Before I go crazy reporting on our bees, which are arriving this Sunday, I am posting about all the books I have read on bees and beekeeping so far.
First Lessons in Beekeeping
by Keith S. Delaplane
This book came with our starter kit from Rossman Apiaries. Published by Dadant, the classic beekeeping company, this is an excellent overall starter guide, but approaches the practice in a very spartan fashion. It’s an excellent reference, but it’s a hard read to read through all the way.
by Craig Hughes
This was a book I picked up randomly based on its name. It largely focuses on the experience of Craig Hughes in Great Britain, and some of the references do not apply to the United States. His writing style is very loose and entertaining, though, and it is good to read it as a report on the experiences of one beekeeper, but it does not make for a great reference. There is a fantastic section on gardening for bees in the end of the book. Even if it focuses on English plants, there is enough overlap, especially because common gardening plants there exist in some form in the United States as well.
The Backyard Beekeeper
by Kim Flottum
This is the last beekeeping book I read, and it’s easily the most enjoyable read out of all of them. Full color photos, and very helpful in-text boxes. The directions on installing bees and how to work with the hive and frames are extremely well-illustrated. This is the only book that focuses purely on the urban beekeeper, and does not assume a large commercial operation. Another big plus is that it is very modern in its approach to pest management. It takes into account current movements in greening up your hobby. With diseases and parasites resistant to almost every commercially available pesticide, learning how to work with the bees to keep the hive as healthy as possible without damaging chemicals is the best way to ensure sustainable management This is the best choice for the beginning urban beekeeper, and doubles as a great reference, too, with its clear pictures and guidance.
A Field Guide to Honey Bees and Their Maladies
by The Pennsylvania State Agricultural Department
An absolutely essential reference guide for analyzing diseases and other disorders while checking out your hives. Worth reading through beforehand, just to familiarize yourself with what you might face. Definitely not for the faint of heart, as it contains graphic descriptions of bee disease (literally and figuratively), but this is a necessary evil for keeping bees. The PDF freely available at this location: Field Guide
A Book of Bees
by Sue Hubbell
A significantly more low-key and enjoyable read about bees. I had someone explain this book to me as kind of John Muir exploration of the philosophy of beekeeping and the enjoyment of working with your environment in such a direct and synchronous way. I have not finished this yet, but it reads like a summer breeze, and is very uplifting in its explorations of nature and the practice of beekeeping.
The Buzz about Bees
by Jürgen Tautz
This is not a beekeeping book, but a book that will fascinate you throughout, whether you’re a naturalist, social theorist, or a fan of E.O. Wilson’s travels into the world of cooperation in the animal kingdom, this will open your eyes to how well the beehive interacts, and how well bees have evolved to interpret their environment. An absolute joy to read for us aspiring scientists out there, yet completely understandable to people with little to no biological background.