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11 Best Beekeeping Books (Updated for 2022)

Honey Bee Nutrition
One of the most crucial tasks in getting started with beekeeping is to educate yourself. While we endeavor to assist you based on our knowledge, having books on hand to give specific advice or help resolve a problem is quite beneficial. Any beekeeper's library should include beekeeping literature.

We own and use these beekeeping books because they are the finest. Some of these are among the most popular and well-recommended beekeeping books. You may be unfamiliar with a couple of them. They're all authored by well-known specialists in the subject.

We'll categorize them, explain the content, and provide some background information on the writers.
For additional information on how and when to start beekeeping, see our linked post How & When To Start Beekeeping (8 Action Steps).

The Best Beekeeping Books for Beginners

Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile's The Beekeeper's Handbook

If you just purchase one beekeeping book as a beginner, make it The Beekeeper's Handbook. The book was first published in 1978 and is now in its Fifth Edition, which was released in 2021.

Our beekeeping library's most popular book is The Beekeeper's Handbook. The Beekeeper's Handbook is rich in information beneficial to both novice and expert beekeepers, accompanied by over 100 comprehensive images and a glossary of words, beginning with "fun facts" provided on the inside front cover.

"A lethal amount of venom is 10 stings per pound of body weight," according to a fun fact. So, let's see how many times that is... It's all right. Let's just say that I'm hoping I'll never have to perform that arithmetic again!

Beginning with Chapter 1 – "Understanding Bees," the writers cover everything from obtaining bees to seasonal management, hive products, and pest control, starting with "Beekeeping Equipment" (Chapter 3).

Various beekeeping practices are described in-depth, with step-by-step instructions included.

There are issues such as queen raising and a comprehensive list of references for further study for more expert beekeepers.

The concentrate on the Langstroth hive to the exclusion of other possibilities such as the Warré and Top Bar Hives is the book's only flaw. We feel this is a small concern for new beekeepers since we highly advise them to start with Langstroth hives, which are the most frequent and commonly utilized.

The Beekeeper's Handbook is a great place to start your beekeeping library and may provide years of useful knowledge.

Who are the authors?

Diana Sammataro is a retired USDA Honey Bee Lab scientist. She graduated from The Ohio State University with a Ph.D. in Entomology and Apiculture. Ms. Sammataro has worked in the field of beekeeping as a researcher, speaker, and author. She's also a beekeeper, of course.

According to the Foreword of The Beekeeper's Handbook, Alphonse Avitabile is an experienced beekeeper, a retired honey bee scientist, and a college lecturer, among other things.

Kim Flottum's book The Backyard Beekeeper— An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden

Another good book for beekeeping beginners is The Backyard Beekeeper (currently in its 4th Edition). This book, first published in 2005, presents a brief history of beekeeping, just enough to give you a sense of the pastime you are about to embark on.

Beautiful color images take you from "getting started correctly" with the necessary equipment and location through gathering honey and manufacturing beeswax items.

The Backyard Beekeeper is designed for tiny hobby beekeepers that don't have a lot of room (hence, the backyard). The author goes over ways to safeguard your neighbors as well as urban beekeeping.

The section "25 Modern Rules of Beekeeping" provides a handy, succinct list of items to bear in mind. Although not as comprehensive as The Beekeeper's Handbook, the glossary and reference appendices are helpful.

The tiny typography utilized in this book is my greatest gripe. Something bigger would be nice for these aging eyes. This problem may not exist in a Kindle or EBook edition.

Author Biography

Kim Flottum is the editor-in-chief of Bee Culture Magazine, where he has been writing and editing articles for the last 20 years. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in horticulture and worked at the USDA Honey Bee Research Lab. He is the author of a number of books about bees and beekeeping. On Facebook, you can find him here.

Howland Blackiston's Beekeeping for Dummies

Beekeeping for Dummies is in its 5th edition and is part of the "for dummies" learning series of books.

This book, like others in the "for dummies" series, features an easy-to-read structure that covers all you need to know in a clear manner. It is described as a reference book rather than a lecture by the author. It's simple to locate the information you're looking for.

While the Langstroth hive is still the star of the show, this version includes information on Top Bar hives and a chapter dedicated to diverse kinds of hives.

A brief section in Beekeeping for Dummies may help you identify between honey bees and other stinging insects.

Tips, cautions, things to remember, urban beekeeping points, and "all-natural" recommendations are all highlighted with symbols throughout the book. Beekeeping for Dummies even includes some recipes for using the honey you've collected.

Beekeeping for Dummies, like other publications, has a dictionary and a list of useful references. Appendix B, Beekeeper's Checklist, is particularly useful for newcomers. Beginners sometimes underestimate the importance of maintaining records, and this checklist is a great place to start.

