The most helpful beekeeping books for beginner backyard beekeepers

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on reddit
Share on email
Share on print

I sometimes buy books just because they look nice. I might flick through them every once in a while, but they mainly just sit there and look pretty. The following beekeeping books aren’t the ‘sit and look pretty’ type, although some, The Beekeeper’s Bible in particular, looks stunning.

  1. The Beekeeper’s Bible – Richard Jones
  2. Beekeeping for Beginners – Amber Bradshaw
  3. Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping – Dewey M. Caron
  4. Beekeeping for Dummies – Howland Blackiston
  5. The Backyard Beekeeper – Kim Flottum
  6. Top-Bar Beekeeping – Organic Practices – Lew Crowder and Heather Harrell

The best beekeeping books will be available in ebook format too and they are usually cheaper, but I much prefer the paper version. There’s something about flicking through pages, having the info in print, feeling the paper on your finger tips! It’s much easier to find the information you need too, with good tables of content and chapter outlay.

The beekeeping books that made it to my #1 and #2 really share the first position. The difference between these too is their in-depthness. If you are looking for a quick-start guide, a no-nonsense intro to dive straight into beekeeping with practical information, #2, Beekeeping for Beginners, is your book.

If you are looking for more information, including the history of beekeeping and bee biology, The Beekeeper’s Bible is your book. In the end, a combination of the two is probably the best approach, but have a read of my most helpful,  best beekeeping books and let me know what you decide!

best-beekeeping-books-backyard-beekeepers

1. The Beekeeper’s Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses

Author

Richard Jones

Pages

416

About the Author

This author is a contributor and scientific advisor for BBC Wildlife Magazine and New Scientist. He is an ecologist and expert on insects and has written other books on that subject, including Mosquito and Wasp.

About This Beekeeping Book

The Beekeeper’s Bible ranks #2 in Amazon’s Best Sellers Rank in Biology of Insects & Spiders and #4 in Animal Husbandry (books), and for good reason. Not only is it a fantastic resource for everything beekeeping, it is also stunningly beautiful. I adore hardcover books, and this book has a particularly nicely illustrated hardcover.

This book doesn’t just cover beekeeping essentials, it also covers the history of beekeeping and recipes for cooking, candles, furniture polish, and beauty products.

Topics

  • Managing your hives
  • Harvesting.
  • Recipes for honey, beeswax, soap, and other bee products.
  • The benefits of bees.
  • History of beekeeping
  • Bee breeds and types
  • Types of hives
  • Understanding the honey bee

Pros

  • More than 100 recipes are included, not just for food, but also furniture polish, candles, and beauty products.
  • The stunning illustrations alone make this book worth its price.
  • Excellent photo’s showing you how to do things.
  • Beautiful, excellent quality hardcover.
  • This book offers an incredible amount of information on bees and beekeeping, including breeds and different hives.
  • An excellent gift as it is beautiful and interesting at the same time, even for people not thinking of keeping bees at the moment.

Cons

  • Does not cover beginner basics as thoroughly as Beekeeping for Dummies, for example. These two together would provide you with a great combination.
  • Covers a lots of history on beekeeping and bee biology, which may not be what you are looking for if you are just starting out and need to know the absolute basics.
  • Formatting and table of contents of the book is a little confusing and can make it a bit hard to find what you need.
  • There may be too much information in this book, and too big a range of subjects, making it difficult for some to read the whole thing.
  • As with some of the other beekeeping books I reviewed, this one also barely covers top-bar hives, nor natural beekeeping methods, favouring conventional beekeeping methods. As more and more of us are interested in natural methods of animal raising, this is a lacking subject.

Check Price on Amazon

2. Beekeeping for Beginners: How To Raise Your First Bee Colonies

Author:

Amber Bradshaw

Pages:

178

About the Author

Amber Bradshaw runs myhomesteadlife.com, a blog covering off-grid living, beekeeping, and growing your own food. She lives in the mountains of Tennessee and is a natural, toxin-free beekeeper.

About the Book

This book made it to my number 2 position because it is such an exceptionally helpful, step-by-step guide on the fundamentals of beekeeping. It walks you through all the processes, from choosing the right hive to helping bees survive winter.

It didn’t make it to number 1 mainly because it doesn’t provide the same background information as the Beekeeper’s Bible. If you’re just wanting to jump right in and start your hive, this would be your number 1 pick.

Topics

  • Choosing the right hive.
  • What to do when your bees arrive.
  • How to help bees survive winter.
  • Harvesting honey.
  • Bee terminology.
  • The necessities of keeping bees.
  • Equipment needed.
  • Maintaining healthy hives.
  • Information on ‘to buy or DIY’ and the equipment you really need vs. equipment that’s optional.

Pros

  • Exceptional guide for beginner beekeepers, this book is the easiest to follow from all the beekeeping books reviewed today.
  • Includes sections throughout the book with explanations of bee terminology.
  • Well written in engaging, humorous style and very easy to understand.
  • Nicely organised with page number references so it’s easy to find answers to your questions.
  • Right amount of detail without being tedious or giving too much information.
  • Includes natural beekeeping methods.

