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The Beekeeping Handbook - A Practical Apiary Guide for the Yard, Garden, and Rooftop

I have just torn through another beekeeping book called The Beekeeping Handbook — A Practical Apiary Guide for the Yard, Garden, and Rooftop by Vivian Head. This book was released April 1, 2012 and so it is definitely hot off the press.

Vivan Head is a cook, gardener and bee enthusiast from East Sussex in the UK and she has provided an easy-to-read handbook for anyone interested in beekeeping. The book is fairly fast-paced, starting with a brief history of the honeybee and then a short anatomy lesson, then it jumps right into the basics of beekeeping by introducing tools and techniques needed to house your first colony of bees.

There is a great section of this book called “The Beekeeper’s Year” which is a great resource for beginner beekeepers. It outlines in some detail what tasks are required during each season to maintain a healthy hive. I have bookmarked every season and plan on returning to this book in the future to recap the seasonal tasks that I should be performing.

I have found Ms. Head’s system for logging hive inspections quite intriguing and may use a variation of her techniques this year. I agree that keeping an active and accurate log of your hives is very important and Head provides a breakdown of things that should be logged during each inspection.

There is quite a thorough and detailed breakdown of diseases and pests in this book. This will be an excellent resource to have available if/when problems arise in my apiary, although this particular section of the book is not quite as exciting to read as some of the other chapters like Getting your Bees and Harvesting Honey. There is even a brief section at the very end of the book devoted to rearing new queens, although I think this subject probably deserves more than a 3-page point-form breakdown. It serves more to whet your appetite than to be a complete guide to rearing queens.

At around $13CAD, this is a valuable up-to-date handbook that makes a great addition to any beekeeper’s library.

Purchase this book at

The Beekeeping Handbook: A Practical Apiary Guide for the Yard, Garden, and Rooftop
By: Vivian Head
Released April 1, 2012
Published by Fox Chapel Publishing

The first beekeeping book that I ever read (and the book that sent me down this slippery slope) is called Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper by Marina Marchese. When I first read this book, I knew nothing about beekeeping and wasn’t even sure that I had what it takes to be a beekeeper. If this sounds like you, then this book might be an ideal starting point.

Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper

Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper is an extremely detailed personal story about how the author transitioned from Creative Director at a giftware company to becoming a fulltime beekeeper and owner of Red Bee Honey. This book not only covers—in great detail—the basics of starting and caring for a hive of bees, but it is also shares the anecdotes of a beekeeper who is just starting out and learning things along the way (often the hard way).

I found that this book was jam packed full of useful and interesting facts and while I was reading it, I often found myself regurgitating random facts about bees to my wife: “Did you know that bees can …”

Even after reading several other beekeeping books, I still find that this book covers many topics not often covered elsewhere. The last third of this book is devoted specifically to subjects you won’t find in many other books such as tasting and evaluating honey, apitherapy, styles and varieties of honey and even a reference chart for deciphering a honey label in 4 different languages. The one thing this book is lacking however, is an index, so don’t expect to be able to use it as a quick reference without flipping through 256 pages.

The fact that this book is written as a story, and not simply a step-by-step guide to beekeeping, makes it quite enjoyable to read and I found it quite inspiring to hear about Marina’s adventures as she experienced bees and beekeeping for the first time. It is one thing to hear an expert tell you how you should do things and another thing to hear an expert describing what it’s like the first time she visited a hive and the mistakes she made along the way. I should also note that this book is full of excellent diagrams and illustrations by Elara Tanguy. The highly-detailed illustrations may not be as clear as photographs (although almost) but they suit the style of the book very well and were an excellent choice.

I highly recommend this book to anyone even remotely interested in bees or honey. It would make an excellent gift for any beginner or aspiring beekeeper.

Purchase this book at

Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper
By: C. Marina Marchese

A photo of the book on a desk

My most recent book was not necessarily one that I would have picked up if I saw it on the bookstore shelf, however, I received it as a gift from my aunt for Christmas, so I gave it a whirl. To my surprise, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping was one of the more informative beekeeping books I’ve read thus far, and I definitely learned a thing or two. Read the rest of this entry »