For those looking to begin beekeeping, there are few better resources than Michael Bush. Mr. Bush has kept bees since the 1970s, and has shared his knowledge and philosophy about this subject on his website and on YouTube. Now, he presents everything in one easy-to-read compendium, The Practical Beekeeper.
This guide gives every beekeeper valuable information: from those just starting their first hive to the more experienced beekeeper looking to make his or her existing hives flourish, everyone will find this guide useful and informative.
The Practical Beekeeper: Beekeeping Naturally is a collection of writings from Michael Bush taken from his website and forum postings. His expertise comes from his extensive experience working with bees. Starting with just two hives almost 40 years ago, he now maintains over 200 hives and has become one of the most trusted resources for those looking for beekeeping information online. While much of the content in this book is available for free on his website, many people were insistent that he publish a book. Therefore, the writings were released in volumes, along with a few new works and useful pictures.
For new beekeepers, topics such as what equipment to buy, how exactly set up the colony, and what the lifecycle of a bee looks like. These topics, and many other commonly asked questions, are dealt with to help the newcomer set up their first hive. Mr. Bush draws on his experience and lets the reader know what has worked and not worked, allowing each reader to decide for themselves which is the best course of action. This makes The Practical Beekeeper not necessarily an instruction manual, but rather a handy guide to give tips and pointers instead of iron-clad instructions.
That tone is one that runs through the entire book. Mr. Bush does not seek to force the reader to adopt one method or one philosophy of beekeeping; rather, all sides are presented with the author giving his advice on which has worked best for him. This way, readers are free to figure out will or will not work for them. This friendly tone makes the book very inviting and not intimidating. At all times, Mr. Bush defines terms and gives practical advice in easy to read language, making it simple for all levels of beekeepers to follow along.
This does not mean, however, that Mr. Bush is on the fence about every issue in beekeeping. He is a strong advocate of the “lazy beekeeper” method, meaning that a person should do as little as possible to the hive in order to get the most from a given colony. This is good advice for all levels of beekeepers; often, people want to feel like they have some control over the hive so they meddle and disturb the bees. What they will come to find is that the colony has a mind of its own and will not necessarily adhere to the will of the beekeeper. By surrendering control and allowing the hive to function on its own, the beekeeper will find that the hive is working just fine on its own.
This philosophy of “less is more” continues with another rule of his found in The Practical Beekeeper, which is to maintain an all-natural hive. These are hives that are free from pesticides, antibiotics, and other chemicals that are often found in commercial honey. This philosophy extends not only to beekeeping but to all areas of life. As factory farming and mass-produced food becomes the norm, we have gotten away from the healthy, organic foods that had been grown since the dawn of man. Through beekeeping, a person can reclaim part of that all-natural food, growing his or her own honey as a way of reclaiming a piece of the past.
No matter how long a person has been keeping bees, they will find value in this philosophy and in the ideas set forth by Mr. Bush in these combined volumes. The Practical Beekeeper gives insight and anecdotes that will benefit all people. It will give new beekeepers a path to starting a successful hive, and give experienced beekeepers new insight on how to make their existing hives the best they can be. This book is an extremely handy reference book, and should be owned by all people who intend to keep a bee colony for either work or pleasure.