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on 22 July 2017
Got to be a firm must read this book. Good sence natural approach to beekeeping that should be the benchmark.
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on 28 October 2009
This book is excellent and well worth reading, it is very informative about beekeeping in a close to natural environment and encourages a respect for the bee and it requirements.
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on 19 August 2009
This is a simple but brilliant book explaining how to keep bees in a natural, sustainable way. Forget specialist equipment and "traditional" intensive farming methods which stress the bees and lower their natural resilience. A bit of simple woodwork and an empathetic but responsible approach to husbanding a wild animal will reward you with your own honey and, more importantly, help support the dwindling bee population.
If you only buy one book about beekeeping, make sure it's this one.
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on 11 July 2009
With the intention of taking up bee keeping for the bees sake rather than for what could be taken from them untill I read this book I was left dissapointed by the attitudes that seemed to prevail through much of the beekeeping fraternity. What a breath of fresh air Mr chandler is with his natural holistic approach to keeping bees. His honest book has renewed my enthusiasm and faith in the subject. The book contains details of how to construct a simple hive suited to the needs of the occupants with more than enough background and advice for any beginner or those wishing to change their approach to keeping bees. There are also details of his web site and others which offer tremendous support for the aspiring apiarist. If chemicals and manipulation are not for you then this is the book to buy. I would not hesitate to reccomend this book to any one thinking of taking up bee keeping and would respectively suggest that those who have been using other methods read this book with an open mind.
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on 21 March 2011
I have built a topbar hive (to Phil's design in this book) and have had a colony of bees in it for 9 months. I also keep regular hives.

The colony survived one of the coldest winters ever - with the open mesh floor open to the elements. Proof (if any were needed) that bees don't mind cold. It's damp that they don't like, and the OMF certainly provides a lot of ventilation.

But .... I have some practical issues with the design.

1. Despite being exactly to the spec, the bees built comb across the bars and stuck it to the side of the hive inside. This means that that comb cannot be removed to be inspected. If you are unconcerned about whether your bees are a source of disease for other hives in the area, this is fine. But a conscientious beek should do their best to ensure a healthy hive - and you can't do that if you can't remove the comb for inspection.

2. Despite the use of a circular saw and really careful construction, it's a bit tricky to get the internal end-stops to be bee-proof.

3. If you want to treat for varroa (and most beeks do), it's not easy because there is no top-bee-space on which to put the thymol (a natural substance, before anyone gets too excited.)

4. For the same reason, it's quite hard to feed the bees. You need to be quite ingenious and adept at handiwork.

Summary. Topbar hives are best undertaken by skilled woodworkers and skilled beekeepers, not beginners. And if it's honey you're after, go for regular hives.

Addendum: 11.09.2011
My top bar colony died. It was the only colony that I was unable to treat for varroa and it was the only colony that died. Anecdotal, rather than convincing scientific, proof of my previous review.

I am interested that most positive reviewers have not actually kept bees!

I really do have an open mind and I love to try different methods, probably before I am proficient enough to do so.

I expect there to be a backlash against top bar/Kenyan hives because they are more difficult to manage than conventional hives. So new beeks will find that they have more dead colonies that their conventional colleagues.

But if your Darwinian goal is bees that evolve to resist varroa, then your dead colonies will contribute to evolution of the european bee. Good luck with that! You will need a lot of patience and a long life :-) And a lot of dead bees.
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on 24 May 2010
Having completed a course on beekeeping and read several traditional books on the subject, it was refeshing to find Philip Chandler's book. This has been a complete eye-opener to me and has convinced me to use top bar hives only and to care for bees in as natural a way as possible. His argument is, for me, utterly persuasive, and I am surprised that traditional methods of beekeeping have not been challenged more often. If you are thinking of keeping bees, do read this book to give you an alternative method which, it would seem is much more bee-friendly.
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on 23 February 2011
This is a book that deals with not only some of the problems with bees, but in doing so tackles issues that are large in our living world. Namely the exploitation of animals to our own gain at all costs.
This book was a clear answer to the questions arising from my own ad hoc hands off approach to bee keeping.
It is truly an inspiring and uplifting book, that can be part of a wholesome change in society.
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on 31 August 2009
This book shows how to keep things simple and straightforward for both the bees and the beekeeper. Avoid all the lifting and expensive gadgets and just enjoy keeping your own bees, getting some honey and having a great experience. Well written and easy to read: a must for any potential, or even experienced, beekeeper.
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on 20 January 2013
First of all let me say I have 10 years of beekeeping experience in the harsh climate of North East Scotland.

Beginner beekeepers beware of being sucked in by the rosy hyperbole delivered by this book.

If you can't treat your bees for varroa (and this hive design doesn't easily allow you to) it's 99% certain your bees will die if not in the first year then certainly by the second. This hive also lends itself to your bees dying from isolation starvation in winter - its long design means the bees get stuck on their stores at one side of the hive and if, when those stores run out, the weather is too cold for them to move their cluster to another area of stores they die in situ. Phil Chandler has publicly acknowledged that he has repeatedly lost all of his bees and had to restock (not sure from where) - that should tell you all you need to know.

There are a couple of TBH beekeepers who have made a success of TBHs but they have modified this design - you'd be well advised to seek them out eg madasafish on beekeepingforum.co.uk
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on 31 August 2013
This is the definitive book for keeping bees in a top bar hive. It is written in an accessible and humerous style. Top bar beekeeping is much more natural than the 'traditional' national type of hive. The bees can make comb how they want to rather than being forced to build on pre-formed foundation.

Even if you don't end up keeping bees there is plenty in this book to tell you all you need to know about the fascinating life of bees and how to help them.

Update January 2017
After 3 + years our bees in top bar hives are still doing very well indeed!

Check out the biobees - barefoot beekeeper website too.
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