Cons

  • This book is aimed at beginner beekeepers. If you’re looking for an advanced book or more on the history of beekeeping and things like that, you’ll need to look at the Beekeeper’s Bible or other beekeeping books.
  • Not much information on bee products or selling and marketing bee products.
  • Too big for a pocket book to take with you, although there is enough white space to make it small enough to be one.
  • It has lots of pictures and drawings throughout the book, but it could still do with more.

Check Price on Amazon

3. Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping

Author:

Dewey M. Caron

Pages:

368

About the Author

You’re in good hands with Dr. Dewey M. Caron! Dr. Caron has a Ph.D. of Entomology, M.S. in Ecology, and B.A. in Zoology. He has been a professor at the University of Delaware since 1981, and teaches subjects like wildlife conservation, apology and apiculture, apiculture laboratory, and elements of entomology.

He is a former chairman of the Board of Eastern Apiculture Society, adjunct advisor to the Delaware Beekeepers Association, and editor at Newsy Bee and BeeAware Newsletter.

About the Book

This is another beautiful beekeeping book, with stunning illustrations on the cover, and a hardcover as well! This is a textbook on apiculture, used for teaching students the science and practical components of bees and beekeeping. It suits people without prior knowledge, but doesn’t oversimplify the information, giving you excellent, ultra in-depth information.

This is more of a university text book, an academic approach to beekeeping, but it is probably the most complete. If you are only purchasing one book, this may well be the one for you.

Topics

  • Bee biology
  • Bee physiology
  • Bee behavior
  • Colony management
  • Foraging behavior

Pros

  • 100’s of color photo’s and illustrations throughout the book.
  • Very in-depth for those serious about becoming the best beekeeper they can be.
  • Well edited and organised.
  • Easy to read and engaging.
  • Full of education that other books don’t contain.
  • Hardcover.
  • Extremely well researched, as you would expect from an author like this.
  • Combines science with practical experience.

Cons

  • Although it combines science with practical elements, this book is more academically focused than the other books covered here. If you prefer a more down-to-earth read, I recommend Amber’s book, Beekeeping for Beginners.
  • It is quite a technical book, geared towards dedicated students of beekeeping. You’ll learn a lot from this book, but it’s no ‘basic beekeeping’ book.
  • The print is not the highest quality. It looks a bit like it’s photocopied and pictures aren’t glossy.
  • Only one chapter is focused on bee anatomy. If you want to fully dissect bees, this is not the book for you.
  • It is quite pricey.

Check Price on Amazon

4. Beekeeping for Dummies

Author

Howland Blackiston

Pages

480

About the Author

Howland Blackiston has been a beekeeper since 1981 and has written numerous articles and books on the subject. He has been on many TV shows, including The Discovery Channel and is the president of the Backyard Beekeepers Association.

His books include Beekeeping for Dummies and Building Beehives for Dummies.

About This Beekeeping Book

This book explains everything you need to know to become a backyard beekeeper. It’s suitable for beginner backyard beekeepers especially, as it gives in-depth, thorough information right from the very basics of beekeeping to harvesting your honey and selling it. Beekeeping for dummies ranks #3 in Amazon’s Best Sellers Rank in Animal Husbandry.

This beekeeping book aims to demystify the beekeeping process and is a hands-on guide with helpful tricks.

Topics

  • Starting your own colony.
  • Assembling, maintaining, and setting up beehives.
  • Honey production.
  • The best beekeeping tools.
  • Identifying the queen bee, bee behavior, and the types of bees.
  • Opening and closing the hive.
  • Types of honey and how to tell them apart.
  • Disaster management for preserving your colony of bees, including pest control prevention and treatment.
  • Harvesting and selling honey.

Pros

  • Mostly focuses on the basics of beekeeping, but it covers those basics thoroughly.
  • Well-written and information is presented clearly.
  • Great pictures.
  • Suitable for people who are completely new to beekeeping.
  • It has a great table of contents, making it easy to find what you need.
  • Offers practical insights from a man who has been a backyard beekeeper himself for many, many years.

Cons

  • This book may not be in-depth enough for experienced beekeepers, or beginners who want to dive deeper into beekeeping information. You will need additional books.
  • Many pages cover marketing of bee products. If you’re beekeeping for yourself, these pages are not overly valuable.
  • This book focuses mainly on Langstroth hives. It does have some information on other types of hives, but focus is definitely on Langstroth.
  • Rather big to use as a pocket handbook or take with you.
  • A petty concern but, as mentioned by many other readers, ‘for dummies’ is not an encouraging title. No one wants to be called a dummy…

Check Price on Amazon

5. The Backyard Beekeeper – An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden

Author

Kim Flottum

Pages

240

About the Author

Kim Flottum has a degree in horticulture and worked at the USDA Honey Bee Research Lab for 4 years. He has over 30 years experience in writing articles about beekeeping, published in Bee Culture and BEEKeeping. Flottum has published several books on beekeeping, including The Beekeepers Journal (an illustrated journal for your beekeeping adventures), Honey Connoisseur, and The New Starting Right With Bees.

