The interest in the hobby of beekeeping has grown in recent years, with many people becoming interested in the whole process of honey making and wondering how they can be a part of it! Books are a great way to learn about the hobby. Whether you are a beginning, novice, or expert apiarist, here are some of the best beekeeping books that should be on your bookshelf.
You may tell me, hey Grampa, you have all the beginner information on this website! Why do I need a beekeeping book? Simply put, it is great to have all that information wrapped up in one nice, easy-to-read package. You can put it on your coffee table and learn about beekeeping in the comfort of your own home or out in the garden. This is why the beekeeping book should still be a massive part of your beekeeper’s arsenal 🙂
During this article, simply click on the book cover images to view the recommended books over on Amazon yourself.
Book 1: The Backyard Beekeeper by Kim Flottum
I have to say that as a beekeeping enthusiast, I am a big fan of Kim Flottum. I am an avid listener to the Beekeeping Today Podcast, and one of the main reasons is because Kim is one of the hosts. You can tell straight away that Kim has a lot of experience and knowledge to share around the subject of beekeeping, and I enjoy listening to his wise words on the podcast.
Thankfully, Kim also writes books, so if you are looking for a good beekeeping book to read, surely a Kim Flottum book should be top of your shopping list 🙂 The Backyard Beekeeper is one of his most popular books, and it has become almost like a bible for anyone that wants to keep bees in their backyard. This book is perfect for anyone wanting to keep bees as a hobby rather than as a business venture.
Why should you listen to Kim? Well he has a seriously long CV when it comes to anything bee related! He has worked in a USDA honey bee research lab, has been the chairman of The Eastern Apiculture Society and president of The Ohio State Beekeepers Association. Add top this the fact Kim has been editor and contributor to some pretty big beekeeping publications and I think you can see why this guy is worth following 🙂
I would highly recommend anyone old or new to take the time to read Kim’s ‘The Backyard Beekeeper’; I know it has a permanent place in my home library and it should have the same in yours!
Book 2: Beginning Beekeeping: Everything You Need to Make Your Hive Thrive!
The problem a lot of beginner beekeeping books have is that they end up being massive tomes of information that become hard for someone starting out to work with. All those stories, anecdotes and filler content tend to get in the way somewhat.
This is why I recommend Tanya Phillips’ book around beginner beekeeping. It has some of the simplest instructions and clearest photos of any beekeeping book around. If you want a clear and concise route into the hobby, this is the place for you. Even more experienced beekeepers can find out a thing or two from a book like this, as everything is laid out so clearly.
I will give you one example as to why this book is amazing. A lot of beekeepers struggle at the start to recognize the queen bee or know what larva looks like. This book has clear photos of such things, making the thing a breeze. In this day and age, a lot of readers are inpatient and what to find out information quickly, making book formatting and layout important. This one is up there with the best for this, making it a joy to learn about beekeeping by reading it.
Book 3: Storey’s Guide to Keeping Honey Bees
This book leads of from the last as having some of the best content formatting and presentation around. Well laid out pages coupled with clear and colorful images makes this book a pleasure to read. And the information given is informative and full of knowledge bombshells that any beekeeper should read.
Even as a seasoned beekeeper, you can still pick up pearls of wisdom here. I know for a fact that knowledge of diseases such as Varroa and pests such as hive beetles is not always as clearly and concisely conveyed as in this book. This book also does a great job in going over the history of beekeeping, which helps put the modern beekeeper into context, to say the least.
One final thing I enjoyed about this book is the fact that right out of the gate, it started with some super realistic and wise beginner tips. I am sure a lot of people go into beekeeping with wide eyes and a bushy tail (so to speak). This book doesn’t mess around and quickly alerts you to the reality of beekeeping and what you should expect realistically in your first year.
Book 4: Keeping Bees with a Smile: Principles and Practice of Natural Beekeeping
I don’t know about you, but I have a growing interest in how to keep honey bees in a natural and more nature friendly way. If you do too, this book would provide a great start. Not only does it go into why you should keep bees in a natural way, but it will get you started with the main practical ways.
