Archives for category: Reviews

The Healing Powers of HoneyI have had this book on the go for several months now and I’ve found it very useful and informative. It’s a great book to have lying around and pick up from time to time to read a few interesting facts about honey. The Healing Powers Of Honey is a book full of little tidbits of information about honey gathered from all over the world as well as recipes and cures for all sorts of ailments.

Author Cal Orey (get it?) has written other “healing power” books including The Healing Powers of Vinegar, The Healing Powers of Olive Oil and The Healing Powers of Chocolate so she definitely has a healthy background in… well… health.

For any beekeepers, aspiring beekeepers or simply general honey lovers, this book is a great resource to have on hand. Orey discusses many of the scientific benefits of honey and applies them to just about any ailment, injury or illness you can think of. When in doubt, turn to honey.

What gives honey its amazing healing powers? It comes down to antioxidants, acidity and hydrogen peroxide. Different styles of honey are derived from different plants and flowers and this book details many of them. I was particularly interested in reading about Manuka honey, a New Zealand honey which has extraordinary healing powers and even combats some antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

Most readers will find Orey’s narrative and anecdotal style of writing enjoyable and easy to read, however I must admit that I found the honeybee puns and analogies a bit over the top at times.

Overall, this is a great reference book and one that will get lots of use over the years. I’ve bookmarked many of the pages and will be sure to pick up this book for its recipes, home remedies and honey factoids in the future.

The Healing Powers Of Honey
By: Cal Orey
Published Oct 2011
Kensington Publishing Corporation

The Barefoot Beekeeper by Phil ChandlerI’m barely half way through this season of beekeeping and I’m already anxious to start a new season next spring. The reason for my overzealous anticipation is because I just finished reading The Barefoot Beekeeper by Philip Chandler and now I want to spend my winter building top bar hives and preparing to catch spring swarms.

Phil Chandler is one of the topmost authorities on top bar hives and intervention-free, natural beekeeping in the world today. His book, The Barefoot Beekeeper, is one of the best resources available for anyone interested in this type of beekeeping and it contains oodles of information to help you start a top bar colony of your very own.

The book begins with a brief history of the honeybee and then The Barefoot Beekeeper highlights several different problems affecting bees today and clearly links these problems to human practices of the last 150 years. Many of these problems started occurring with the invention of removable frames and the Langstroth beehive. Since then, commercial beekeeping has exploded and it has severely impacted honeybee health and overall population.

Chandler becomes more positive in the next few chapters by explaining ways to help the bees using a more natural approach to beekeeping and keeping bees for the sake of keeping bees rather than purely for profit. He focuses mainly on the top bar hive — a style of beehive which more closely mimics the honeybee’s natural habitat.

While the book does not give complete instructions for building a top bar hive, Chandler does urge reader’s to visit his web site,, for detailed top bar hive plans, completely for free.

If you are like me, and either keep bees as a hobby, or would like to keep bees for the sake of keeping bees, then The Barefoot Beekeeper is definitely a book that you should pick up today. Stayed tuned for my own adventures this winter as I build my own top bar hive and then next spring when I capture a swarm of bees to live in it. Thanks Mr. Chandler.

Purchase this book at Amazon:
The Barefoot Beekeeper
By: Phil Chandler
3rd Edition
May 2009

Cover of the Travelling Beehive

The Travelling Beehive is a stunningly beautiful book about beekeeping that I had the pleasure of reading last week. The book was originally written in Spanish by Elena Garcia and Manuel Ángel Rosado and is illustrated by Juan Hernaz. At this time, there is no English print version available, however, the electronic version is available for free!

The Travelling Beehive is geared towards school-aged children but would be great for anyone (child or not) curious about bees. It explains beekeeping in a very accurate and entertaining way. It also does an excellent job of describing pollination and some of the problems that are affecting honeybees and other pollinators in the world today. There’s even a free Teacher’s Guide available which will help to introduce this book to classrooms around the world. I have included a gallery below of some of the illustrations which are truly the bee’s knees. (Yes, I went there.)

I must admit, I did find a few spelling mistakes in the current edition of this book, but overall it is very well translated from Spanish. The Spanish print version will be distributed to schools and libraries in Spain this fall. Hopefully one day the English print version will also make its way to North America. In the meantime, here are links to the ways you can read the electronic version of the book.

