Have you ever thought about what it would be like to start a beekeeping hobby? What would it be like to produce your own honey and understand exactly how queen bees are chosen? What about drone and worker bees? What do they do and why? For beginner beekeepers, these are all questions they want to be answered in a direct, simple language they can understand and use to start their own beekeeping.
Since the rise of urban backyard beekeeping, harvesting honey is now a more accessible hobby to the average person. For beginners, however, beekeeping can seem like a very daunting endeavor. Fortunately, there are many resources on how to keep bees in many conditions and for all experience levels as in the book Beekeeping for Dummies. This article will explore the pros and cons of various beekeeping manuals, discuss the benefits of having more reading material, and compare several different beekeeping resources to Beekeeping for Dummies in pursuit of the best beekeeping manual.
Beekeeping for Dummies is an encyclopedic guide of current how-to practices and information regarding beekeeping. This manual will safely guide a new beekeeper through the best current practices of caring for bees, including selecting a location for beehives, setting up and maintaining hives, complete honey harvesting techniques, and more. Beekeeping for Dummies provides complete instructions for beehive assembly and maintenance, using the latest tools and equipment, handling the stages of honey production, and more.
Mann Lake is a very well known and respected company within the beekeeping industry. They supply high-quality frames catering to varying budget options. These wooden frames come in a 10 pack in 2 different sizes.
Mann Lake assembled wooden bee hive frames are constructed using wooden materials and are both glued and stapled to ensure maximum frame integrity. They also have standard outside frame and foundation dimensions that come in 6-1/4-inch and 9-1/8-inch variants. What’s great about Mann lake frames is that they are budget friendly, and come with their unique and very popular natural wax-rite cell foundations already installed on the frames.
Along with its counterpart called Building Beehives for Dummies, Beekeeping for Dummies boasts several unique features which set it apart from other beekeeping guides.
While Beekeeping for Dummies explores some universal topics regarding beekeeping, like harvesting and marketing honey, it covers a wealth of other topics, such as raising bees in urban and suburban environments, exploring natural ways (chemical-free) of keeping bees happy and healthy while simultaneously taking care of the environment, raising queen bees and controlling the genetic makeup of the hive, and discussing the impact of the honeybee’s sudden disappearance on the economy and on the environment.
Beekeeping for Dummies provides frequently updated, encyclopedic knowledge of beekeeping by crafting new editions of the book when new information comes out.
Beekeeping for Dummies can be found on several online platforms like Amazon for around $$, new. However, used copies may be purchased for as little as $. This wide range of pricing makes it accessible to most and makes it one of the cheapest comprehensive guides out there.
How It Compares
We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare. Consider the pros and cons of the following resources and follow the links below to check out some other resources on the market.
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The Beekeeper’s Bible is an illustrated almanac which combines the history of beekeeping, honey-based recipes, and DIY projects using beeswax. It acts as a general handbook of knowledge. This is a great fit for art enthusiasts, book-lovers, and beekeepers alike. A worthy investment, this pricier option is one an individual could feel proud to leave on the coffee table and holds time-honored tips, tricks, lore, and remedies for most beekeeping circumstances.
Purchased new, The Beekeeper’s Bible can run around $$.
Because of the book’s dynamic writing style and the wide array of topics discussed, this almanac is reviewed as being as engaging as it is lovely to look at.
Though this, to us, is a one-stop shop for many different topics regarding beekeeping, it is not up to date on current practices of modern, sustainable beekeeping, but it rather focuses on beekeeping from the last 50 years.
The Beekeeper’s Bible is a time-honored book which holds many treasured tips and tricks passed down from beekeepers over the last 100 years.
All in all, this almanac is a beautiful, modestly priced anthology of beekeeping secrets and covers most of the basic information of beekeeping (and more), making it worth at least four stars.
- Timeless almanac with passed down tricks of the trade
- Beautiful illustrations
- Tested honey and beeswax recipes and home remedies
- Accessible language and easy readability
- Holistic overview of beekeeping
- Modestly priced
- Not up to date with sustainability practices
- Some reviewers lamented the scarcity of illustrations
- Not as useful for advanced or niche beekeeping practices
- Price point
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The Bee Book is a picture-heavy informational book about bees. A chapter on gardening introduces concepts related to beekeeping and simple practices, taking a more natural approach to beekeeping. Overall this book has an elementary approach to bees, their care, and their special niche in the wild.
This book can be found new for around $$, or used for as little as $.
Because this book has a reading level of first or second grade and is full of pictures, it poses a very accessible path to garnering knowledge about bees. Best of all, reviewers agree that content is not sacrificed for clarity in The Bee Book.
While this book offers lovely pictures and a comprehensive understanding of the bee’s natural niche, it may not be the most potent resource for the aspiring beekeeper. The Bee Book has a chapter on home gardening as it relates to beekeeping but focuses more on everything bee and the preservation of our winged friends.
This book is enjoyed by many libraries across the United States and has an intergenerational appeal.
