Top 11 books every beekeeper must read

16.07.2017. 13:00

Through many years of research on bees and improvement in beehive management, a lot of data has accumulated. The acquired knowledge was written in books so it can be shared among beekeepers, and also saved for future generations. Today, all the information is widely available on the web, detailed and through. But, many still enjoy reading through the hard copy of a book. Being able to reference a book is especially an advantage if apiary doesn't have electricity.

Beekeepers should have a very good knowledge of bees and taking care of them and the hive. We learn the most by doing practical stuff, but beekeeping requires a lot of preparations and hard work to be successful. Because of that beginner beekeepers might naturally have some issues that they might not know how to solve themselves. In such situations, it is useful to have some handy book about beekeeping that could help with resolving all the issues.

Beekeepers are constantly searching for better and easier ways of doing beekeeping work which results in improvements of methods and equipment used. For that reason, even veteran beekeepers shouldn't just discard the literature and assume they know everything as they might find a new tip or trick to make their work easier.

We are going to take a look at some beekeeping books that stand out and prove to be an excellent source of information, for both beginner and veteran beekeepers.

#1 The Beekeeper's Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses

by Richard Jones, Sharon Sweeney-Lynch

The Beekeeper's Bible is a history book, handbook, and cookbook all at once. The book is beautiful inside and out.  The cover is delightfully illustrated in old fashioned style, and pages are filled with colorful photos and illustrations. The name itself, The Beekeeper's Bible, reveals that it is filled with useful information.

This illustrated book covers a wide range of topics. From a detailed history of beekeeping to the beehive management, honey harvesting and many more topics to learn, to the honey crafts and recipes. Those interested in beekeeping can find the necessary information to start with beekeeping or to improve their work.

Some beekeeping practices are well known and traditionally done by many beekeepers, even though many of them they don't know the science behind it. Reading this book can finally answer some questions that you might have and offer you a better perspective on the practices used.

But, this book would also be interesting to those who have never kept bees and don't plan to. It is written well, and many illustrations and photos can pull in everyone. Even if you are not interested in beekeeping, you can find many interesting, delicious recipes using honey. Benefits of honey are well known so this book can offer you a fun way to include it in your diet and reap the benefits.

#2 The Backyard Beekeeper

by Kim Flottum

The Backyard Beekeeper covers many beekeeping topics in narrative style, followed by beautiful illustrations. It is highly motivating, educational, and thorough. Many consider it an essential book for beginner beekeepers. Detailed explanations, interesting histories, and many pictures help you visualize the act of beekeeping. You can find information on "greening" your beekeeping with sustainable practices, and urban and suburban beekeeping. As well as choosing the best place for your bee colonies, and best non-toxic and organic ways to care for bees.

The book walks through almost every situation that arises in beekeeping. From purchasing the equipment, health issues among bees, hive invaders, which mistakes can happen and how to avoid them and much more. The book also includes detailed information on what needs to be done each season of the year for optimal results.

Using this book as a guide, you can harvest the wax and honey from the hives. And after you can reward yourself for all the hard work by preparing some delicious honey treats. The book also includes instructions on how to make candles from honey and wax, and various balms, creams, and butter.

#3 The Practical Beekeeper

by Michael Bush

The Practical Beekeeper is a great book to add to beekeeper's arsenal of reference texts. The author who provided the information has a long time experience with bees, so this book can answer almost any question that you might have.

The book teaches a natural approach to beekeeping in which minimal treatments are used, to not disturb the bees too much. According to this book, the best thing that a beekeeper can do is to pay attention to the colony and monitor their activity. But it should be done without bothering the bees, avoiding opening the hive often.

The techniques presented in the book are streamlined through many years of experiments, simplification, and adjustments. Practices taught in this book help reduce the beekeeper's work through simple, practical beekeeping. The book is divided into three volumes: Beginning. Intermediate and Advanced.

#4 Honeybee Democracy

by Thomas D. Seeley

Honeybee Democracy is richly illustrated book portraying honey bees as democratical in decision making. Every decision a colony makes is made through the process that includes collective fact-finding, vigorous debate, and consensus building.

The author, Thomas Seeley is a world-renowned animal behaviorist, and in his book, he shows us the correlation between bees and humans. Bees can teach us a lot about effective decision making and collective wisdom. The author concludes that every decision-making group should follow the ways of a bee colony. Every group should consist of individuals with shared interests, and mutual respect, leader's influence should be minimized, and the decision should depend on the majority.

Even if you have no interest in bees, biology, or science, it is very interesting to read regardless of your interests.

#5 Beekeeping for Dummies

by Howland Blackiston

Beekeeping for Dummies is well written and easy to understand. The author, Howland Blackiston, is an experienced beekeeper and a very good teacher. If you are interested in starting beekeeping, you might find a lot of useful and well-explained information in this book.

The practices explained in the book use step-by-step approach to successfully welcome you to the world of backyard beekeeping.

