My brain is hypersensitive to all manner of sensory inputs, and initially they both urked me with their plethora of spelling and grammatical errors, and just poor editing. The content of the magazines is good, though. Both try to serve commercial beekeepers as well as the surge of new hobbyists, and it makes for a good mix. The topics covered are similar, so much so that there is one story that appears in both titles this month. Having decided that they are too similar to subscribe to both, I am unable to pick which one. I need your help. I'm going to tell you what I like/don't like about each, and if you subscribe I want to know what you like/don't like.
"The Inner Cover," Kim Flottum's editorial column each month is usually pretty interesting, and he's even mentioned his Top Bar Hive once or twice. But Catch the Buzz is just as interesting and free. (Bee Culture's blog seems to have fallen by the wayside, but it's worth adding to your Feedly or Flipboard.) The closing article each month, "The Bottom Board," is by Ed Colby. He keeps bees on Aspen Mountain and while that may be a few hours from here, it's still Colorado. When you don't have a mentor readily available, reading what a "local" has to say every month is nice. In between, over the course of the past year, I bookmarked just 3 articles for future reference. (Ask the Circulation Manager for a free sample issue of Bee Culture here.)
American Bee Journal
Like the driver in front of me turning his head around backwards to see the accident on the other side of the highway, for some reason I read the "Classroom" Q&A section. Jerry Hayes has a way with words that seems abrasive to me, but if you ignore the delivery and pay attention to the information, the section usually has some tidbit of useful information. Occasionally, Dr. Wyatt Mangum will write an article on Top Bar Hives. Over the course of the past year, I bookmarked 4 articles for future reference, including this month's (Dec2011) article on top entrances and management of Top Bar Hives. (The second TBH we just built is just begging for modification.)
Want to take a closer look? Both magazines run about $25 for a year, which isn't a lot but could mean the difference between buying that honey refractometer or not. If you call to subscribe, you can get a 20% (?) discount by telling them you belong to a bee club.
I've got an archive of actual magazine up for grabs. Bee Culture January 2011–January 2012 and American Bee Journal February 2011–January 2012. You pay for postage, and they're yours. Email if interested.