Monica King here with my first ever book review: “Honeybee Hobbyist, The Care and Keeping of Bees.” Excitedly I pondered, how difficult could this bee? I am a third generation beekeeper reading the recommendations of a well known and highly respected researcher in our industry, Norman Gary, PhD.
Overview Good – But
As I poured through the chapters I had to stop and make notes to myself about what to warn potential Southwest beekeeping hobbyists about that do NOT apply and should NOT be implemented in beekeeping in the Southwest.
You see, living in an area with Africanized bees causes urban hobbyists to put more time, effort, and money into keeping bees than in other parts of the country. Thus, when a book for hobbyists recommends catching feral swarms and allowing a colony to rear its own queen I immediately panicked! I pushed ahead and found short mentions on Africanized Honeybees (AHB) under “Defensive Behavior”, “Stinging Behavior”, “Virgin Queen Bees”, and “Sacrificing Humanely”. WHEW! Great! A warning! Glad he included these.
“Sacrificing Humanely” got my feathers ruffled as it doesn’t mention how experienced beekeepers often requeen aggressive AHB queens. Requeening will change the hive’s genetics to the more docile European honeybee. I had to remind myself that this is a book intended for beginner beekeepers. So maybe I should review this book from a different perspective.
Dr. Gary made an excellent guide for hobbyists and bee enthusiasts with detailed and practical instructions for starting out. Basic information on anatomy, reproduction, and behavior is at a level that teaches. It teaches, yet doesn’t cause a reader to loose interest. Sting prevention strategies and tips focused on urban environments is necessary for the backyard beekeeper. Dr. Gary even has advice on using the internet in beginning beekeeping. I totally concur – about the conflicting information, vendors attempting to sell items you won’t need or can’t use and amateur beekeepers doling out advice before they have true experience or knowledge. Use the web with caution!
I especially enjoyed seeing the list of crops that are pollinated by honeybees. He reminds us that we owe two out of three bites we eat to these amazing little creatures. Dr. Gary’s chapter on “Entertaining with Bees” is a hoot! I have been looking for different ways of teaching children about bees and I cannot wait to introduce “take a drone for a fly” to my next demonstration.
So as a seasoned beekeeper did I learn anything? Yes, I did.
Would I recommend it? Highly.