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Are you a beginner beekeeper curious about bees or a practicing beekeeper looking for natural alternatives that work? Then this book is for you!

In the second edition of the bestselling beekeeping guide Keeping Bees with a Smile, Fedor Lazutin, one of Europe's most successful natural beekeepers, shares the bee-friendly approach to apiculture that is fun, healthful, rewarding, and accessible to all. This new edition includes dozens of color photographs, new hive management techniques, and an updated version of "Lazutin hive" plans. Additional coverage includes:

• Keeping bees naturally without interfering in their lives
• Starting an apiary for free by attracting local bee swarms
• Building low-maintenance hives that mimic how bees live in nature
• Keeping colonies healthy and strong without any drugs, sugar, or gimmickry
• Helping bees to overwinter successfully even in harsh climates
• Enhancing local nectar plant resources
• Producing truly natural honey without robbing the bees
• Reversing the global bee decline... right in your backyard!
Keeping Bees with a Smile is an invaluable resource for apiculture beginners and professionals alike, complete with plans for making bee-friendly, well-insulated horizontal hives with extra-deep frames, plus other fascinating beekeeping advice you won't find anywhere else.

About the Authors

Fedor Lazutin was a natural beekeeper, homesteader, and advocate for habitat restoration and sustainable living in Russia.
Leonid Sharashkin, PhD, is a full-time natural beekeeper and founder of HorizontalHive.com. He has edited numerous books on natural beekeeping, writes for major magazines, and speaks internationally on bee-friendly beekeeping. He keeps bees in the Ozarks of southern Missouri.

Where to get it?

New Society Publishers
Amazon US
Amazon CA
Amazon UK
Amazon AU

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steward & bricolagier
Posts: 14008
Location: SW Missouri
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I give “Keeping Bees With A Smile, Principles and Practices of Natural Beekeeping” by Fedor Lazutin edited by Dr. Leo Sharashkin 10 out of 10 acorns, with the caveat that the data in this book is specific to Mr Lazutin’s Russian climate and local bees (the European dark bee, Apis mellifera mellifera.) However, the information presented is incredibly useful in understanding what wild bees do, and how to adapt that information to keeping bees in your climate.

(All quotes are from the book)

The real secret to beekeeping is knowing your bees’ custom and following it. Anyone who wants to keep bees successfully should mirror wild bees’ way of life to the greatest extent possible.
~ Nikolay Vitvitsky (1764–1853)

To me, the principles related in this book are tied into how I treat all animals. I don’t try to force an animal to do what they don’t do naturally, instead, I look at what they do naturally, and figure out how to make that work for what I want them to do. We want bees to make honey, and learning how wild bees do it tells us a lot about what we can do to make their lives easier, so they do it more.

Because in those days people believed they were capable of anything—of yoking nature to the service of humans, of recklessly mowing down forests, of making rivers flow backward, of draining swamps. And—almost as an afterthought—of forcing bees to work “on the assembly line,” filling one super after another with honey, with no negative consequences. Against this backdrop, “natural” single-box hives—just like log hives—already seemed like some anachronism left behind by one’s grandparents.

However, to humanity’s credit, it must be said that it has already begun (particularly in technocratically developed countries) to have second thoughts and, slowly but surely, to change course. This is particularly evident in the fields of agriculture and ecology. You’ve undoubtedly heard of organic food (grown without artificial fertilizers and pesticides), the system of shallow (no-till) land cultivation, organic and biodynamic agriculture, and permaculture.

We’ve gone far astray in our senseless striving to remake nature according to our whim; it’s high time we took a break and reconsidered.

I think that reconsideration includes looking at what wild bees do, and what was working before the industrial model of beekeeping started. That is exactly what Fedor Lazutin thought too, and did. This book is the result of his thinking and experimenting.

It is exclusively concerned with what I’ve done firsthand, many times over—from building beehives in my workshop to raising nectar-bearing trees in my nursery. In my many years of beekeeping experience, I haven’t used a single gram of medicine, have only propagated my colonies through swarming, and
have never fed bees sugar. And I’ve been convinced through experience that it all works! However, everything presented in this book isn’t a dogma, or some action plan; it’s just food for thought.

