There are lots of books about bees and beekeeping, so I thought I would share the few I have read or listened to since my little obsession began. Reading (or listening) to a book makes one qualified to have an opinion on it, so enjoy.
Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health
This is the book that started it all, as I purchased this book the day after seeing a top bar hive at a local craft fair. I devoured it in a day. Long-time beekeepers Les Crowder and his wife Heather Harrell offer a compelling case for top bar beekeeping. I especially like how they cover more advanced topics such as queen rearing – not something I see myself doing but very interesting to see and think about. This was a great introduction for me as a first book on bees, beekeeping, and top bar hives.
Bees In America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation
Soon after finishing the Top-Bar Beekeeping book, I found this wonderful 2005 book by Tammy Horn. Ms Horn tracks the history of bees in the United States, from before independence to present day, and the impact of bees on the growing country. The focus is not only on bees and beekeeping, but on how bees were represented in American culture and perceived by society.
I listened to the Audible.com version during my rather long daily commute, making it much easier to ignore the heavy traffic. I was quickly reminded that an audio book can be a poor reference, as there are some great bee quotes and quips that I wanted to note down. Thank goodness for the bookmark button. The stories about early hives and bee hunting before Langstroth were particularly interesting. I also enjoyed the artistic and religious references, such as poems by Emily Dickinson and E.B. White, hymns such as How Doth the Busy Little Bee, and the importance of bees to the Mormon community and Utah in general. The book is a treasure trove of American bee trivia, and I definitely recommend the book for bee enthusiasts, or wannabee enthusiasts like myself.
A to Bee: My First Year as a Beginner Beekeeper
How could I not buy this book! James Dearsley began a fascination with bees in the fall, started a popular blog (http://www.surreybeekeeper.co.uk – though he seems more active on Facebook and Twitter now), and set out to get one jar of honey in his first year of beekeeping. He mixes his personal antics and occasional clumsiness obtaining and getting to know his hive with general information about bees and beekeeping. I listened to the Audible.com version and enjoyed it thoroughly.
A Book of Bees: And How to Keep Them
A great story as much as practical advice on the keeping of bees, this 1988 book by Sue Hubbell tells the tale of four seasons of beekeeping. The conversational tone is an easy read (yes, I actually have the paper version of this one), and the words flow easily from general information on bees and beekeeping equipment to specific examples and advice of how she cares for over 300 beehives.
I read the original version published in 1988, which is the cover shown here, as I found a used copy for a good price. There is a newer version published in 1998 that might have more updated information, something I didn’t realize when I bought my copy. Much of the information is similar to what I have seen elsewhere, but this book is enjoyable for the stories about nature and bees in the Ozarks as much as any of the tips on beekeeping.
Before writing The Book of Bees, Sue Hubbell wrote her first book A Country Year. She has since moved to Maine and has been a prolific writer (see http://suehubbell.com). If I run out of other bee books I will definitely look to Ms. Hubbell for some nighttime reading as I enjoy her easy prose and practical outlook.