Note: It’s a bit tricky to read the full-width online version as the pages are very wide and the text very small. I found it easiest to download the PDF version and read on my iPad.

Read electronic versions for free

For teachers interested in the Teacher’s Guide

The cover of the book, Keeping Bees

This review is long overdue, and in fact, it’s been about 6 months since I first read this book. Keeping Bees by Ashley English is one of my top recommendations when it comes to beekeeping books. The book — part of the Homemade Living series — has the tagline “All you need to know to tend hives, harvest honey & more” which is a fairly bold statement, but for the beginning beekeeper, this may actually hold true.

This book covers all the basics of beekeeping, and explains concepts such as obtaining bees, inspections, pests and diseases, honey harvesting and even has a few recipes at the end. In terms of photography and visual diagrams, there is no better book out there. This book has beautiful full-colour photos that accompany nearly every page. This imagery is quite helpful if you’re a visual learner, like me. There are some concepts that English introduces in the book that would be nearly impossible to visualize if not for the photos throughout. For example: using a Ziploc bag as a plastic bag feeder directly on top of the frames within a hive. (See? You’ll have to buy the book in order to see what I’m talking about.)

Beginners will enjoy English’s thorough breakdown of even the most simple tasks in beekeeping such as opening your hive. If you have any beekeeping experience though, you may find yourself wanting to skip some sections of the book as they are obviously intended for the absolute beginner.

Throughout the book, there are sidebar profiles of different beekeepers. Each “Profile of a Beekeeper” introduces a beekeeper and gives a short story about their interactions with bees. It’s quite interesting to see all the different types of people that keep bees, and you may find yourself aligning to one or more of them. The best thing you can do as a beekeeper is to continue learning and interacting with others. Reading about other beekeepers allows you to explore new ways of beekeeping yourself.

Overall, I highly recommend this book for any beekeepers, new and old. As I’ve mentioned above, this is an excellent book for beginners, but it also caters to experienced beekeepers with its innovative techniques and interesting explanations that you may have missed over the years. There are also helpful checklists for every season of the year, which I have personally bookmarked to review before doing hive inspections.

Purchase this book at Amazon:

Keeping Bees with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Tend Hives, Harvest Honey & More
Published by: Lark Crafts (Mar 1 2011)

Queen of the Sun DVD cover

My wife and I recently watched a documentary film called Queen of the Sun: What are the bees telling us? This film is so inspiring and informative and I believe everyone should sit down and watch it… tonight. Here is my personal review of Queen of the Sun.

I will start my review by saying: “Watch this film.” Even if you don’t read this entire article, jot down the name of the movie and go watch it. Even if you’re not a beekeeper, go watch this film. Even if you have never heard about Colony Collapse Disorder, Varroa mites or other ailments affecting bees across the globe, go watch this film. You will not regret it.

Queen of the Sun is an extremely powerful documentary that highlights the importance of bees for pollination throughout the world as well as the potential factors that are leading to the disappearance of these same bees.

This film doesn’t focus too much on any single factor that may be contributing to colony collapse disorder but rather presents the viewer with an array of ways that humans have interfered with these wonderful creatures that we rely on for producing 1/3 of all the food that we eat.

Throughout the film, there are also some great interviews with beekeepers from around the world. It’s amazing to see beekeepers from England, Australia, France, Italy and the United States all providing their insight into a global epidemic. It’s also very interesting to see the different types of beehives that each one uses. (Check out the special features on the DVD for more information on each hive type).

At the very end of the film, there are some great tips that I wanted to share here. Here are six ways that you can do your part to help the honeybees in your area:

  1. Grow flowers, plants and herbs to help provide food for bees.
  2. Eliminate pesticides in your garden and lawn.
  3. Bees are thirsty. Provide a continuous shallow basin with clean water in your garden.
  4. Buy directly from a local beekeeper who avoids chemicals and produces raw honey.
  5. Eat organic and pesticide free food.
  6. Become a beekeeper with sustainable practices.

This documentary did not necessarily change my overall views on beekeeping, but it served to open my eyes a bit wider on the subject. I suddenly found that I have become a bit more passionate about bees when talking to others, and I tend to bring up this film frequently when involved in beekeeping conversations. This is a film that I believe everyone should watch.

Purchase the DVD from Amazon:
Queen of the Sun: What are the bees telling us?

Here’s the trailer for Queen of the Sun: What are the bees telling us?