Review: Keeping Bees with Ashley English
It all started with candles. I started making my own candles, and quickly realized that I preferred beeswax to paraffin. The color, the smell -- working with beeswax was relaxing, and my candles were perfect.
Then I started making my own beauty products: lip balms, salves, solid perfumes. Again, beeswax was the perfect choice for all of these items. I bought beeswax at farmer's markets and on Etsy, but a thought keeps buzzing through my head: I need my own bees.
I am solidly in the information-gathering phase of my beekeeping journey right now. I've ordered and dogeared beekeeping catalogs, and my bookshelves now bear the weight of several beekeeping books. Keeping Bees with Ashley English is one of my favorites.
Keeping Bees is part of English's "Homemade Living" series with Lark Crafts press. I've found the series overall to be immensely helpful and informative, and Keeping Bees is no exception.
Book geek that I am, I need to address the physical appearance of the book first. In a word, it is beautiful. Nice quality of paper, full-color, large photos, and informative drawings fill this book. There are also sidebars full of useful information: profiles of beekeepers, recipes, tips, and lists relevant to each chapter.
Keeping Bees covers all of the major questions novice beekeepers ask. Topics covered in the book include:
- Understanding Bees (honeybee anatomy, hive hierarchy, hive terminology)
- What to Consider (location, financial concerns, laws, neighbors, pets, allergies)
- Housing (hive components and how to set one up)
- Feeding Bees
- Essential Equipment
- Obtaining Bees (obtaining and installing a package of bees, swarming)
- A Look Inside (opening and inspecting your hive)
- A Year of Bees (seasonal tasks and things to watch out for)
- Health & Wellness (diseases, pests, and predators)
- Honey (harvesting, extracting, and storing)
- Honey Recipes
One of the things I really appreciate about this book (as well as the others in English's "Homemade Living" series) is that each major topic, such as installing your bees, setting up your hive, and inspecting a hive, is accompanied by plenty of large, clear, step-by-step photos. It's one thing to read about a process; it's fully another to see exactly what you can expect.
The profiles of beekeepers scattered throughout the book are also a nice feature. They make it clear that beekeepers can be found just about anywhere, from an urban rooftop to acreage in the country. These sidebars also offer plenty of wisdom from experienced beekeepers -- just the type of thing that is helpful to a novice beekeeper.
Even if you're not quite ready to get a hive, you're sure to gain plenty of knowledge from this book. And, if nothing else, it will give you plenty of opportunities to dream of the day when you'll have your own bees.
I highly recommend Keeping Bees with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Tend Hives, Harvest Honey & More to anyone who is considering keeping bees. It gives you a good idea of what to expect, so you can decide if you want to take the next step toward beekeeping.