The Bee Book

Chadwick, Fergus, the Bee Book smallFergus Chadwick, Steve Alton, Emma Sarah Tennant, Bill Fitzmaurice and Judy Earl

The first thing you notice about this book is the great number of illustrations, both photographs and drawings, on every page. It is not a book about beekeeping, although this is covered in one of the sections. It is, as the title suggests, a book about bees in their widest context.
It begins with a look at the amazing world of bees. Not just honey bees but also bumblebees and solitary bees. It describes their evolution. Flowers evolved around 130 million years ago and bees evolved from wasps to feed on the pollen and nectar. Apis honey bees are believed to have originated in Asia around 35 million years ago, followed by Bombus bumblebees 10 million years later.
We are all aware of the crisis facing our bees and the next section suggests ways in which we can help them by providing bee-friendly flowers and making bee hotels. Suggestions are given for plants that can provide nectar and pollen. These include trees, shrubs, climbers and annual, biennial and perennial flowers. Bee plants for pots, the veg patch, a cottage garden and a wildlife garden are illustrated.
The following section deals with beekeeping itself. While there is obviously not enough space to go into great detail, all aspects of beekeeping throughout the season are covered including hives and equipment, acquiring bees, swarm control, pests and diseases, uniting colonies and preparing for winter. The final section is entitled ‘Enjoying Bee Bounty’ which encompasses the harvesting of honey and beeswax. It then gives brief descriptions on using beeswax for candles, sculptures and polish. Recipes for a range of honey and beeswax products ranging from garlic chest rub to radiance day cream and bubble bath complete the volume.

Helena Monks
Published by Dorling Kindersley, 2016. 221 pages (hardback).
£16.99.
ISBN: 978-0-2412-1742-9.

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