I've moved!

I've moved!

Thanks for stopping by, but it appears you are using a (very) old address for my blog. I've moved to a Wordpress site and you'll need to update your bookmarks for Bees on the Knob

I've moved!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Getting Started in Beekeeping through Books

When you search on Beekeeping at Amazon, you will get a wide variety, some very old, several very new and many in between. Some cover only a specific aspect of beekeeping, some are concerned only with "organic" practices and others that use "industry standard" practices. There are self-published books, compilations of articles and books by leading researchers in the field. In other words, the choices can be overwhelming. Although I recommend that every new beekeeper find a local club (they are in practically every state and here every county has one, with annual dues anywhere from free to $12, depending on whether they have a newsletter), a good reference book or two is also essential. Books are no substitute for hands-on-learning, but the better ones will give you a broad overview of the steps you need to take at different times of year in order to get that large honey crop (or just have enough bees to pollinate your orchard and garden). Often, also, local beekeepers are a good source of what they do, but the books will explain why it is done (and perhaps why you should not follow every local practice).

One easy to read book, unavailable when I started, is Beekeeping for Dummies and at $13.59, it's an inexpensive way to get your feet wet. It's fairly detailed and has lots of pictures, but if the cartoons and "for dummies" style isn't for you, there are several other good choices (which I'd recommend in any event). Kim Flottum has worked for the USDA Honey Bee Research Lab, written for and edited Bee Culture magazine, published books on honeybee pests and diseases, marketing, queen production, beekeeping history, beginning beekeeping, and the classic industry reference, The ABC & XYZ of Bee Culture: An Encyclopedia Pertaining to the Scientific and Practical Culture of Honey Bees. In 2005, he published The Backyard Beekeeper: An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden, also at that same $13.59 price.

Two that I started with and highly recommend are Hive Management: A Seasonal Guide for Beekeepers and Beekeeping: A Practical Guide, both by Richard E. Bonney. The approaches of the two books are different, with the former oriented around when to perform tasks, while the second is organized in a more traditional manner. There is some overlap, but both are excellent references.

Keeping Bees not only covers the basics of beekeeping, but also goes into detail on how to make the hive boxes and frames yourself. Even if you don't want to start from scratch, a basic understanding can make assembling the precut pieces a lot easier, as well as convincing you that you really should both glue and cross nail every single frame. For the more visually oriented and those who cannot find a local club or beekeeper to be a mentor, you may want to pick up Bee Keeper's Educational Series - Hive Splitting/Honey Extracting and Bottling on DVD.

If you want to stay away from using chemicals and insecticides on your bees, that doesn't mean any of the above books are less useful, just that some of the advice on what to use may not work for you, while the when and why remain pertinent. Be warned: not only is there no recognized definition of what it takes to have an organic apiary or create organic honey, many who simply discard traditional chemicals have had large losses even before the current Colony Collapse Disorder crisis amongst commercial beekeepers. There are exceptions: bees kept in areas that are considered fully africanized (Arizona and some surrounding areas) often are doing fine (but can be very temperamental, to say the least), due to the natural resistances of the smaller and fiercer africanized honeybees. Some other areas are also doing well, due to their isolation: most "wild" colonies of european honeybees have disappeared and if all their neighbors have fully treated bees, their organic bees may not be exposed to the various mites that are the reason for most chemical treatments. There is one book out there on organically caring for honeybees: Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture. Just don't be surprised if you don't find any local beekeepers following all it's methods and that you local bee inspector advises you not to follow it's advice.

And if you are not in the USA, you may find the calendar portion of many of these books simply doesn't work for you, laws are not the same or that you have country specific crops that are not included. One book geared towards those in the UK is Teach Yourself Beekeeping (Teach Yourself) and for a magazine, look to Bee Craft. The links are for those in the US; as far as I can tell, Amazon doesn't sell magazine subscriptions in the UK, nor do they have a direct link to get this book (although several third party sellers do have it). Either, however, should get you started and cover that uniquely English crop, heather, which can be quite difficult to extract.

Tomorrow: Advanced Beekeeping references.

No comments:

Post a Comment