For Your Bookshelf

From Bee Craft: November 2009

Untitled(5)-2We look at some of the new books available on bees and beekeeping

Bee-Sieged: Bees in Warfare

Ray Jones

ISBN: 0978.1.906542.03.O £7.99, Barny Books, The Cottage, Hough on the Hill, Grantham, Lines NG32 2BB

(www.barnybooks.biz)

This book very quickly passed the first obstacle all books must conquer – it was interesting. Everything to do with bees, hives and honey that can remotely be involved in warfare appears to get, at the very least, a passing note.

In a way, it seems sad that the bees’ only weapon, the sting, intended for use in colony defence, is utilised by man for the same purpose.

Bees as weapons; wax used in the making of weapons and in taking notes; honey and wax to embalm the ‘mighty’ fallen like Alexander; honey and propolis in wound care. All are here. Bees are still used up to the present as message carriers, for example, and, lately, as mine detectors.

This book doesn’t tell you how to control swarms but it does show an area of man-bee interaction in great detail and in an engaging way. Christmas is coming. What a great stocking filler to give – or receive. I leave it up to you to drop the hints!

Adrian Waring

Untitled(5)-1A Short History of the Honey Bee

E Readicker-Henderson

ISBN: 978-088192-942-3 £14.99, August 2009, Timber Press, The Quadrant, 13s Salisbury Road, London NW6 6RJ

I once looked at an old cartoon in Punch. A Bishop addresses a curate at breakfast. ‘I fear Sir, you have a bad egg.’ Curate (anxious to please): ‘Oh no, my lord, parts of it are excellent!’

This joke came to mind when I read this book. The photographs by llona McCarty are excellent. They are badly let down by their captions and, to a slightly lesser extent, by the text. For example, one double-page spread shows comb built over the top bars into a wrong bee space. In other words, burr comb filled with honey. The caption says: ‘Forms are full and ready for harvest*. Why ‘Forms’ ? Is this a misprint? If so, why wasn’t it spotted? Later on (one page later) we see this bun-comb being scraped up as a sticky mass into a hand. The caption says: ‘The beekeeper cuts off the caps over the honey comb preparing the forms for extraction’.

Reference is made to the African bees first imported into South America by an Englishman named Warwick Kerr. A little research would have revealed that even if the name might have been English, the man certainly wasn’t.

Yet another caption says: ‘A bee gathers nectar from a sunflower*. Correct in a sense, but the bee is not a honey bee but a solitary bee, possibly Nomada. A closer look at the photograph will show the pollen is not packed in an Apis melliferacorbicula.

Examination of the text reveals regurgitated information at a very basic level, artfully hidden in a very florid English. The author is described as a beekeeper but his beekeeping knowledge seems very superficial.

If you buy this book, it will be for the photographs. It is certainly not a book that will be of value to a beekeeper. It seems to be full of ‘interesting’ facts aimed at non-beekeepers. I am afraid I was not impressed.

Adrian Waring

 

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