Weighing in at only about $, buying a used copy of this book could satisfy bee curiosity for the potential beekeeper without committing to a textbook or anthology of beekeeping practices. The simple reading level and bountiful illustrations of this book allow for further enjoyment as one explores the world of bees.
- High readability with simplistic language—great for beginners
- Beautiful illustrations and pictures
- Holistic understanding of bees and how they fit into the ecosystem
- Focuses on gardening with bees
- Good for those interested in bee preservation
- Low price point
- Too general for an advanced beekeeper
- Not specific to beekeeping
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Top-Bar Beekeeping fills the silence in the beekeeping game regarding organic beekeeping practices that don’t involve chemicals, miticide, or the prefabricated foundation frames typical of most modern beekeepers. The practice of top-bar beekeeping allows for a natural, integrated approach to beekeeping and gardening.
Top-Bar Beekeeping can be found new for around $$ or used for as low as $$.
Though this book covers a wealth of information regarding organic beekeeping, not all of that information was directly related to beginner top-bar beekeeping. Some reviewers found the narrative voice difficult to read and wished the wealth of information had been presented in more digestible chunks.
One of the few available resources on the market for organic top-bar beekeeping, this book offers content which is not obtainable anywhere else. However, some reviewers thought Top-Bar Beekeeping could have focused more on its titular theme than the content regarding chemical-free beekeeping practices.
Top-Bar Beekeeping was written by Les Crowder, president of the New Mexico Beekeepers Association. Crowder has dedicated his life to the study of bees and seeking natural, chemical-free solutions for keeping bees happy and healthy. Top-Bar Beekeeping stands alone in its niche.
While certainly a valuable purchase for those dedicated to organic beekeeping, the relatively high price point and relatively low reader reviews of this book bring its value down to three (* * *) stars.
- A unique perspective on honeybee care
- Organic and chemical-free practices
- Top-Bar beekeeping explained
- Price point
- Niche reading material not suitable for all beginner beekeepers
- “Dreamy” narrative voice distracting to some readers
- Too much information for a beginner to digest
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Written about the democratic decision-making process of bees, Honeybee Democracy takes a sociological look at the personality of bee culture, giving us further insight to their “group intelligence” and matriarchal system of the queen bee. Full of questions about what successful decision-making looks like and ruminations on social organization, Honeybee Democracy asks big questions and delivers honest answers.
New, Honeybee Democracy can be found for around $$, though used copies can be ordered for around $$.
This engagingly written book provides an observational account of bee behavior and contains graphics and charts to further illustrate concepts.
Though Honeybee Democracy is not about beekeeping as much as it is about hive culture, understanding the psychology of bees can help the aspiring beekeeper to catch their own hive and to care for their bees with more compassion and awe.
Written by a Ph.D. graduate, Cornell professor, and enthusiastic beekeeper, Dr. Thomas Seeley is passionate about bees. This book is regarded by entomologists and curious laymen alike as a masterfully crafted book which captures the personality of bees.
A transformational book by most accounts, many reviewers reported this book changed their thinking paradigms regarding decision making in the natural world. While not a beekeeping book, Honeybee Democracy offers invaluable insight into bee psychology, which some reported as being useful to tying together beekeeping information taken from other sources.
- Engaging, unique read
- Applicable to a wide array of topics, including beekeeping and modern societal models
- Understanding bee psychology makes for nuanced beekeeping
- Helps the aspiring beekeeper to assimilate information by providing a psychological backdrop
- Price point
- Not specific to beekeeping
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While there is no going wrong when it comes to learning about bees and beekeeping, certain resources are going to be better suited than others in addressing an individual’s needs. Beekeeping for Dummies is a standard for beekeepers as it is continually reborn in new editions with the latest information. Buying the newest edition of Beekeeping for Dummies is one way a beekeeper can be sure they are on the cutting edge of beekeeping and bee intelligence.
However, certain supplementary reading materials can help to flesh out the concepts covered in Beekeeping for Dummies, creating a larger-scale learning experience for better-integrated learning. For example, Beekeeping for Dummies does not cover every method of beekeeping, like those of more modern, trendy, and sustainable practices. As a general rule, additional reading always makes for a better, safer beekeeper experience. All in all, Beekeeping for Dummies is rated at four (* * * *) stars.
For those interested in the next steps, remember that every advanced beekeeper was once a beginner. This time-honored knowledge has been passed down orally or by books, through the internet in more recent years, or by trial and error. Reading one of the above books is a great way to determine if beekeeping is right for the undecided beekeeper as there are many nuances and risks involved in beekeeping. The only way to keep preventable calamities from affecting the hive, and thereby reducing honey yield, is to keep reading and learning.
Stay in the loop with organizations like the American Beekeeping Federation, a great source for pollinators in the news as well as a legal advocate for the preservation of honeybees and prevention of honey “adulteration” with cheaper sweetener substitutes. Other organizations include The Foundation for the Preservation of Honeybees, American Honey Queen Program Fund, and the Honey Defense Fund. Another great resource for beekeeping news is Bee Keep Buzz, a blog dedicated to keeping beekeepers everywhere connected and current on beekeeping news and strategies.