Howland Blackiston, a previous president of the Connecticut Back Yard Beekeepers Association, is the author of this book. He's been a beekeeper for more than 30 years, has written several articles, and has been on television and radio.

Richard Jones and Sharon Sweeney-The Lynch's Beekeeper's Bible (Bees, Honey, Recipes, and Other Home Uses)

The Beekeeper's Bible is a beekeeping jack-of-all-trades book.

The section on "Practical Beekeeping" will provide much of the same information as the other books mentioned here for newcomers. The value of this book, in my opinion, is in everything else.

Part One, "Bees and Beekeeping History," is around 60 pages lengthy and provides an excellent overview of how beekeeping has evolved through time.

This book is jam-packed with images, drawings, and artwork that cover everything from beekeeping history to how to make beeswax furniture polish. It blends knowledge from The Beekeeper's Handbook with something from Beehive Alchemy to create a unique product (described below).

It's an excellent book to take off the shelf and read for knowledge.

Who are the authors?

Richard Jones is the International Bee Research Association's Director Emeritus in Cardiff, United Kingdom. He is an insect specialist who has written articles for a variety of journals, including New Scientist.

Sharon Sweeney works at TI Media in London as a Features Editor. She researched and co-authored this book as a freelance writer.

For Advanced Beekeepers, the Best Beekeeping Books

James E. Tew's Beekeeper's Problem Solver (100 Common Problems Explored and Explained)

Despite the fact that the first chapter of Beekeeper's Problem Solver is headed "Beekeeping Basics," I don't believe this is a genuine beginner's guide. That isn't to suggest it won't be an excellent addition to your beekeeping collection. It will answer some basic questions, but it is not intended to guide you through the beginning phases of beekeeping.

This book excels at describing a problem you could experience and providing a probable source of the problem.

If you're having trouble, go through the table of contents for your problem. (Some of the themes use unusual language, such as "Healthy bees are laying lifeless in front of the hive.") Sorry, but I don't think a dead bee is healthy, but I see what he's going at).

The answers are succinct and to-the-point in order to limit the section to one page. In other cases, the lack of specificity necessitates more study on how to execute the answer accurately.

I've been casually skimming through this book to see what kinds of challenges I could run across. I assume it'll help me notice stuff I may otherwise overlook. The Beekeeper's Problem Solver is a valuable resource.

Author Biography

Auburn University's James E. Tew is a Consulting Professor (AL Cooperative Extension System). He graduated from The University of Maryland with a Ph.D. in Entomology. I originally learned about Dr. Tew via the Ohio State Beekeepers' web-based video beekeeping training, which I highly recommend. He is the proprietor of One Tew Bee, a company that provides beekeeping knowledge and seminars.

Dewey M. Caron and Lawrence John Connor's Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping

One of the more costly books you may come across is Honey Bee Biology And Beekeeping. This is not a book for the novice enthusiast, in my opinion. It was "designed to serve as a general textbook for a university course on bees and beekeeping," according to the Forward (Foreword?).

While there is a "Getting Started" chapter, it is far back in Chapter 11. The Getting Started books mentioned above give much better instruction for the beginning beekeeper.

I wouldn't call Honey Bee Biology And Beekeeping simple reading since it was written as a college textbook. However, it's a great reference book to have in your collection. It covers almost every area of bees and beekeeping that you would be interested in.

To aid the reader, the book contains several drawings, charts, and color images, as well as a glossary.

Who are the authors?

Dewey M. Caron is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Delaware and an Extension Entomologist. Cornell University awarded him a Ph.D. in Entomology. Dr. Caron is a beekeeper with over 40 years of teaching and research expertise. He is the Past Chairman of the Board of the Eastern Apiculture Society, among other things. He authored the Forewords to both The Beekeeper's Handbook and Beekeeping for Dummies, as you may have seen.

Wicwas Press, which publishes how-to manuals and other publications about bees and beekeeping, is owned by Lawrence John Connor. Mr. Connor graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor's degree in entomology and a master's degree in entomology. He has worked as an Extension Entomologist in Apiculture at Ohio State University and at Dandant and Sons, where he ran a bee breeding program. He's written many books about bees and beekeeping, as well as pieces for Bee Culture Magazine and the American Bee Journal.

Michael Bush's The Practical Beekeeper

The Practical Beekeeper is a three-volume set that explains "how to raise bees in a natural and practical system that requires no pesticides or illnesses and only little manipulations." All of the books are available in a single hardback version or as separate paperbacks. The Practical Beekeeper, as a group, is one of the most costly things on our list, rivaling Honey Bee Biology And Beekeeping. A single book contains a complete series.