There ARE action plans in here though, plans for how to build horizontal hives that are easy to care for with minimal time and effort, that require no medication, no queen excluders, no supplemental feeding, no buying nucs and requeening. And that to me is priceless information.

“With my 100 horizontal hives, I only spend 6 to 7 days per year on my bees and get a wholesome honey crop. I could not wish for a better hive model.” ~ Andrey Yakimov

Six to seven days a year, for 100 hives? That’s my kind of beekeeping! I have always thought that putting on supers and taking them off, besides being heavier work than I can handle, sounds to me like it annoys the bees. They put all that work into their honey and you take it from them, at a time when they don’t wish to give it up? No wonder you need to smoke them into submission! It’s their nature to protect their stores from bears, other bees, wasps... and people who are stealing their honey. Taking honey at the right times, inspecting at the right times, and leaving them alone the rest of the time makes SO much more sense to me. Giving them a hive that works with their natural instincts first and is convenient for the beekeeper second, also makes sense to me. And there are plans for hives like that, including plans by the editor that use lumber that can be found at Lowes or Home Depot.  

The skeptical reader may suspect that all of this sounds a bit too simple. Indeed it is. But then, this search for simplicity and sense is what brings meaning to my life. What about you?
What do you think—why were human beings endowed with intelligence? To complicate our lives, or to simplify them? To create new problems by violating nature’s laws, or, by going with the natural flow of things, to achieve our goals simply and easily?

I believe our intelligence is to be used to simplify our lives, to work with the reality of the natural world, rather than against it. Learning how bees, left to their own devices, do things, and how we can mimic that in a way that’s convenient for us, is, to me, the smart way to keep bees. This is an excellent book, I highly recommend it!

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I give this book 10 out of 10 acorns.

This is a very unique bee book that is packed full of useful information. It has something for all levels of beekeepers. It is of particular interest for anyone interested in learning more about natural beekeeping techniques & building colonies to survive serious winter conditions. It's specifically about black bees in Russia. So the author knows winter:) It's not exactly a beginner book but I wish I would have read it before starting out. Would have saved some bees & a lot of learning the hard way. If nothing else ... it gets the potential beekeeper thinking in the right direction. The author very clearly spells out some of the problems with modern beekeeping methods. Then he provides practical solutions.

One of the practical solutions & a large focus of the book is the Lazutin hive. The book contains a lot of fascinating historical info in general & much of that explains how this hive style & the author's approach to natural beekeeping came to be. It includes instructions & blueprints also. It's similar to some horizontal hives commonly used in North America but with some key differences. Bigger frames & better insulation mostly.

I have to admit to not reading every word of this book yet but couldn't help but notice many references to log hives & how bees think & act in logs. For anyone interested in log hives I think it's worth digging into just for that. That's a good summary of the book too. The book completely explains how & why he designed hives & why he keeps bees how he does. From the bee's perspective. Naturally. With a Smile. (extra smiles for the cool bee gazebo) Oh yea, the artwork & pictures are nice too! Finishing this book soon is a priority. Will recommend our local bee association purchase a copy & donate it to the local library.
Author & Beekeeper
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One comment I hear the most about Keeping Bees with a Smile is that "it makes sense".  Instead of presenting a beekeeper's view, this book puts the bees first and explains what they need to thrive. After reading Keeping Bees with a Smile in the original Russian and visiting the author's apiaries, I knew this information had to be made available in English, so we spent a full year to produce the best-possible English version. I witness the truth of this natural beekeeping approach every day in my own bee yards, and receive a stream of heartwarming emails from others who put it to practice and report wonderful results. Be warned that catching local swarms and having an apiary composed of robust "survivor stock" can be overwhelming at times as the number of colonies keeps growing in geometric progression! Here is a quote from a beekeeper who attended my two-day seminar at my bee farm in Missouri: "I captured 98 swarms last spring and then took down my traps before I caught anymore, I had all I needed. I had 135 hives out of 137 survive the winter and they look strong going into spring." You can go from 10 to 200 hives in two summers, if only you can build hive boxes fast enough.
author & steward
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Location: Southeastern U.S. - Zone 7b
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I give this book 10 out of 10 acorns.

