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The Practical Beekeeper

The Practical BeekeeperThe Practical Beekeeper: Beekeeping Naturally by Michael Bush is the epitome of a self-published book.  (Yes, I do include my 99 cent ebooks in this category.)  The text is chock full of very good information that you can't find anywhere else, but is definitely a bit rough around the edges.

First of all, the author is up front about the fact that the majority of the information can be found for free on his website.  I've spent years dipping into his informative website and was quite willing to pay a bit of money to have that information distilled into a more linear format.

Unfortunately, I felt like he didn't distill all that much.  There's no index, and the book is divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced sections, each of which covers most of the same topics in different degrees of depth.  So, to find out what Bush thinks about strains of bees, I had to read the entire table of contents and then flip through three different sections of the book.  I even noticed a few paragraphs that were included, verbatim, in multiple sections.

Meanwhile, the book is hardcover and large print, which means it's hefty and sells for the scary price of $49.  In retrospect, I might have been better off with the ebook ($29 on his website) since the photos are black and white and only moderate quality (meaning they wouldn't lose anything by being viewed in eink.)

Whichever format you choose, though, I highly recommend The Practical Beekeeper to any intermediate beekeeper who's struggling to navigate the maze of creating a chemical-free apiary.  The book appears daunting, but is actually an easy read and will definitely open your eyes to concepts you'd never considered.

This post is part of our The Practical Beekeeper lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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One thing I'm not sure I understand about bees (I know very little) is why one would want to keep an apiary and deal with the associated challenges instead of just planting bee-attracting flora in order to ensure pollination in the garden. Are there any advantages other than fresh honey and a reliable pollinator source? Is it more a concern over declining bee populations? For some reason, I just haven't caught the bee bug yet. [Pun totally intended, and yes, I do realize that bees are insects, not bugs :)]

~ Mitsy

Comment by mountainstead [] Mon Feb 6 19:28:03 2012

It's all about the honey. I was raised on honey and prefer it to sugar in a lot of dishes (like butternut pies and fruit leather.) Unfortunately, you can't buy real honey, except occasionally at a farmer's market or fruit stand (where you can be pretty certain the beekeeper used pesticides). So, if you want real honey, you have to raise your own.

If you don't like honey, attracting native pollinators is probably better for the earth.

Comment by anna Mon Feb 6 19:44:58 2012

Makes sense. I love honey, too, but got used to using agave nectar back when I was vegan. I've read how it's not any better for you, though, than high-fructose corn syrup, so I'll either need to find a local source (someone has a bunch of hives down the road from us, so maybe I can barter with them), use maple syrup, or just delve into beekeeping!

~ Mitsy

Comment by mountainstead [] Tue Feb 7 11:11:10 2012
I'm not really sure any kind of sweetener is really good for you. :-) That said, local honey is at least supposed to lessen problems with allergies.
Comment by anna Tue Feb 7 12:43:17 2012

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime