This is a journal I will be keeping to document my experiences, both successful and unsuccessful, in beekeeping. This will be my first year, 2011, keeping bees. We'll see how it goes. I will be keeping bees naturally, letting them build on foundationless frames, and without medication. This is also my first blog I have ever done and I am by no means a journalist or English major. So, if you see grammatical errors of any and all kinds don't be surprised. The looks of things on the blog will probably change several times before I come up with something that I like.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Latest Reads

While I have only read a limited amount of books on Beekeeping I think the latest one is the best of all. 

A few months ago I found a book by Karl Von Frisch called" The Dancing Bee" in my local library that was pretty good.  It just became too technical for me to follow very well.  While I did learn quite a lot from his book, these are the main points that I can think of.   This is where I found out exactly where the beeswax comes from.  And, what shapes bees can actually see.  He did a lot of experiments with the honey bee and proved most of his theories with them.  I also learned in more detail about a honey bees anatomy including, the pollen basket, the five eyes, and the honey stomach and how it performs. 

My latest read was Dean Stiglitz and Laurie Herboldsheimer’s
"The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping."  This book was a great read.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beekeeping

It was very easy to follow and they keep your attention throughout the book.  Dean and Laurie are avid treatment free and artificial feed free beekeepers. They stick to their story throughout the book and explain the reason why they believe the way they do.  They walk the beginning beekeeper throughout getting started and give the experienced beekeeper a turning point to get away from harsh chemicals and unnatural feeding.

I kept a few notes as I read through the book.  These are some things that I didn’t know and thought would be helpful in the future:
  • There are six days between when the egg hatches and when that egg is capped.  During that time the larva increases in weight more than 500 times with virtually no waste.
  •  A queen works in spirals laying eggs on the comb.
  •  The alarm pheromone smells a lot like banana oil, therefore, avoid eating bananas in the apiary. 
  •  If you feel something dripping “UP”, it probably is not sweat.
  •  Bees can barely sting through dishwashing gloves.
  •  Pheromone can remain on clothing unless they are washed.
  •   Feeding:  an emergency measure not a regular management practice (exceptions-newly established colonies)
  •  Feeding bees communicates “there is a flow”.  Bees should be stimulated by nature, not when we decide to feed.
  •  Resist the temptations of short term gains and work for long term sustainability.
  •  When inspecting the hive, the first frame pulled should be the frame with the least population to keep from rolling bees and possibly the queen.
  •   If you have to replace a queen, dispatch her and put her in a small jar of alcohol.  Dab this Lure Tincture on a popsicle stick and place it inside a swarm trap works great…...  This one kind of confused me.  Wouldn’t the smell of alcohol deter the bees from taking up residence in a trap with just a hint of alcohol?  Maybe essential oil of lemongrass is a better way to go.  I’m open for suggestions.
  •  Keeping bees is a lot like falling in Love.  Both provide a lot of sweetness tempered with an occasional sting.
Dean and Laurie also go into queen rearing quite extensively.   While this maybe something to go into later for my own stock, I just hope I can get my colonies to overwinter.  They offer easy suggestions for just about every aspect of beekeeping.  If you have not read this book, I strongly recommend it.  It can be found on Amazon right now for $7-$10.

If you know of other books you would recommend please leave me a comment below.


  1. Complete Idiot's - great book (hate the title of the series though). this is the one I steer people to who have questions about treatment-free beekeeping. love it!

    Beekeeper's Handbook is my go-to for more detailed info on bee biology.

    Coolest book ever - At The Hive Entrance, by H. Storch. Very old, slim book, simply written. Goes through each season, in one column what bee activity can be observed at the hive entrance and what this activity signifies.

    really enjoying your blog!

  2. Thanks for your recommendations Luddite. I went today to find the books you suggested at my library. They didn't have the Beekeepers Handbook but they did find it at another public library and they are having it shipped in for me. As for the book "At the Hive Entrance", you might want to have that one under lock and key. :) There is NO library in Tennessee that has it. I've looked on Amazon, Half, and Ebay, all with no avail. Oh well maybe it'll show up sometime.

  3. James - I bought my copy of Storch's book from a UK distributor. Ordered 2 books from them - good experience. Below is the link. It really is an amazing work.