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beehaven logo hoopBeekeeper on the New Frontier

Interview with Les Crowder, International Natural Beekeeper

St Mary’s Parish, Jamaica


Les Crowder is one of the beekeepers to look to today. A leader with 40 or so years of experience with bees, this sparkly eyed, soft spoken man has made quite an impact in the world of bees. Although at times on the fringe with his unique hive design and strong anti-pesticide/anti-treatment stance it appears that the world is beginning to take notice of his philosophy and methodology.


(Les Crowder and author Laura Bee Ferguson teaching in Jamaica on USAid, Farmer:Farmer, Partners of the Americas project as directed by Agape Adams at Yerba Beuna Farms)

Les independently, due to his intuitive and practical understanding bees has encouraged open-mating and chemical-free hives for most of his beekeeping career. He has made the treatment-free jump and is proving that this method can establish a mere 10% annual hive loss. Les also had the benefit of keeping his bees in the mountains far from mono-cropping and general pesticide practices, which may indeed have improved his odds. Unfortunately long-term drought, due to human-induced climate change has decimated ancient manzanita groves which are no longer expected to re-bloom, thus destroying Les’s old forage grounds. Regardless, Les has repeatedly found beekeepers with the same experience and says “there are thousands of bee hives in New Mexico that are thriving without in-hive poisons and one day this will be a mainstream practice.” Beekeepers such as Michael Bush, Dee Lusby, Sam Comfort and countless others are also waving the treatment-free flag.


If you get a chance to hear Les Crowder speak, then by all means do! He will be working throughout the West this spring with possible presentations in Hawaii and Oregon as well.

  • His book Top Bar Beekeeping will give a great overview of how to work with this method of beekeeping (with the added benefits and cost savings of working with bee-built comb.)
  • He also has a video that can show the hands-on practices of top bar beekeeping.
  • For his hive design (with the best angles for combs that can be handled) look in the book or on his website fortheloveofbees.com.
  • To hear this interview live check into Honey Culture Radio on 2/14/14, 1-2 PST, live-streaming and archived on kskq.org,


For the full article: apismellifera10.wordpress.com