About our Top Bar Beekeeping Classes

A Gold Star Weekend Intensive is two very full days, jam-packed with the information you need to be ready to keep your own bees in top bar hives. It is appropriate for both novice beekeepers AND those with some beekeeping experience.


What we cover:

  • How We Got Here From There - A history of the beekeeping methods and agricultural practices that have brought us to the methods in use today. What effect are these things having on honeybees? What is causing CCD, and what can you do to help?
  • Inside the Hive - What are the bees doing in there? How can we support their natural processes and systems, managing the hive responsibly, but interfering as little as possible?
  • When to Do What & Why - Starting a new hive, performing hive inspections, comb handling, honey harvesting, wax rendering, mite monitoring, splitting your hive, winterizing. This section includes hands-on work with Gold Star equipment.
  • Terrible Things That Can Happen to Your Wonderful Bees - Forewarned is forearmed! Learn how to keep your bees healthy, and how to recognize and resolve problems in the hive.


About your instructor:
Christy Hemenway,  Owner/Author/Teacher/Speaker

Searching for the answer to the question "Just what did bees do before  beekeepers?" Christy Hemenway launched her own investigation into what was really behind the growing problems with honeybees.

She soon came to the conclusion that "less is more" and that the closer to their natural systems the bees were able to be, the better.   That inspired her to found Gold Star Honeybees - to advance a low-tech, natural beekeeping system known as the top bar hive.

After giving a talk called "How & Why to Keep Bees in Top Bar Hives" at the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, Washington in 2011, Christy was approached by New Society Publishers about writing a book on the subject of top bar beekeeping, and The Thinking Beekeeper - A Guide to Natural Beekeeping in Top Bar Hives was on its way. 

The Thinking Beekeeper was followed in 2016 by its sequel Advanced Top Bar Beekeeping - Next Steps for the Thinking Beekeeper, which picks up where the Thinking Beekeeper left off - at the beginning of the hive's second year.

This informative series discusses the benefits of natural beekeeping in top bar hives, and outlines both the "how-to" and the "why-to" of this simple, bee-friendly, and beekeeper-friendly method of keeping bees.

 Christy has given many talks (including a TED talk in 2011) and has led many a lively discussion about top bar hives and it all melts down (if you will pardon the pun) to this:

"It's all about the wax"


Because the most important feature of a top bar hive will always be what goes on inside: 

Honey bees making their own natural beeswax honeycombs - without the use of foundation.

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Here's what some folks have said about our classes:

"I have been thinking about what it is that makes Christy's class different than other teachings that are available to beekeepers and top bar hive beekeepers:

The class is not only about keeping bees in top bar hives, it is also about bees. What I mean is that it is completely comprehensive. Anyone can Google around for months on end and never find all the information that is included in the class. It is soup to nuts on keeping bees and keeping them in top bar hives. She is an engaging and entertaining teacher building a community of like minded beekeepers who can grow together in experience and in support of one another."
   -- Suzanne Brewer


"I just attended Christy’s Weekend Intensive bee class and found it to be a perfect introduction to the fine art of bee keeping. Christy’s style lends itself to a class full of exploration into the fascinating life of the honey bee. I learned how important this insect is to sustaining our agricultural and natural systems and how imperiled they are by the same practices that have brought industrial agriculture to the unsustainable place it now occupies.

I cannot recommend strongly enough the importance and outright fun that this class can deliver. I have signed up for a top bar hive as a result and can hardly wait to roll down my sleeves and become a member of the bee keeping world. If you have ever thought that you might want to know more about tending wild bees and are looking for a perspective that draws the best from age-old practices and explores the newest methodologies of organic bee keeping, this is the class for you. Enjoy!"
  -- Des FitzGerald




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