Our Story

BackYardHive.com was established in the spring of 2005. We initiated a global paradigm shift in beekeeping practices, that centered on healthy bee-centric management practices which has helped pioneer a future for chemical free beekeeping. BackYardHive was the first to offer backyard beekeepers online resources; training DVD's, and information about getting started in a lifetime of top bar beekeeping. We realized the need early on and became the very first organization to make available fully assembled top bar hives on the web. BackYardHive.com is committed to sharing knowledge and top bar hive technologies that encourage and enable backyard beekeepers to be successful and completely chemical free.

At BackYardHive, we are committed to bee-centric practices that increase the survivability of colonies. When colonies survive they pass on the genetics which carry the behavioral traits that enabled them to thrive. If the bees are cared for by applying the Bee Guardian Methods, then the survivor genetics and healthy behavioral traits will be preserved within the gene pool.

We will once again see the genetic signatures of local adaptation, genes that  underlie healthy immune system, reproduction and disease resistance.

Founder Corwin Bell

BackYardHive.com was founded by long time treatment-free Bee Guardian Corwin Bell. In 1995 Bell started keeping bees due to a long time fascination with this delicate pollinator. From the beginning Corwin always built his own hives. Early on, before beekeepers recognized the massive value of survivor behaviors preserved in the genetics of wild swarms, Bell made it his mission to field every call and save as many wild swarms as he could. He began getting an ever increasing number of phone calls alerting him of swarms that needed to be captured and given a good home. With each swarm Bell would take the opportunity to build and test different hive designs, idea's, features and alternative practices.


Corwin Bell founder of BackYardHive.com Beekeeping Classes and Supplies

Our Hive Designs

The hives offered today on BackYardHive.com are an accumulation of many years of trial and error which include many successes and many happy colonies of bees! Our top bar hives represent Corwin's years of refinement to every detail about the hive.

Many of the common features that are now incorporated in most other top bar hive designs available on the internet Corwin has innovated. Some of the design highlights that Corwin invented for top bar hives are the viewing window, the one piece triangle top bars, and access spacers

Golden Mean ratio top bar hive

Corwin invented the Golden Mean ratio hive, which has been our best seller. We have made our hive designs “open source” globally, meaning that anyone can make our top bar hives and sell them without paying royalties or avoiding patents. This has enabled thousands of hives to be built around the globe and has helped to establish healthy bee habitats around the world. We have always maintained that the bees come first.

The Cathedral Hive

Corwin's most recent hive design incorporates years off observation of hive nests in the wild and the study of survival behaviors in thousands of bee colonies in Top bar hives. Over a 5 year period, Corwin created several prototype Cathedral Hives with varied design structures, then he observed how the bee colonies structured their nest, how the bees either accepted or rejected different features. He essentially let the bees determine how the hive was created. Corwin then made several hives per year in order to test numerous variables and modifications and then by observing how bees interacted with the modification, we adapted the architecture. With each successive hive we made, we either included or abandoned the previous modification depending on the response from the bees. We believe that The Cathedral Hive is the next evolution of the Top Bar hive.

Corwin has also invented many innovative, specialized hive tools and gear suited for Top bar beekeepers.

Corwin is a computer animator/filmmaker by trade, he is a keen observer of honeybee behavior yet has remained refreshingly naive in terms of what the “experts” “know” about honeybee behavior. His perspective offers a wealth of understanding, a view from a wildly different angle than is the norm. Corwin knowledge and observations of well adapted colonies and honeybee behavior informs his workshops and talks, making them extremely informative and truly inspiring.



Co-founder Karen Sadenwater

karen bee guardian teaching natural beekeeping classes
Karen co-founded BackYardHive.com with Corwin in 2005 after she caught her first bee swarm and was hooked on bees. She talked to a local woodworker asking to have a hive built overnight for her newly caught swarm. With much discussion between the woodworker and Corwin about hive size and details the first 'BackYardHive' was born. Soon after Corwin and Karen created a website with backyard beekeeping information, a training DVD and fully assembled hives.

Karen has worked with the bees under the guidance of Corwin for the past 10 years.  Karen brings a sense of calm and respect when working with the honeybees.  She co-teaches the classes with Corwin and is especially skilled and patient with getting beginners started in their new journey of bee guardianship.

Bee Hives, Beekeeping Supplies and More

In addition to top bar hives and beekeeping supplies, we also provide a number of services to our community, including: swarm removal, classes, public speaking and education, and one-on-one training. If you are interested in any of our services, please Contact Us .

Backyard hive also founded the Bee Guardian Network, an organized army of TBH beekeepers and swarm retrievers, that is as well organized as any beehive. The Bee Guardian project created a way for concerned Bee Guardians to unite and confront harmful pesticide practices and policies.