Beekeeping Books & Other Books I Like
This blog is about sorting our beekeeping heads out as much as looking after the bees, so with this in mind, I thought I would start to list and review the books I have read that have given me genuine motivational boosts and that I am pretty confident will work for most people reading this blog.
Being someone who “thinks too much”, I have read far too many self-help books. The first one I read “The Road Less Travelled” (US Link), might have been where all my problems started! It literally opened my mind and reached parts of my brain that engineering text books and late night drunken conversations had not reached. I still recommend it to my friends that need to get in touch with their emotions, but I give it a health warning.
In the last few years I have found that philosophy is better than self-help. This may sound grand … but the truth is there is only philosopher I can understand: Alain de Botton. And if I can understand him, so can you.
In the last 6 months I have discovered that reading about honeybees and beekeeping have proved far better for my mental health.
Beekeeping Guides (UK)
Beekeeping – A Seasonal Guide, by Ron Brown is my current, favourite beekeeping book. It looks good, it feels good, it even smells good. I also like the way Ron labels activities for “beginners” and “improvers”. It has taken the pressure off trying to undertake complex manoeuvres in my first year. It definitely makes a great present, but does not include some important beekeeping techniques, like dividing a hive and reuniting hives. Hence, some of the other books listed are also worth buying.
Beekeeping For Dummies is very comprehensive and up-to-date. Reviews include “This is an incredibly good book and read. When I first got it, it was just out of curiosity however the more I read the more and more enthusiastic I became … All in all a random book has given me a whole new hobby. How’s that for a great book?”
Bees at the Bottom of the Garden is popular and came free with my hive. However, it was written in 2001 and much has been learnt about varroa since then.
A Practical Manual of Beekeeping is popular, but I have not read this yet.
The guide which goes with the beehaus is a good introduction to beekeeping and is available as a FREE download (and you don’t need to give your email address). Reviews include: “I am not a beekeeper but want to be one. I found this book extremely helpful, clear and informative“.
Beekeeping Guides (US)
Beekeeping For Dummies (US version), my colleagues at work bought this for me before the UK edition existed and it was the first beekeeping book I read. It was excellent and made me want to keep bees.
The Beekeepers Handbook has been around for 20 years. The following review says it all: The Beekeeper’s Handbook has guided thousands of beginning and advanced beekeepers in the how-tos of this entertaining and profitable pastime. Simply put, it is the best of the best of beekeeping books.”-Roger A. Morse (reviewing the third edition).
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I am currently reading The Barefoot Beekeeper and I will review this shortly.
Getting The Best From You Bees: Chris Slade, one of the authors, commented on my blog and I have included it in this reading list. I haven’t read it (yet). The description includes “This book encourages you to work with the bees rather than against them” and he explains more in his comments below. He has made some very valid comments on my beehive page.
I intend to read the others I have highlighted below (Christmas presents I hope …).
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Beekeeping Stories (Non Fiction )
The Bad Beekeepers Club: I was reading this book aloud to my “nearly-wife” to see if I could interest her in bees. After a few minutes I wish I hadn’t. The first chapter is largely taken with Bill getting stung a number of times and I wasn’t so happy when she said “there is no way we are having bees in the garden”. We haven’t got a garden, so by the time we do have I am hoping she will like the bees! Reviews include “This is a book I had been waiting for with some anticipation. It lived up to my expectations and more. Only a few pages in and the tears were coming down my face from laughing and in this vein I finished the book“. This is a funny book and a gentle introduction to beekeeping which can be enjoyed by everyone (including your partner).
From A To Bee: Recently published and I am half way through reading it. I will publish a review in the near future.
Bad Beekeeping. Another one on my reading list. Summary: This beekeeper’s memoir follows the life of a young man from Pennsylvania as he drops into the bald prairie badlands of Saskatchewan. He buys a bee ranch, keeps a billion bees and makes a million pounds of honey. And then he quits. The reviews are good: “Based on other reviews I bought this book for my beekeeping father. He loved it. He just called to tell me how funny/entertaining it was… “ The author sounds interesting: Ron Miksha had 2,000 hives of bees twenty years ago. He produced over a million pounds of honey in Saskatchewan … hauling hives thousands of miles every year.
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If you want to know more about honeybees I recommend The Buzz about Bees: Biology of a Superorganism. It’s only in hardback and on the expensive side but contains over 250 excellent photos and the following review is typical “As a basic work, ‘The Buzz about Bees’ is not only a milestone in bee literature for beekeepers, but recommended for anyone interested in nature.”
The Bee Garden. The following review says it all: “This fascinating new book is exactly what the bee-keeping and gardening community has been waiting for. It bridges a very real gap in the existing literature on bee-keeping and ecologically-friendly gardening, by combining a number of vital elements – a rich source of information about bees, their needs and their world, the book is, moreover, an invaluable aid to the planning and design of a garden which will be attractive to bees, as well as beautiful and productive to humans.”
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Philosophy (for regaining beekeeper sanity)
Until I discovered Alain de Botton, I found all philosophy hard work and usually could not get past the 2ndpage. I had no idea what they going on about. Alain de Botton makes philosophy highly accessible, which is a gift to all us philosophy wannabees. Reviews of his books include: “As a previous reviewer commented “something about de Botton’s writing captivates me…” I feel exactly the same way. This is writer I return to again and again. Not a single sentence misses a beat. I love this book and the impact it has had on my thinking.”
Status Anxiety. I think beekeeping raises our social standing (?!) … but if you feel inadequate, if you feel that you are doing the right things but feel like a bit of a failure, if everyone around you appears to be better looking, better off and more successful – read this book. This book is wise and funny as are all his other books.
The Romantic Movement: If you’re a romantic or a commitment phobe, if you are in a relationship or single, we all need some words of wisdom in the matters of the heart. This book is part novel, part philosophy, drawing on the wisdom of philosophers throughout history. Reviews include: “This book breaks all the rules about how novels should be written and yet succeeds wonderfully. It’s a meditation on a relationship, with the author breaking off to reflect on what is going on in the character’s heads. Its charming, funny, clever and thought provoking“. Another wise book by Alain de Botton. It helped me. It might help you.
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Non Beekeeping Stories (Fiction)
A Fraction Of The Whole: This book is probably a bit like marmite. You will love it or hate it. I loved the madness of the characters, so I think it will appeal to beekeeper types. I know its lazy but here is a copy and paste of the book description which says it all: From his prison cell, Jasper Dean tells the unlikely story of his scheming father Martin, his crazy Uncle Terry and how the three of them upset – mostly unintentionally – an entire continent. Incorporating death, parenting (good and bad kinds), one labyrinth, first love, a handbook for criminals, a scheme to make everyone rich and an explosive suggestion box. Steve Toltz’s A Fraction of the Whole is a hilarious, heartbreaking story of families and how to survive them. A commentor adds “Even after everything is taken away from them (family, friends, citizenship) they remain steadfastly cerebral. Thinking themselves into corners.” Reviews include: “A sizzling, sparkling, provocative book full of comic anarchy, wonderful characters and idealistic enlightenment. A book to savour. Head and shoulders above any other fiction I’ve read for years. Magnificent“. Read it!