I bought this after reading a very positive review in the BBKA News and starting to follow David’s blog: (www.beekeeping-book.com/blog). I am pleased with it!
Do not buy this if you are an experienced beekeeper wanting to learn extra tips and tricks or scientific background to your beekeeping. Do buy it if you are a beginner wanting simply written, beautifully illustrated advice to get you started on the basics. As David says, “It is written by a novice, for novices, to demonstrate that taking up beekeeping doesn’t need to be complicated”.
Things I liked about it:
- David is a professional photographer and used his own photos throughout the book. It is sumptuously illustrated, with a glossy colour photo on almost every page. I’m a very visual person so this really attracted me to it.
- His is the first book I’ve found to have a step-by-step photo guide (p28-33) to making up a frame, down to where every nail should be placed. This really helps when you’re a beginner and, like me, not a natural carpenter!
- He has similar thoughts to me on bee suits, smokers and feeders, preferring an all-in-one suit and round rapid feeders. About smoking, he says “I don’t smoke the entrance of my hives, as I’ve found it aggravates my bees unnecessarily. As a beginner, you can only judge this by observing how your bees react as you get to know their temperament.” Emma and I have also stopped smoking the entrances, as our bees are so gentle it’s not needed.
- The book guides a beginner through the basics of their first year, from the first inspection to winter feeding. Making up sugar syrup is explained well.
- It has a pollen colour guide! This is really quite unusual in a general beginner’s book and very fun to have.
- Practical advice on storing combs and equipment over winter, a topic often not covered.
- There are a couple of minor typos and spelling mistakes, even though this is the 2nd edition. I’ve noticed this in a lot of beekeeping books – don’t the publishers use copyreaders?
- He recommends that the third year beekeeper should replace some old frames with new frames of foundation gradually. In their ‘Replacing Comb’ factsheet, available for free on the Beebase website, the National Bee Unit team describe this as the comb replacement method that causes the most problems (they prefer either replacing old comb with prepared drawn comb or carrying out a Bailey Comb Change).
- It has a glossary but no index!
- He describes a mouse-guard as non-essential if using a reduced entrance. Having seen mice damage in a nucleus with a round entrance about the size of a 1p piece, I don’t think it’s worth risking going without one.
These are just minor niggles and overall it’s one of the best beginners’ books I’ve read. If you are interested in buying it, cheap e-book editions are available at www.beekeeping-book.com/ebook.html or it can be bought directly from David at www.beekeeping-book.com/order-book.html.