The series consists of three books:
  1. Volume 1 - A Natural Approach to Beekeeping
  2. Volume 2-Natural Intermediate Beekeeping
  3. Advanced Beekeeping Naturally (Volume 3)

The author's website Bush Farms contains some of the material found in The Practical Beekeeper. Volume 1 offers fundamental advice for new beekeepers, although I believe the series is more useful when you've had some experience.

Some of the "commonly accepted" notions among beekeepers are challenged in The Practical Beekeeper. While it advocates for chemical-free beekeeping, it does not take a strong position. The author, for example, mentions his usage of oxalic acid to treat varroa mites.

Many of the solutions are geared toward reducing the beekeeper's burden. We've attempted several of the suggestions, such as utilizing all medium hive boxes and experimenting with foundation-free frames. It's even been dubbed "lazy beekeeping" by some.

I believe the book is lacking in images and photos, although this isn't a major flaw.

I feel The Practical Beekeeper is a wonderful book for expanding your mind to different alternative ways after you have some experience as a beekeeper.

Author Biography

Michael Bush has been a beekeeper for almost 40 years, and his techniques of beekeeping may be seen in a number of videos on YouTube. He participates in online discussion groups. (On Beesource's forum, he reacted to several of my posts.)

Thomas D. Seeley's Honeybee Democracy

Each year, a large number of bees from a colony may swarm, bringing with them the ruling queen in search of a new home. The author's research into how bees make this crucial house-hunting choice collaboratively and democratically is described in Honeybee Democracy.

If you've ever questioned that these small insects work as a single "superorganism," I believe this book will persuade you otherwise.

Beginning beekeepers should avoid Honeybee Democracy. Thomas Seely goes into great depth about his meticulous study. It's unlikely that a rookie would enjoy it. If you want to learn more about bee behavior, here is the place to go.

Author Biography

The Horace White Professor of Biology at Cornell University is Dr. Thomas D. Seeley. In the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, he offers animal behavior courses. Dr. Seeley is also interested in honey bee behavior and social life.

Specialty Beekeeping Books at Their Finest

Beeswax Alchemy (How to create your own candles, soap, balms, salves, and home décor from the hive) and Beeswax Alchemy (How to make your own candles, soap, balms, salves, and home décor from the hive)

Alchemy of the Beehive (Projects and recipes using honey, beeswax, propolis and pollen to make soap, candles, creams, salves, and more)
Petra Ahnert (Petra Ahnert)

Beeswax Alchemy and Beehive Alchemy have subtitles that perfectly describe what you'll find within.

Once you've started using the hive's goods, these books will show you how to do some fun things with them.

For example, before I opened Beehive Alchemy, I had never heard of "encaustic painting" (or at least had not noticed it). If you're unfamiliar, encaustic is a way of creating art using heated beeswax and color pigments. (For further information, go to the Encaustic Art Institute's What Is Encaustic? page.) I'm not sure I'll attempt it (I'm not much of an artist), but it seems intriguing.

On her Facebook profile, Petra Ahnert describes herself as a beekeeper and an Alchemist. Beehive Alchemy is a "small handmade soap, body care, and candle business" that sells the things she describes in her books.

Georges de Layens and Gaston Bonniers' Keeping Bees In Horizontal Hives (A Complete Guide to Apiculture)

Keeping Bees In Horizontal Hives was written in 1897, and the author died in 1897. Although the work is ancient, the translation from French gives it a new lease of life.

Keeping Bees In Horizontal Hives is unique among beekeeping publications in that it does not concentrate on the Langstroth hive (or other vertical hives such as the Warré). Instead, it recommends using a horizontal hive (also known as a Layens hive) to raise bees in a more natural and sustainable manner.

Top Bar hives, which are also horizontal, are comparable to Layens hives. These hives are made out of a single horizontal box that reduces the amount of effort and intervention required by the beekeeper.

The Layens hive differs from conventional Top Bar hives in many ways. Traditional Top Bar hives do not have frames and rely only on a "topbar" from which the bees hang their comb. The hive's form generally results in a honeycomb block that is triangular in shape.

The frames in Layens hives are similar to those in Langstroth hives, but they are substantially deeper, resulting in a greater comb structure.

We recently received our first horizontal hive and will put it to the test next year. Keeping Bees In Horizontal Hives is a fantastic place to start if you want to attempt a Layens hive.

Who are the authors?

In the late 1800s, Georges de Layens, a French apiculturist, invented the Layens hive.

Gaston Bonnier was a botany professor at the Sorbonne in France and a member of a number of scientific organizations.