Better Bee Keeping
Kim Flottum has already written about beekeeping for beginners and beekeeping for harvesting the various products of a beehive (see Bee Craft, August 2011, page 40). He has now written Better Beekeeping for those who are serious about their beekeeping and want to progress further, expand the number of colonies kept and develop into a more commercially orientated operation. So, in this volume, he addresses the topics of migratory beekeeping and dealing with pesticides and he offers an insight into how to select and breed better queens.
‘If you produce the right number of bees that are the right age and in the right condition, and are in the right place at the right time, you will be successful,’ says the author in the introduction, quoting an observation made by Dr Hachiro Shimanuki, a former research leader at the USDA Honeybee Research Laboratory at Beltsville, Maryland, in USA. He says this is a goal to strive for rather than necessarily being achieved but he sets out to show how it can be aimed at.
A key factor to its achievement relates to the quality of the queen. Much of the initial chapters concentrates on techniques to breed ‘perfect’ queens. He describes the facilities that will be needed: equipment, locations for apiaries and a honey house as well as how to plan the bees for the crops to be worked. Well-bred queens are one of the main keys to success.
He quotes from his friend Buzz who, in 30 years beekeeping experience, has concluded that the only really important factor that could be used year on year to grade a queen is how much honey the colony produce that was headed by that queen. What Buzz wanted was honey and the author goes on to describe the ‘bell curve’ where the queen’s egg-laying capacity rises and falls as the season progresses to match the crops in the area where the colony is located. As this factor is so important it explains why it takes around two-thirds of the book to deal with it.
The remaining chapters deal with worker bees, pests and diseases and wintering. The author includes many excellent photographs, most of them taken by himself, and also many practical beekeeping tips. If I had to ask for some improvements, it would be for greater clarity in the explanation of Buzz’s ‘bell curve’ and perhaps the inclusion of a diagram. A better account of the Cloake method of swarm control would also be useful. Here the book has some good pictures of the process of using the board in a colony, but a diagram of the actual board layout would add considerably to the explanation.
Quarry Books, 2011, 176 pages. £16.99. ISBN: 978-1-59253-652-8 (softback). Digital edition published 2011. £18.69. eISBN:
Keeping Bees: Green Guide Pam Gregory and Claire Waring
This book is designed to take those who are interested in bees to a point where they have their own colonies and are competent to deal both with the management of their bees and the products from the hive.
The first chapter deals with the important topic of the bees themselves since understanding them is the key to good beekeeping practice. The would-be beekeeper is then given an outline of the commitment expected before being advised how to obtain his or her first colony. A seasonal guide provides information on management required during the year, leading up to the honey harvest.
We are all aware that honey bees, like other animals, are subject to pests and diseases and the major ones affecting colonies are outlined, together with the treatment required. The final chapter gives an insight into other aspects of beekeeping that follow once the basics have been mastered. A reference list includes books and websites.
Each chapter contains Top Tips and Did you Know? snippets to engage the reader and each one concludes with a useful checklist of points covered.
Flame Tree Publishing, 2011. £9.99. ISBN: 978-1-84786-985-2 (softback)