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Beekeeping Books

A small selection of some I like

I am not a great reader, I tend to use books for reference purposes only. I accept they are a good source of information and I encourage beekeepers to use the good ones that have sound advice. I'm afraid there are some dreadful books available with information of dubious quality.

Beekeeping in the U.K. is largely amateur, so that is who most books are aimed at. There is nothing wrong with that, but they are often written by inexperienced people, who seem to copy what others have written, including their mistakes! The problem then is that although probably not the best advice, if it is seen in several places it becomes "fact" or "best practise" and is rigidly followed.

It is difficult for a reader. What do they believe? Unfortunately there is a tendency to believe the written word, so it's understandable why beekeepers come to meetings with some of the ideas they have. If you know enough to know that information is poor, then you know enough not to need the book!

I suggest that you read books that are relevant to your situation. There is not likely to be much relevant in a book that was written in California if you keep your bees in Northumberland.

There are a few books I like, with a small number below.

Reflections on Beekeeping. W.S. Robson.

Willie Robson is a long time commercial beekeeper with approaching 2,000 colonies in the harsh climate of the Scottish borders near Berwick upon Tweed. If you can make a living under those conditions, then you are a good beekeeper who is observant and able to manage bees well based on the knowledge gained over many years.

This isn't a beekeeping guide you can get information from. It is a series of thoughts and anecdotes, but there is a lot of sound information within that can be extracted. It is a bit of a rarity in bee books in that you need to read it from cover to cover in order to get the information.

The Principles if Bee Improvement. Jo Widdicombe.

This is a brilliant book! It covers in very simple terms much of what I consider to be wrong with British bees. It encourages the reader to look carefully at their bees and gives very simple ways of improving them.

I have written a review for a magazine that I will place here when it has been published. In the meantime buy the book and enjoy it!

The Honeybees of the British Isles. B.A. Cooper.

Beowulf Cooper was one of the leading advocates of the native and near native honey bees in the British Isles. He was a prolific speaker and writer. This book is put together from his many writings after his death by Philip Denwood, who in my opinion did a brilliant job. There is so much information in the pages and it is the sort of book you can keep reading.

Beekeeping-A Practical Guide. Roger Patterson.

You would expect me to like my own book, but I have so many people tell me they like it too. Within a couple of years I had one beekeeper tell me he had bought a second copy because he had worn the first one out!

I tried to simplify many of the management techniques that beekeepers need, because I have been teaching beekeeping for well over 40 years and I know how confused beginners get. Instead of mentioning several ways of doing things, as many writers do, I have tried to concentrate on only one. This is to overcome the confusion that affects many beginners.

Although it was intended for beginners and those who thought they might like to investigate beekeeping, I have had many experienced beekeepers who have told me they get a lot from it.

Although there are some very fair reviews, there are unfortunately a small number online who have clearly not understood what I tried to achieve.

Roger Patterson.