by Laura Maigatter
Now that you’ve tucked your bees in so they may stay safe and warm throughout the winter, you can tuck yourself into some good books. You finally have the time to expand your knowledge of bees and beekeeping!
There is more written about bees than any other animal on the planet, after humans. Bee society has fascinated man from the beginnings of time, and there is a LOT of information out there. It can be hard to know where to start. Especially with our particular brand of beekeeping- top bar hive (TBH), natural beekeeping. Those are the words you should use in any search when looking for information about beekeeping, so you don’t fall into a spiral of nonsense. I kid, I kid! There are many valid approaches, but as I’m sure you know, we advocate for a return to more natural practices.
The list below, while in no way comprehensive, is an excellent place to start delving deeper into the world of bees. We’d love to hear your thoughts on these books, and any others you’ve found useful in your quest for more knowledge. Happy Reading!
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping, by Buzz Bissinger and Dean Stiglitz
It is the worst title for this book but it sells like crazy. It’s the new textbook for my classes because the authors are excellent at telling the stories while showing you in-depth step by steps. Its also one of the only mainstream bee books to focus on treatment free beekeeping practices and even talks about TBHs for more than one sentence. I really like Dean’s writing style and Ramona’s insight into bee biology.
Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health, by Les Crowder and Heather Harrell
A great book to learn about top bars from one of the early TBH beekeepers.
The Thinking Beekeeper: A Guide to Natural Beekeeping in Top Bar Hives, by Christy Hemenway
Goldstar Hives’ Hemenway made a great starter book on TBH… many good insights.
Barefoot Beekeeper, by P. J. Chandler
Chandler is arguably the granddaddy of modern TBH beekeeping. His book talks of the reasoning and methodology beyond just the step by steps.
The Bees, by Laline Paull
My new favorite fun book. The story of Flora 717 is not entirely accurate, but needs to be to make the story work. It’s such a delightful story filled with real insights that it’s okay that Laline take some creative license.
The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kid
A great book for enjoyable reading, a great tie-in to bees and beekeeping. The movie is wonderful, as well.
Understanding Bee Anatomy: A Full Color Guide, by Ian Michael Stell
This is the best book for visualizing bee biology and learning of all the inner workings of the honeybee. It can be a bit pricey and often hard to fine, but I thought it worth including for what I was able to see and learn.
The Sacred Bee in Ancient Times and Folklore, by Hilda M Ransome
It’s an okay book overall, but it is filled with interesting historical anecdotes.
Honeybee Democracy, by Tom Seeley
Seeley did a great job gleaning cooperation and decision making processes from observing the bees. They can tell us a lot about our lives, too.
Toward Saving the Honeybee, by Gunther Hauk
Hauk is such a Steiner fan and gentle, thoughtful beekeeper. This short book blends his insights with Steiner lectures from the 1920s.
The Buzz about Bees: Biology of a Superorganism, by Jürgen Tautz
This is one of the best books about bees around. The fact that it was translated six times before finally into English tells me it’s something worth reading. It does not disappoint. Great images, delightful analogies, in-depth analysis… it is a must read for me.
The Practical Beekeeper: Beekeeping Naturally, by Michael Bush
Bush is the most prolific writer of bee wisdom since words were invented. I recommend the entire Practical Beekeeper series, and any of his books are a worthy read. Michael takes a “why make it harder than it has to be” approach to tending bees, and is a fantastic source of wisdom.
Better Queens, by Jay Smith
I don’t know how good it’ll be, but it’s a book I want to read this winter.
We hope this is enough to get your brain pumping through the winter. Happy Reading!
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This post was updated on 8/14/2017