world that has seasons different from our own.  And sensibilities different from ours.  

The Backyard Hive is a source of data on top bar hives and sells some very well made equipment.  Very accessible and very clear.  I owe a lot to their well written articles.  

The Barefoot Beekeeper (his book of the same name is listed above) has this site that expands on his book and offers more up to date information and photos.  

The Backwards Beekeepers blog site is their central clearing house of information; they also have a Yahoo Group.  I belong to this Los Angeles group and Kirk Anderson (their 'yoda') gave me my first swarm of bees.  They maintain a bee removal hotline and post all requests for bee removal through the Yahoo group - first one to say "I'll do that one" gets the bees.  All natural, low impact, urban beekeeping, but they use the older Langstroth hives.  My post on getting my swarm from Kirk shows up in their blog. 

I'll be posting my bee experiences on my blog at LAGardenBlog.com - where you can also read this with all the URLS embedded so you can find all the information.  

Little Homestead in the City blog (a product of Path to Freedom in Pasadena) posts often on their beekeeping experience.  They are strictly Langstroth hives.

Coming out of Georgia, Linda's Bees is Linda T's blog of beekeeping experiences.  She is a Langstroth hive woman who is currently in her first year of experimenting with a top bar hive - her experience with bees combined with her surprises she gets with the top bar hives makes this really good reading.

Humorous on occasion, then informative on others, Canaries in a Coal Mine  posts on beekeeping as well.  

An informative blog (that links to my site, thanks, Sam!), Bee Crazy is all about top bar hives and the use of solar heat for melting wax and stuff like that.  Here you can find hive plans and more from Sam Smith in Ontario Canada.  

Products and articles (in fact some of the articles that have set the organic low impact beekeeping movement in motion) can be found at Bee Source.  They have ads from companies that sell top bars and other bee equipment.  

Where To Buy Equipment  

In addition to those sites noted above...

eBay always has listings for things like smokers and hive tools.  I think right now there are something like 200 listings for beekeeping that aren't old books, old magazines or DVD collections of old books etc.  I got my smoker and one of my hive tools there.  

Los Angeles Honey Co. 1559 Fishburn Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90063-2587  323.264.2383 is located just north of I-10, just east of I-5 - not your best 
neighborhood.  If you buy anything that requires fitting, unless you are certain of your size, 
it is better to try it on first.  My bee suit is several sizes larger than I would have 
ordered online.  They have nothing on top bar hives, but gloves, bee suits, veils and stuff
 like that, need to be tried on first.  

For my money, I really like the service and materials I have purchased from Backyard Hive. 

In the lecture, they were the makers of the top bars I thought were the very best.  



  1. If you buy anything that requires fitting, unless you are certain of your size, it is better to try it on first..
    Thanks for sharing..Flowering Pear

  2. Walker - you are SO right! I went to LA Honey and was fitted for my bee suit, gloves and veil - if I had been ordering online, I would have bought gloves too big and a suit too small! And I am fairly steady with sizing - I order shoes, jeans and shirts all the time over the internet. It would have set me back a few days at least while I sorted it all out! Get your suit and gloves where you can try them on and you'll be glad you did.