Books for Beekeepers

There was a discussion on a Facebook group yesterday about beekeeping guides. A newbee was looking for a recommendation for “the best” one.

I wish I could say that this book or that one is the best one ever and there’s no need for any others. Unfortunately, I can’t. Such a guide doesn’t exist.

However, it’s easy to make a recommendation: read anything that you can get your hands on. 🙂 It sounds flippant, but it’s true. It doesn’t matter who’s written it. It doesn’t matter the audience that it’s aimed at. You can learn something from any book that you lay your hands on. You might find a technique for queen-rearing that you’d never heard of or some way to manage the brood chamber that you’d like to try. You might come away knowing that you don’t want to do something the way you’ve read about. You will learn something.

Start at the local library. I just checked and the Kingston Frontenac Public Library has 22 titles ranging from kid’s books (This is Daniel Cook Making Honey) to Phil Chandler’s The Barefoot Beekeeper and Cristy Hemenway’s The Thinking Beekeeper, all free for the taking. 🙂 Your taxes pay for your local public library system, make sure you get some good value for your money.

I also use a site called GoodReads to keep track of what I’ve read and what I still want to read. I’ve only got 13 titles on my beekeeping “shelf”, and only a few of them are beekeeping “guides”, but I’ve learned a lot from every single one.

Something else to keep in mind: don’t get caught in the trap of thinking, because it’s old or out of date, that it doesn’t have anything useful to offer. I have a 1947 edition of AI Root’s The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture that’s invaluable. Because it was written long before varroa and some other plagues came upon the scene, it concentrates entirely on technique and information instead of diseases and treatments.

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