Friday, January 9, 2009


Beekeeping is an interesting hobby. Because bees are living, breathing, thinking creatures, they don't always do what you want. Their environment is somewhat delicate, especially if you want to keep bees in the cold climate (like Massachusetts). Therefore, one of the first things you need to do is to educate yourself on bees and beekeeping (you should do this even before you decide to be a beekeeper, because what you learn may affect your decision).

For me, the education process started with scouring the web for websites, articles, blogs, etc. relating to beekeeping. I checked out a lot of books on beekeeping from the library, and ended up buying a couple for myself (see below).

What I've learned is that there is not a lot of 'hard science' about beekeeping; sure, there are certain facts on the bee that are known and understood. But there is a lot which is unknown, like exactly what causes a beehive to decide it needs to swarm. Additionally, there is a lot of misinformation - one of the first pieces of advice Rick at New England Bees gave me is to not take as gospel what you read and hear from other beekeepers. Every keeper has his/her ways of doing things, which may or may not work for you.

So what did I do to learn about beekeeping?

First I found a lot of web pages on beekeeping. Most (if not all) of the major beekeeping clubs have web sites. There are some Q&A forums available (Beesource Beekeeping Forums is one of my favorites). Many people keep blogs (like this one!) with their experiences. I especially like Linda's Bees and Long Lane Honeybee Farms (Long Lane has a set of beekeeper intro articles which are very good). Also, searching for "beekeeping" on YouTube will find you a lot of videos - beekeepers like to film their activities (as I will probably do too!). Finally, you can talk to actual beekeepers! Go to a local beekeeper club meeting, and you'll find many people willing to educate you.

I own the following books and found them to be very helpful in learning about beekeeping:

My favorite is probably Beekeeping for Dummies. Like most Dummies books, they have a good mix of novice and advanced information, with some humor thrown in. They don't presume you know much.

The Backyard Beekeeper is also a good one. The author, Kim Flottum, also publishes a beekeeping magazine called Bee Culture. I don't subscribe to the magazine, but I probably will eventually.

Kim Flottum also wrote New Starting Right With Bees. It's a smaller book, but also full of good information.

So if you are interested in learning more about the hobby (even if you don't want to be a beekeeper), scour the library and web and you'll have plenty to keep you occupied!

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