Happy New Year! Since I last caught up on Bees with Eeb, I have done great things! Well, not great things, but I ordered a package of Italians for my top bar hive, reviewed many options for spring and finished a few books on beekeeping. With the days growing longer, if not warmer, I’m looking forward to my bee class in roughly two weeks. So I thought my first post of the year should be to summarize my status and recent reading.
On the hive front, I purchased a bee package! I pick it up on April 12, so I should have my top bar hive going by mid April (yay!). After much research and thought, I also plan to have two Langstroth hives, most likely using 8-frame medium boxes. This will allow me to have a mentor from the local bee association, as well as purchase local nucs to fill the hive.
Everyone says having different size hives can cause problems, so hopefully I am up for it. I figure after a year or two I can settle on a single hive type, but we’ll see.
On the reading front, I continue to work my way through various bee books. I have yet to decide what to read next, although I do have a new list of books to consider courtesy of Emily Scott (thank you) in a comment on my previous book post.
Top-Bar Hive Beekeeping: Wisdom and Pleasure Combined
It took some time, but I finally finished Dr. Wyatt Mangum’s tome of a book. The over 400 full-size pages reflects his 25+ years using top bar hives for a commercial beekeeping operation, from building, managing and repairing to apiary placement, pollination hives, and queen rearing. The 2012 book is somewhat self-published, so is not widely available except on Dr. Mangum’s web site.
This is a very detailed book with hundreds of pictures and explanations, and seems like an invaluable resource for any top bar beekeeper. Dr. Mangum is a bit impressed with himself, and assumes the reader has beekeeping experience. (He doesn’t recommend top bar hives for new beekeepers.) As a result, the repeated self-aggrandizing can be tiring; and it seems like he is skipping the basics at times. In this manner it is probably a good companion to the more humble and beginner-oriented Top Bar Beekeeping book by Les Crowder and Heather Harrell that I discussed in my Book of Bees post.
Dr. Mangum desperately needs an editor, though. He spends two pages describing how to properly place a honey comb in a container. A discussion in Les Crowder’s book covered similar information in a single paragraph. I suppose the lack of brevity does ensure that each topic is thoroughly presented in amazing detail, covering all aspects of each procedure, in a way that really illustrates how top bar hives should be managed.
I have to say that I am happy to have read it and to have it in my library. The procedures and pictures are very detailed and will likely prove invaluable in the future.
Homegrown Honey Bees: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Beekeeping Your First Year, from Hiving to Honey Harvest
I bought a copy of this 2013 book by Alethea Morrison for each of my future helpers S and G. I’m not sure if they’ve read their copy, but I enjoyed it. This was the first book I’ve read focused on how to managed Langstroth hives as a beginner.
The photos and descriptions are simple and clear, and walks the reader through bees, equipment, and seasonal management. There is a real focus on treatment-free techniques, which I appreciated, while still discussing when chemical treatments are appropriate. A nice beginner’s how-to, and perfect for me at this point in my beekeeping career (or lack thereof).
The Magic School Bus: Inside a Beehive
I love The Magic School Bus children’s books, so when I found the beehive edition how I could I not buy it. The book is a fun ride through the hive, and seems very accurate with what I’ve learned so far. The different kinds of honey bees, nectar and pollen collection, bee dance language, pheromones, swarming, and more. There is even a bear. Every bee library should have a copy!
Green Guides: Keeping Bees
I found this 2011 book in a used bookstore and bought it because it was published in the United Kingdom. I thought it might provide a nice perspective. Authors Pam Gregory and Claire Waring put a definite British spin on the art of raising bees.
The facts in this book were especially appreciated, such as that bees maintain the brood nest at around 95F (35C). While most books break the beekeeping year into four seasons, this book has the same discussion in eight parts to cover the early and late period of each season, which I found fascinating. Lots of little advice and information that I haven’t seen elsewhere.
I enjoyed the description of National Hives and regulations for beekeepers in the UK. Even though UK-centric, the text discusses practices for different areas, including the United States.
The authors are in favor of regular chemical treatments as a matter of practice, which seems a bit excessive. I have come to see chemical treatments for bees as I see antibiotics for humans – use them when necessary but not more frequently. The repeated warnings about having a strategy for mites seems like good advice, however, which I hope to keep in mind.
The book is well written and an enjoyable read, and I am happy to have found it.
The saying “Be careful what you wish for” has an unknown history, it seems. The best discussion I found is from a Random Bits blog, which traces the phrase to a potential Goethe quote “Beware of what you wish for in youth, because you will get it in middle life.” Regardless of the origin, it appears in pop culture songs, books, and TV shows. A brief list of examples are here and a fun discussion of the concept with all sorts of examples appears on the TV Tropes site.
While I am wishing for bees, a swarm of angry insects is not my idea of fun. Perhaps I am not the careful type…. The reality may not bee what I expect, so this seemed like a fitting title for my first post of the year.