This book was recommended to me years ago. I've always been interested in natural beekeeping, but my first go-round was less than successful. I was discouraged. So, when Dr. Leo Sharashkin did a giveaway for this book here on Permies, I started asking questions, bought the book, and had my enthusiasm restored!

This one is the expanded second edition of the book by Russian beekeeper Fedor Lazutin. I'm not sure when it was translated into English. It is divided into four parts and includes multiple appendices.

Part 1: A Path to Natural Apiculture, is as an introduction to natural beekeeping. It discusses the basics of how to keep bees naturally, covers a bit of beekeeping history, and contrasts the natural versus the modern industrialized approaches. The extra-deep frame horizontal hive is introduced. It's interesting that this design accommodates the natural behaviors of honeybees, and so avoids many of the problems modern beekeepers face.

Part 2: The Practice of Natural Apiculture, begins to fill out the introductory outline with details about extra-deep frame horizontal hives and how they are managed. Includes how to capture a swarm with a swarm trap.

Part 3: The Finer Points of Natural Beekeeping takes a look at this natural method three years later. This is important, because new ideas often sound good, but without the benefit of time and experience, it can't be known that the new ideas actually work. Analyzes a colony's rhythms and strength. Discusses the Queen, swarming, managing the hive entrance, inspections, preparing for the main honeyflow, pulling honey, and preparing for winter.

Part 4: How Bee Colonies Winter and How to Make Wintering as Successful as Possible. Contains excellent information on the wintering process including what a colony does during winter, thermal considerations, bee respiration, water, and winter reserves.

The eight appendices contain a wealth of information.
  • How to make swarm traps and capture swarms
  • how to produce, install, and unite swarms
  • Nucs: what to expect and how to handle them
  • Operations throughout the year
  • How to build a Horizontal hive with extra-deep frames (two versions)
  • Lazutin hive plans
  • Summary handouts
  • Glossary

  • Even with a lot of helpful technical information, the writer's style is easy to read and very enjoyable. Anyone seriously considering natural beekeeping would greatly benefit from this book.
    Posts: 701
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    I give this book 10 out of 10 acorns. The only reason I am even considering keeping bees is that I listened to podcasts and watched videos with Jacqueline Freeman. If she hadn't painted a beautiful picture of natural beekeeping for me I would never have been interested. When I looked online and on Permies for a book that could get me started on this path, Keeping Bees With a Smile was repeatedly and unreservedly suggested. This book makes me feel like I'm theoretically and philosophically ready for bees. I had zero bee experience before reading it but feel like I've just been given a day-long tour of the author's apiary. My reservations about standard, industrial beekeeping were reinforced and my hopes of having a bee-centric, mutually beneficial apiary despite my cold climate were buoyed. This book has opened a door for me that I can honestly say I'm excited about. The beginning of a new adventure.  
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    I agree with this form of bee keeping i keep my bees as close to nature as possible....
    Posts: 425
    Location: Indiana
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    Michael Helmersson wrote:I give this book 10 out of 10 acorns. The only reason I am even considering keeping bees is that I listened to podcasts and watched videos with Jacqueline Freeman.

    I'm joining the crowd and giving a 10 out of 10 acorns as well.

    I was lifting my Langstroth Super's full of honey the second season I had my one hive. I just thought that there had to be a better way for me at 77 yrs to manage hives without the heavy lifting. I started looking on the Internet for different methods and ran across the horizontalhive.com site. It looked interesting and I saw the "Keeping Bees With A Smile" ad on that site and bought the book. I read it from cover to cover, and several times over in few areas. I got so interested that I signed up for a 2 day seminar in MO and was fascinated enough that I came back with a Horizontal Hive. I've never been sorry about all of that either as the bees in that hive are always calmer than the Langstroth hive I still have.

    And, I am getting people in our small community BeeKeeping Group interested in building some horizontal hives using their existing Langstroth frames as start ups. I recommend to them that later they can use the large form of the Langstroth frames. Part of my ploy at getting people around here to accept the horizontal version of hives is that they are all getting older and the lifting of a Langstroth FRAME is much easier on the OLD muscles than lifting a 60 to 80 super of honey. THAT makes them start thinking about the future.
    I think I'm turning Japanese. I really think so. This tiny ad thinks so too:
    Switching from electric heat to a rocket mass heater reduces your carbon footprint as much as parking 7 cars
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