About This Beekeeping Book

This is the 4th edition of The Backyard Beekeeper, and the new edition includes information on keeping bees in urban areas and backyards, better pest management, and new ways of keeping your hives healthy. It is a comprehensive introduction to getting started with backyard beekeeping and includes photo’s and illustrations for clear information.

Topics

  • Caring for your bees.
  • Choosing the best position for your hives.
  • Top-bar hives.
  • Harvesting honey and other bee products.
  • Problems and solutions, including pest management.
  • Step-by-step explanations of what to do when you get your bees.
  • Urban beekeeping.
  • Using smokers and other beekeeping tools.
  • What to feed your bees.
  • Bee behavior and colonies.

Pros

  • Lots of pictures and illustrations keep the book interesting and informative. There are pictures of the queen bee and how to identify her, and pictures of the different types of beekeeping tools and equipment.
  • Practical information from someone who has been involved in beekeeping for over 30 years.
  • Good guide for someone who is just getting started.
  • This book is used in many beginner beekeeping classes around the country.
  • Well organized and easy to find the information you need.

Cons

  • Could do with some more photo’s of how to extract honey and some of the other processes.
  • Small print, so you may need glasses to read it comfortably.
  • Some recipes for beeswax and honey are included, but not many. You’d do well to buy a different book with recipes if you need those.
  • This book won’t be enough if you like to dive deep into beekeeping.
  • Author has a strong opinion on certain things, like the size of your hives, and he tends to make his opinion very strongly. It would be a good idea to read other books for other opinions on beekeeping.
  • Does not cover holistic approaches to beekeeping, so you’ll need to purchase a seperate Natural Beekeeping book for that subject.

Check Price on Amazon

6. Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health

Authors

Les Crowder and Heather Harrell

Pages

192

About the Authors

Les Crowder is dedicated to treating bee problems with organic and natural solutions, and has devoted his life to the study of honeybees. He designed his own top-bar hive, served as the honeybee inspector of New Mexico, as well as the president of the New Mexico Beekeepers Association.

Heather Harrell obtained a masters degree in Eastern Classics, before becoming an organic farmer. Through working with bees, she moved focus to permaculture planting, growing a wide range of vegetables and herbs that offer nectar and pollen.

About the Book

This beekeeping book focuses on the top-bar hive. Top-bar hives resemble a hollow log, and they allow bees to build honeycomb naturally, rather than using the remade foundation frames in other hives. They might harvest a bit less honey, but you’ll get more beeswax in return.

You’ll learn about top-bar hive management, with information coming from a natural, low-stress aspect. It has a lot of information on a natural and organic approach to beekeeping.

Topics

  • Bee breeding
  • Keeping a hive
  • Bee capture
  • Bee selection
  • Honey processing
  • Queen rearing
  • Top-bar hive management

Pros

  • Includes stories about the author’s successes and failures, for you to learn from.
  • Lots of diagrams, illustrations, and pictures for everything from the design of the hive and bar rotations, to good plants for pollination.
  • Strong focus on organic beekeeping.
  • Easy to understand and logical.
  • Great book for a minimalist approach to beekeeping, on a low budget.
  • In-depth without information overload.

Cons

  • This is not a complete guide for the beginner beekeeper, so you’ll want additional books to complement it. It focuses on top-bar hives, so if you are interested in other hives, this is not the book for you, unless you are interested in a comparison between the two.
  • Not as many how to’s as some of the other books.
  • Its focus is a lot on chemical-free beekeeping, and some readers mentioned they would like to see more information on top-bar hives in particular.
  • Other readers mentioned that the information contained in this book can be deceptive for the beginner beekeeper, as similar chemical-free approaches can be taken to langstroth hives. The drawbacks that the author mentions about langstroth hives come from a commercial perspective, and you can apply organic practices to Langstroth hives as much as top-bar hives.
  • May contain too much info for people just wanting basic beekeeping info. There is a lot of in-depth information on things like breeding queens, but not enough on top-bar hives specifically.

Check Price on Amazon

I hope you enjoyed this review of my favorite beekeeping books! Let me know which one you chose, and what you thought of it. You can never have just one book, and you might find some gems here to add to your collection!

Dan-Elle-Meager-Outdoor-Happens-Self-Sufficient-Backyard-HomesteadsAffiliate Disclosure

Outdoor Happens is an affiliate with Amazon and some other great companies we believe in. This article may contain affiliate links. When you click on one of our links, we earn a small commission on the sale. This is free for you and helps us keep this site an awesome, free resource! Thanks for supporting Outdoor Happens! Dan & Elle

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on reddit
Share on print
Share on email

More Outdoor!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Love the Outdoors?

Get the best outdoor articles straight to your inbox!