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)