The beekeeping information available on the web is detailed and thorough. Virtually anything you can wish to learn about beekeeping is out there, on some website, somewhere! But many of us here retain an enjoyment of the tactile turning of physical pages when reading a good book.
So what books stand out as the best of paper-based options? We are going to take a look at some of the better books here*. These range considerably in their depth and their target audience but, having seen all of these, we can say these are all excellent books.
We have divided our list into the two following sections:
- The Classics: Five books almost every beekeeper knows – and many have on their bookshelf
- Honorary Mentions: The best of the rest. Really great reads, covering a wide range of beekeeping topics.
We hope you enjoy our list.
A beautifully illustrated and detailed book covering a wide range of beekeeping topics, including – but going well beyond – beekeeping. Starts with the historical record of bees and beekeeping. The middle sections are about life in the colony and the practicalities of beekeeping. The details of how honey, beeswax and other products are harvested are covered, while the final section offers a delightful range of honey-based recipes and a discussion of home crafts. A glorious book and highly recommended.
The subtitle “An Absolute Beginners Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden” tells the story. A highly practical, well-illustrated book from one of the leading names in beekeeping. Starts from the very beginning and takes a structured path through the details of beekeeping, written in a pragmatic and down-to-earth manner. Ends with “25 Rules of Modern Beekeeping”, which is fascinating reading on its own. An excellent book for the beginner.
Want strong opinions? Michael Bush is your man! Considered by many to be the principle voice for Natural Beekeeping today, Michael is a vocal and very well-informed advocate for the hands-off approach. This book (along with Part 2 and Part 3, which form the rest of the series) is something of a classic. Ask the most experienced about how to get up to speed on Natural Beekeeping and they will suggest you start here.
This gloriously written book reaches far beyond the beekeeping world. The subject matter is the seemingly brief topic of what happens when bees swarm. On first picking up this book, many people wonder how a 280-page book can find so much to write about! Then they start reading and find some astonishing secrets about swarms. Very well researched and with a heavy scientific perspective, this book will open your eyes to the ever-surprising world of the bee.
Every book list has a “Dummies….” book, right? Well, there’s a reason for that. If you are looking for an easy, fun read then look no further than this book. Following the now familiar Dummies style and the obligatory humorous perspective on virtually every page, this is actually a good and quite detailed read. If you like to stay on the lighter side of reading but still wish to learn well, this is an excellent choice.
Another detailed but easy read, The Bee Book is a very well illustrated book, but this time with a heavy use of images and schematic diagrams. While this book has good coverage of beekeeping itself, a significant number of pages are given to topics like attracting bees in the first place and planting of appropriate flowers to extend the honey flow. An excellent “coffee table” book for the beekeeper.
We have said many times that bees challenge us as beekeepers. This book has 100 specific challenges they might throw our way, from “My bee gloves make hive work difficult” to “I don’t know where to look for the queen” – and 98 others. Each question has a detailed answer, but also information supporting the “solution”. A highly practical and effective “cause and effect”-type book.
Did we say “coffee table book”? Well, this one takes the prize. Some glorious photographs adorn this beautiful book, which documents hundreds of species of bees in North America. For every bee covered there is a wealth of information. One of the best reference-oriented books you will find related to bees. If you ever want to expand the discussion of bees beyond the honey bee and the bumble bee, this is the book for you!
Now in its 41st edition, this book is something of classic. A dry but extremely detailed book, the book covers a very broad range of topics – from A to Z, so to speak. With over 900 pages and more than 1000 photos, there is an encyclopedic feel to this book. A staple of many a beekeeper’s library.
A book which balances the traditional practicalities of beekeeping with a vivid and heartfelt passion for bees. While many books follow a somewhat predictable pattern in how they present beekeeping – a mechanical set of step-by-step instructions – this book differs by mixing in a healthy dose of the emotional and thoughtful sides of beekeeping. If you are looking for a book that deviates from the norm and relays the emotional aspects of beekeeping then this is a very good choice.
From the same author as HoneyBee Democracy (Thomas D. Seeley), this is another heartfelt, beautifully written book. Bee hunting is a largely lost art nowadays and is about locating bees in the wild, purely for the joy of experiencing this amazing creature in its natural setting. The book returns the reader to a more simple life and experiences nature in closeup. The author’s love for bees shines through on every page and this is a wonderful book to reflect on a pastime that has almost – but not quite – gone for good.
* In the interests of full transparency, the links to these books generate a small commission for PerfectBee if you choose to purchase any of these books – at no cost to you. This helps is keep the lights on so we can continue to bring PerfectBee content to you.