The formatting of this book is more like a traditional book rather than the glossy magazine style modern reference books you may be used to. But, if you can get past this, the information provided within is invaluable. The only other caveat is that this is a translated book from top beekeeping experts in Europe. Although most of the principles in this book do carry across, you may find some slight regional variations if you are based in North America.
I particularly liked the section of this book that shows you how to start your first bee colony naturally, rather than simply buying packaged bees. This would make for a much more adventurous start to your beekeeping life than simply ordering a package online 🙂 Not to mention cheaper!
If you want to keep your bees in the most natural way (rather than simply in the way that will produce most honey), this is the book for you!!
Book 5: Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health
Following on from the last book on natural beekeeping, we have this one all about organic beekeeping practices. If you have been in the beekeeping hobby or profession for any decent length of time, I am sure that you will start to look around to see how you can improve your practice. Most people use the traditional Langstroth bee hives when starting out beekeeping, so if you are looking for an alternative, this could be the book for you. This book is all about the use of the top-bar hive and how to use it to keep bees in an organic way.
Although this book won’t spell out every single piece of equipment you will need to do this, it is a great place to start and work out whether you want to start this journey with top-bar hives. Chemicals have crept into many people’s beekeeping practices over the years, mainly to control the many diseases and pests that pop up in your Langstroth hives. This book presents an alternative world where you can change up the way you operate and manage your hives, and in turn do so in a more natural way.
The only thing to say is that this is quite an old school style of book, more like a textbook you may have found at school years ago. So don’t expect that modern magazine like presentation here. However, if you can get past this, there is some awesome information here for anyone wanted to take a slightly different route in their beekeeping journey.
Book 6: Natural Beekeeping with the Warre Hive
As a beekeeper is it essential that you keep your practice up to date and that you build a more complete knowledge of the different ways of keeping bees. By doing this, you become aware of the different methods out there and you can start forming your own opinions across the wider sprectrum of beekeeping. This is what leads to people coming up with their own hybrid beekeeping systems or being able to tweak traditionally used systems for the better.
This is why I recommend that any beekeeper reads this book on the Warre Hive. Émile Warré was a French priest and beekeeper who came up with a totally different style of managing bees with what is now known as the Warre Hive. And David Heaf has presented this in a perfectly written and nicely wrapped up bundle with this book here.
Not only is this book an inspiring piece for anyone that’s wants to start a journey in natural beekeeping, but also a fountain of knowledge that any beekeeper can learn and grow from. I know myself that I found the whole thing fascinating, and although I don’t intend to use the full Warre Hive system, I got some pearls of wisdom I can use in my beekeeping operation going forward. This is how we develop our own style rather than just blindly following a set of instructions 🙂
Book 7: The Beekeeper’s Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses
When a book calls itself the bible in any walk of life, it raises the expectations! Thankfully, this Beekeeper’s Bible really does live up to its name! Not only does it provide a full gambit of information about beekeeping, but also around honey recipes and home crafts using bee related by products. If you have any interest in bees and bee products, this book is a must read. Just make sure that you have a coffee table that can take the weight of this 400 page beast!! The authors of this book are seasoned writers and journalists in the UK, and you really can tell they know how to write a thing or two!!
Although, in a way, this can be slightly off-putting for some. Don’t expect a clear and concise book here, but more a rambling mass of information coupled with anecdotes and stories. Personally, I love this rambling style when reading a book, but I know others may prefer something that gets to the point faster 🙂
The beauty of this book for me is the fact that it covers the full range of information, so is not only for the beginner bee keeper. Even some intermediate to advanced beekeepers can glean a lot of important tips and information here. This book makes the perfect gift for anyone interested in beekeeping, in my humble opinion. This is the book even seasoned beekeepers will find themselves coming back to!!