For the last few years Honey Bees have been in the news a lot due to Colony Collapse Disorder, and the potential effects on farming and crops in the US.
In my north side Iowa City neighborhood it seemed exactly the opposite last year. People were seeing amazing numbers of bees in their gardens. At one point they were chasing away the hummingbirds!
Late in the summer we discovered why when a large natural honey bee hive was discovered in on one of the big Norfolk Pines at the edge of Oakland Cemetery. (click on the image to see the crack in the tree full of bees). It was amazing sitting on the porch and watching the bees on the Rose of Sharon hedge all fly off in the same direction. It made me wonder about putting a hive in my own back yard. There are three new books at ICPL on bees!
Homegrown Honey Bees: An Absolute Beginners Guide to Beekeeping – Your First Year, from hiving to Honey Harvest by Althea Morrison and Mars Vilaubi. Full of amazing close-up photography, this is a great book for new-bees. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) From planning for and acquiring your supplies and setting up your hive, to understand the bee life cycle and behavior, it’s all here. The authors share what they went through their first year as beekeepers. From replacing a dying queen bee and keeping their hive alive during a hard winter to their first honey harvest. It’s a fun read, but gave me a LOT to think about.
Building Beehives for Dummies by Howland Blackiston. If you’re like me, you think beehive and you think a medium sized stack of white boxes. That’s a good description of a Langstroth hive – but there are 5 other types of hives popular around the world. Blackiston’s book also includes discussions of the benefits and uses of each type of hive. But be warned, this book is actually the sequel to his “Beekeeping for Dummies” book written a few years ago, and this one is designed for the experienced beekeeper who is also a DIYer who is experienced working with wood and reading cutting lists and plans, although he does a pretty good explanation of everything involved.
Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture – revised and expanded edition by Ross Conrad. Originally published in 2007 just as Colony Collapse became big news, this 285 page updated guide to organic beekeeping contains 12 chapters that cover just about everything you need to consider to raise bees organically, harvest honey, and market your finished product. From hive management, to dealing with parasites and pests, and hive diseases it’s all here. At the end of the book you’ll find notes divided by chapter, a glossary, a list of resources, and a thorough index.