I am often asked by new beekeepers: “What books do you recommend?”
Most beekeepers eventually accumulate a library of beekeeping and bee-related books. Some of the books that I got when I first became a beekeeper continue to be among my most cherished books, even though they are decades old and out of date, there is still much useful information within them. The pests and challenges we face may have changed, but the bees themselves haven’t.
There are many different opinions when it comes to keeping bees, it is always good to have as much information as possible. Plus, what better thing to do during the winter than to sit by the wood stove catching up on your reading?
Here is a list of books I recommend:
ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture 41st edition: This is an encyclopedia of beekeeping and bee related information. 1000+ pages filled with facts and info. Not so much a “how to” book but rather a resource and reference text for everything related to bees. I started with the 1980 edition. There is a reason why this book has been a valuable part of every beekeepers library for almost 140 years.
The Backyard Beekeeper: Written by Kim Flottum, editor for the magazine Bee Culture, this is a book for the absolute beginner, interested in having a few hives in their backyard.
The Beekeepers Bible another reference text with information ranging from the history of beekeeping, through bee biology, to the practical how to of beekeeping, how to use the products of the hive, with number of recipes. This is one book that you will read and re-read.
The Beekeepers Handbook: This book was first published in 1973 and is now on its 4th edition. It is a helpful text for beginning beekeepers and covers all of the topics required to be a successful beekeeper including hive management, honey production and bee health.
Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive: this is not a beekeeping how to book, but rather an exceptionally well written book in which the author reflects from his own personal experiences about honey bees, the relationship of humans with bees and about how humans may learn from them. I enjoyed reading this and am sure you will too.
Bee-ssentials: One of Larry Connors “Essentials” series published by Wicwas press, this book is a useful field guide for new beekeepers. A quick read, many bee clubs which put on beekeeping classes for new beekeepers recommend this as the textbook for their students
Bee Sex Essentials: As usual, Larry Connor has put a wealth of info into this easy to read and easy to understand book. If you are considering raising your own queens from local survivor stock, I strongly recommend this book along with its companion Queen Rearing Essentials.
Beekeeping in Western Canada: this book was also recommended reading for the second year of the University of Montana Master Beekeeping Course. Beekeeping is hyper-local, what may work in one location may not be successful in another. This text was published by the Alberta Department of Agriculture and Forestry and has information very useful for northern beekeepers.
The Compleat Mead Maker: this is also not a “bee” book but a book about how to turn honey into the “ambrosia of the gods” or the first fermented alcoholic beverage made by humans: mead. This book is a classic. Excellent review of types of honey, basics of fermentation, various mead styles etc. If you read only one book about mead making, this should be the one.
Contemporary Queen Rearing: Laidlaw’s classic queen rearing text which was published in 1979, nonetheless the information is as useful now as it was when first published. Recommended for anyone considering queen raising on a larger or more commercial scale, though still an interesting read for backyard beekeepers intending to raise only a few queens for their own use.
The Hive and the Honey Bee: A classic which was originally published by . Langstroth in 1853, then from 1946 on, by Dadant & Sons. I still have the 1960 and 1982 editions in my library. The new 2015 edition has 29 Chapters, 44 Authors & 1057 pages. If I could have only one beekeeping book- this would be the one!
Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping: this book is the text of choice for many college level beekeeping courses. A comprehensive text which will have something for everyone including experienced and commercial beekeepers.
Honeybee Democracy: a fascinating insight into the superorganism of the hive, and how a swarm of bees makes wise decisions regarding their new home collectively and democratically. I wonder, do you think some of our politicians could learn a thing or two from the bees?
Honey in the Comb: everything you need to know about how to make comb honey including producing round sections, square sections, and cut comb. Though published in 1981, this book is still useful for beekeepers who are interested in producing other than liquid honey.
Increase Essentials: One solution to many of the problems that bees are facing is for more more beekeepers to get away from relying on purchasing stock from elsewhere, and to begin raising our own replacement bees from locally adapted stock. This book which shows you how and is yet another excellent publication from Larry Connor and Wicwas Press.
Managing Alternative Pollinators: A Handbook for Beekeepers, Growers and Conservationists There are many types of bees than only our beloved Apis mellifera. This book is a guide to rearing and managing bumble bees, mason bees, leafcutter bees and other non-honey bee species. Published by SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education). Available for free as a PDF.
Pollinator Protection: this book was also recommended reading for the second year of the University of Montana Master Beekeeping Course. A review laboratory research and field testing of insecticides and other pesticides on honey bees and other bee pollinators. I hope that you will never be faced with losses from pesticides, however, this book should be on your bookshelf just in case you ever do.
Queen Rearing Essentials: for many beekeepers, the idea of rearing queens is intimidating. But it should not be. This book takes a subject that seems complicated and puts it into terms that any beekeeper will understand. After reading this, you too will want to try your hand at raising some queens!