Beekeeping Basics

The Best Beekeeping Books

If you’ve been paying attention so far, you might have noticed that I’m a total nerd (if not, don’t worry, you’ll catch on soon.) One of the places my nerd flag shines the brightest is when I get talking about bee books. See, I love books, and when it comes to bees and beekeeping there are just so many fantastic books out there. All of them chock full of information just waiting to be absorbed!

Whether you are completely new to beekeeping or are a master beekeeper, you should never stop reading. Why? Here are three great reasons:

  1. Every author  has their own perspective, so you can learn something completely new even if the topic of the book is something you’ve covered extensively
  2. The science of bee biology, beekeeping techniques, and environmental factors is constantly being updated. For a great example, I recently read a study that throws everything we thought we knew about how queens become queens (instead of workers) on its head. Now go back and correct that post I wrote about honeybee castes!
  3. The easiest way to be dumb is to decide that you’re too smart to keep learning.

Ok, so you’re convinced, but there are so many books out there! Where do you start?! To help make things a little easier, I’ve compiled some of the books that I find myself recommending over and over to nice people who want to know more about bees.

For Beginners:


The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping

By Dean Stiglitz and Laurie Herboldsheimer
Normally I wouldn’t recommend a book for “complete idiots”. I don’t think my readers are complete idiots. This is, however an excellent basic introduction to the fundamentals of beekeeping. It’s not exactly exhaustive, but if, say, you just accidentally got some bees and had no idea what you were doing, reading this book would give you an excellent foundation to get you started.

Get it on Amazon: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping (Idiot’s Guides)



The Biology of the Honey Bee

by Mark L. Winston
This is, hands down, my FAVORITE book about bees and my #1 most recommended book. I recommend this book to newbies who haven’t even looked inside a hive and to seasoned veterans alike. Everyone. Should. Read. This. Book.

Get it on Amazon:The Biology of the Honey Bee




The Practical Beekeeper: Beekeeping Naturally
by Michael Bush
From Amazon: “This book is about how to keep bees in a natural and practical system where they do not require treatments for pests and diseases and only minimal interventions. It is also about simple practical beekeeping. It is about reducing your work. It is not a main-stream beekeeping book. Many of the concepts are contrary to “conventional” beekeeping. The techniques presented here are streamlined through decades of experimentation, adjustments and simplification. The content was written and then refined from responding to questions on bee forums over the years so it is tailored to the questions that beekeepers, new and experienced, have. It is divided into three volumes and this edition contains all three: Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced.”

Most people wouldn’t necessarily consider this a good beginner’s book, since Michael Bush certainly has some unusual ideas about keeping bees, but I generally approve of his methods and I think if more people read this book starting out, we might see fewer frustrated beekeepers.

Get it on Amazon: The Practical Beekeeper: Beekeeping Naturally


Great Reference Books:
Now that you’ve covered your basic how to’s and the fundamentals of bee biology, it’s nice to have a couple of books for reference. The following books are both excellent references, covering a broad range of topics about bees and beekeeping. Read them from front to back if you’re a geek, or just pick them up when you need to learn a bit more about Lorenzo Langstroth or how to make furniture polish from beeswax.

The Beekeeper’s Bible
by Richard Jones, and Sharon Sweeney-Lynch
From Amazon: “The Beekeeper’s Bible is as much an ultimate guide to the practical essentials of beekeeping as it is a beautiful almanac to be read from cover to cover. Part history book, part handbook, and part cookbook, this illustrated tome covers every facet of the ancient hobby of beekeeping, from how to manage hives safely to harvesting one’s own honey, and ideas for how to use honey and beeswax. Detailed instructions for making candles, furniture polish, beauty products, and nearly 100 honey-themed recipes are included. Fully illustrated with how-to photography and unique etchings, any backyard enthusiast or gardener can confidently dive into beekeeping with this book in hand (or daydream about harvesting their own honey while relaxing in the comfort of an armchair).”
Get it on Amazon: The Beekeeper’s Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses

ABC’s and XYZ’s of be culture
by Amos Ives Root, Ann Harman, Dr. Hachiro Shimanuki, and Kim Flottum
From Amazon: “Constructed as an easy to use and comprehensive encyclopedia of honey bees, beekeeping and beekeeping practices and equipment, the alphabetical listings cover absolutely everything in the beekeeping world. From African Honey Bees, to beeswax, to comb honey, to G. M. Doolittle, to essential oils, to Karl von Frisch, to Extracted Honey, to more than 50 of the most popular honey plants to laying workers, to honey bee mites, to nucleus colonies, to Queen piping and Queen rearing, to the A. I. Root Company History, to smoking colonies, to Top Bar Hives, to Varroa, to wintering to worker cells. The 16 page Glossary is easy to use, and contains hundreds of entries to make learning the science, and art of beekeeping easier and faster than you can imagine.”

Get it on Amazon: The ABC & XYZ of Bee Culture: An Encyclopedia Pertaining to the Scientific and Practical Culture of Honey Bees



Swarm Traps and Bait Hives
by McCartney M Taylor
I already recommended this book in a previous post, but I thought it would be useful to include it here as well. This is a short book that is specifically focused on catching swarms in the Spring either manually or by setting bait hives. It may seem a bit Niche, but catching wild bees can be an excellent way to get healthy local stock for free.
Get it on Amazon: Swarm Traps and Bait Hives: The easy way to get bees for free.




Honey Bee Democracy
Thomas D. Seeley
This book won’t necessarily improve your beekeeping a lot, but if you, like me are just endlessly fascinated by these tiny critters, this is a wonderful read.
From Amazon: “Honeybees make decisions collectively–and democratically. Every year, faced with the life-or-death problem of choosing and traveling to a new home, honeybees stake everything on a process that includes collective fact-finding, vigorous debate, and consensus building. In fact, as world-renowned animal behaviorist Thomas Seeley reveals, these incredible insects have much to teach us when it comes to collective wisdom and effective decision-making. A remarkable and richly illustrated account of scientific discovery, Honeybee Democracy brings together, for the first time, decades of Seeley’s pioneering research to tell the amazing story of house hunting and democratic debate among the honeybees.”

Get it on Amazon: Honeybee Democracy


Those are my favorite and most recommended bee books! What are some of yours?

You Might Also Like

1 Comment

  • Reply
    March 7, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Excellent recommendations! I especially love the “Complete Idiot’s Guide”. I haven’t read “Honeybee Democracy” yet, but its on my list.

  • Add a comment!