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Book Review: "Keeping Bees and Making Honey"

About "Keeping Bees and Making Honey"

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review of Keeping Bees and Making Honey

Keeping Bees and Making Honey by Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum provides readers with a wonderful introduction to beekeeping. Full of colorful, detailed photos and solid advice, this would be an excellent book to add to your library.

Review: "Keeping Bees and Making Honey"

This is a thin book, but don't let that fool you. Keeping Bees and Making Honey is loaded with information. People who already have experience with keeping bees won't have much use for this book, but for the novice, or for someone who is just thinking about setting up a hive, this is a great place to start.

The large color photographs are a major feature of this book. Among my favorites is a large, labelled photo of a bee, pointing out and explaining the different parts of bee anatomy. I learned more about the physiology of bees from this one page than I have through reading countless articles and books; it's just so well done. There are step-by-step photos of how to set up a hive, what a swarm looks like, how to harvest honey, and what the various beekeeping tools look like. If you are a visual person, you will really enjoy this book.

Keeping Bees and Making Honey touches on a wide range of topics:

  • Understanding Bees (history, bee species, the caste system, anatomy of a honey bee, the birth cycle, the life cycle)
  • What To Consider (space, children, routine)
  • Housing Your Bees (how a hive works, different types of hives, hive components)
  • What You'll Need
  • Where and When to Get Your Bees
  • Making Your Bees Feel at Home (transferring bees, pollen, adding supers)
  • Gardening for Bees
  • All About Honey (how bees make honey, how much honey, how to harvest honey, how to jar honey, how to show honey, selling your honey, honey in folklore)
  • Bees in Winter
  • Second Year (the start of the second year, swarming)
  • Bee Products (beeswax, beeswax candles, cosmetics, recipes)
  • Health and Care

As you can see, it covers quite a lot of information for a book of its size (128 pages, counting the index). It is well-written. There is one mistake that stuck out -- the British authors called the state of Utah part of "the American Midwest." We won't fault them for that, though. It is kind of in the middle of the west, if you think about it.

I really enjoyed Keeping Bees and Making Honey, and still leaf through it often, dreaming of having my own hive one of these days.

Quotes from "Keeping Bees and Making Honey"

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Keeping Bees and Making Honey

  • "Humans have revered bees for centuries. Not only did they supply us with one of the first natural sweeteners, versatile medicines and precious commodities, but the workings of the hive and its residents' industrious behaviour have provided endless fascination as well as countless lessons."
  • "We give the queen bee a royal title, but in fact she has no real powers over the colony. She doesn't rule or command them, but without her the colony would die."
  • "The duties that a worker bee carries out throughout her life change with age and physical maturity. A newly emerged bee is not fully developed -- her sting and wax glands, for example, have yet to mature."
  • "Culinary herbs and fruit trees are bee-friendly, and many wildflowers often regarded as troublesome weeds provide a rich source of food. Leaving a patch of your garden to run wild can bring much pleasure to your bees and be a welcome habitat for other creatures."


I highly recommend Keeping Bees and Making Honey for any someday or novice beekeeper who wants to learn more about the ins and outs of keeping bees. There are certainly more detailed books out there, but this one gives the reader a good idea of what to expect.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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