February 28, 2009

Book Review: Keeping Bees and Making Honey

by Alison Benjamin and Brian McAllum

Likes: a romantic guide for the aspiring beekeeper
  • beautiful images (even has a photo of a top bar hive)
  • a really good overview of the life of a honeybee (by caste)
  • pictorial instructions for hiving a nuc (most books explain hiving a package, which is the most common way to populate a hive in the US)
  • a list of bee-preferred plants
  • descriptions of varietal honeys
Dislikes: the "Making Honey" portion of the book is very brief and somewhat vague. If you're going to make it part of the title, it seems to me that honey production should be given more than a page and a half. I'm not counting the section on gardening for bees.

The authors, who have just 2 years of beekeeping under their belts, basically say that knowing when to add supers is part of the art of beekeeping. They suggest that would be when the bees have begun drawing out the outermost frames of the brood box, and supering again when the previous one is half-full. Wait... does that make sense? As with most books, this one is written for Langstroth hive beekeepers. If you have a TBH, their supering scheme loosely translates to: make sure the bees always have two or three bars to work with between the last honey comb and the false back.

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