Beekeeping for Beginners: How To Raise Your First Bee Colonies by Amber Bradshaw
This book turned out to be an unexpected surprise. I've read other beekeeping books geared towards beginners & haven't been thrilled with the majority of them. This slender unassuming book contains all the basics one needs to know to get started keeping bees. There is no self promotion or fluff. No bee porn. Just the facts from a backyard beekeeper who, from my understanding prefers to use more natural or organic methods vs. chemical or synthetic methods to keep her bees. However, this doesn't necessarily mean the author condones traditional methods.
The book is straightforward, clear, & concise. The author starts with the benefits of beekeeping, business opportunities, challenges & legalities. She next explains how bees behave so that you as a beekeeper have a better understanding of their needs. Chapter 3 focuses on three types of hives: Langstroth, Top Bar, & Warre. She discusses the pros & cons of each hive as well as the pros & cons of buying or building your own, along with her list of must have beekeeping tools & supplies. In Chapter 4 she focuses on the different types of bees. Just like in her chapter on the different hives, she discusses the pros & cons of the different types of bees & even helps the reader learn how to create their own honeybee haven/garden. Chapter 5 is about the big day - bringing the bees home. How to prepare for the big day, how to release them & feed them. Chapter 6 discusses what you need to do to properly inspect your hive. Chapter 7 breaks down what to expect during each season for one year. Chapter 8 is what we are all waiting for, honey! Here we learn what honey is, how it is made, how to harvest both the honey & the wax, & the equipment required. Chapter 9 is geared towards helping you keep your hive healthy. She discusses why bees get sick, how to tell when you have a sick hive, how to treat the hive, & which pests you need to watch out for. The final chapter is about the future of the newbies bees. Getting another hive (or not), swarming, & cleaning.
The end of the book lists beekeeping resources, a glossary, references, & an index.
As a small eco farmer, I really found this book to be straight forward & incredibly helpful. We have been wanting bees long before we started farming. Farming is an incredible amount of work. This is the main reason we still do not have bees after more than a decade of organic farming. The idea of taking on yet another responsibility is daunting. However, we still hope to have bees in our future (hence our desire to keep reading about beekeeping). In the meantime, we plant plenty of organic treats for our local pollinators to enjoy.
If you are thinking about getting into beekeeping, this book is well worth your time.
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