Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Buzzing Through Books

My librarian loves me. She says that I keep her in business, and is always remarking about how interesting my book requests look since they come from other branches and she wouldn't get to see them otherwise. It's Wednesday, my library day, so I get to trek a few blocks over to pick up a new stack of books this afternoon. Yipee! Every Wednesday is like Christmas.

Last week Homemade Living: Keeping Bees with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Tend Hives, Harvest Honey & More was in my pickup stack, but unfortunately it is only on a 7 day loan because it's a new book.  Bah! So I raced through as much of it as I could yesterday. Most of it is basic information for the absolute beginner that I pretty much already know by heart, but there were some new things that I haven't found in the other beginner books that I've previously read, like how to catch a swarm, and how to split your hive.

Unique to this book were the little "Profile of a Beekeeper" blurbs scattered about the book. I was especially relieved to read the profiles on two beekeepers who believe that the bees shouldn't be messed with unless absolutely necessary. Thank you, that's my philosophy! Now I don't feel incredibly idiotic for not dousing my hive in chemicals to prevent whatever it was that had wiped out my first colony. (Actually, I believe that chemicals have more to do with problems like CCD, rather than offer solutions.) I agree with one beekeeper's philosophy quoted in the book, "if the queen is strong, the hive will thrive. If not, well...that's life on the farm, I guess."  I also agree that always cracking open the hive and doing checks only stresses the bees.

Some other good things that you might not find in other beginner guides were recipes for bee foods like fondant & pollen cakes, and remedies like grease patties. One chapter goes over the ins and outs of a year of beekeeping, with helpful checklists for each season. If you happen to live in an area where finding a nearby mentor is a challenge, this book is a great substitute for the real thing. Another plus was the last chapter that included delicious looking human recipes made with honey, which I am going to write down before turning the book back in later today.

Overall, I thought this was a very worthwhile book for someone just getting started. It's well organized, covers everything you need to know and is chock full of illustrations and photos- which are extremely helpful in any type of beginner guide. I wouldn't mind having a copy of it in my own collection, along with Ashley English's other books in the Homeade Living series. I have an easy time relating to her, and absolutely love her writing style. Big thumbs up!

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