The topics covered in the book range from the basics about bee anatomy and behavior to maintaining your beehive and harvesting honey.

The book also offers solutions to most common and many uncommon problems you're likely to run into. Its simplicity and well explained details of all aspects of beekeeping offer a great source of information for any beekeeper.

#6 The Beekeeper's Problem Solver

by James E. Tew

The Beekeeper's Problem Solver is a good book for beginner and intermediate beekeepers. It guides you through the 100 most common problems a beekeeper might stumble upon and offers simple solutions, along with an explanation of what might have caused the problem.

Successful beekeeping requires good groundwork and a lot of attention to some critical areas like hive management, breed choice, and health requirements. Since bees often disguise problems, it is important to be able to recognize them in early stages which this book might help you with. Detailed explanations are followed by photographs, diagrams, and many practical tips.

#7 Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health

by Les Crowder

Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health is a wonderful guide to top-bar beekeeping filled with great photos. It might find its way on shelves of many top-bar beekeepers. This book provides a lot of information on hive management and other aspects using top-bar hives. However, it might not be enough for beekeepers who are just starting with top-bar beekeeping so the additional source of information might be needed.

The top-bar beekeeping is focused on natural, low-stress methods. Compared to Langstroth box hive, top-bar beehive produces less honey but produces more beeswax. Regular inspection of the hive and removal of old combs helps to keep bees healthier and disease-free. The book explains required seasonal skillsets for top-bar success, as well as how to raise your own queens. The emphasis is on building disease resistant bees that are successful locally.

All home and hobbyist beekeepers should consider using natural, low-stress methods explained in this book. Also, the information this book offers will also appeal to home orchardists, and gardeners who look for bees for pollination.

#8 The Beekeeper's Handbook

by Diana Sammataro

The Beekeeper's Handbook contains essential information for new beekeepers, as well as veterans. It is written in common English, easy to understand, and every section is illustrated well with photos.

The explanations are followed with excellent diagrams so beekeepers can see what they need to do.

It is a great how-to book to use as a reference for all aspects of beekeeping. The book covers almost all the important problems and questions that might come up during different seasons.

The authors discuss the crisis created by the parasitic bee mites and offer some possible ways of prevention, as well as selecting and testing bees that might have some tolerance to mites.

#9 Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping

by Dewey M. Caron

Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping is well written and organized textbook with a lot of useful information on bees and beekeeping. This textbook is used in many college level introductory beekeeping courses. The instructions are followed with a lot of useful photos and drawings.

The book explains bee basics in a way meaningful to people who lack the background in biology. Concentrating on 'why', 'how' and 'when' it gives valuable information to anyone interested in beekeeping by revealing the science behind it. Teaches the reader bee biology and behavior which provides a good basis for successful beekeeping.

This book is widely considered the most complete beekeeping textbook.

#10 Building Beehives For Dummies

by Howland Blackiston

Building Beehives For Dummies is a follow-up book to the Beekeeping  For Dummies. The book provides information and tips on how to build some of the most popular hives and some accessories, how to maintain your equipment, and much more. It might prove useful for both beginner and veteran beekeepers.

Even if you have never tried carpentry you should not be discouraged. The book contains chapters that teach you the basics of carpentry skills necessary to go through all designs.

Each design includes a detailed list of materials needed, step-by-step building instructions, and illustrations that show how to fit all the components together. Also, this book provides creative ideas for dressing up beehives for fun and profit.

#11 The buzz about bees

by Jürgen Tautz


The buzz about bees is a great educational book for anyone who wants to learn more about bees themselves. It explains interesting, complex scientific topics in a way that is easy to understand, even without a scientific background. This book steps away from a typical notion of a bee as a busy self-sacrificing individual and presents it as a part of the colony, a superorganism. All individuals work for the wellbeing of the colony, as one entity with collective intelligence. Topics are followed by stunning colorful photos which beautifully capture all aspects of the life of the honeybee.

The book has already been translated into ten languages, and it could especially be a great source of information to beekeepers. The information in this book might help you to take better care of your bees. It doesn't explain how to take care of bees, but having a deeper understanding of their behavior and how they operate can be used to improve your techniques. For example, it explains that keeping the brood temperature between 34°C and 35.5°C might be beneficial to bees. Higher temperature may affect the bees in a way that it makes the bees more agile and smarter!

Never stop learning

We have mentioned many great books that might help you start with beekeeping or even just widen your knowledge. A lot of work and learning required to start beekeeping might be intimidating to some, but don't be discouraged. Everyone was once a beginner, and the only difference between a beginner and a veteran beekeeper is knowledge gained either through books, the internet or by trial and error. If you are not sure if you want to be a beekeeper, then reading a book about it might help you decide. The books we mentioned are targeted to different audiences ranging from complete amateurs to experienced beekeepers. There is something for everyone. Don't let preventable issues destroy your colony and reduce honey yield, try to learn as much as you can of bees and beekeeping.