Saturday, February 27, 2016

Winter Book List

People think beekeeping is a  3-season activity from spring until fall. However, to me, winter is a good time to practice beekeeping by repairing/building equipment and reading up.

I've been keeping bees for a few years now, and I feel like I have a good handle on how bees act collectively as a colony. However, I've really been wanting to learn more about bees individually. So for Christmas, my awesome DH gifted me with a couple of books on my wish list and one that wasn't.

There are days I wish for a revolving book stand like Thomas Jefferson's because I've started all of my books at once and haven't finished any of them yet. So this won't be a real book review -- just a peek of what's on my nightstand.

Jefferson's invention holds 5 books.
Perfect for the 3 bee books and 2 novels I'm in the middle of.
So what am I reading...

I didn't ask for Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping by Dewey Caron, but my husband picked it out. Truthfully, I haven't gotten past the second chapter because, although it seems like a great book, so far, it hasn't really been what I wanted. My husband, who is not into beekeeping, actually found this one a fascinating and excellent read. So two thumbs up from him.

My friend Susan suggested The Biology of the Honey Bee by Mark Winston to me last year when her beekeeping course was studying it. It is exactly the kind of book that I was looking for. It's a bit dated (1987), but the information on bee anatomy, physiology and behavior is excellent and extremely comprehensive. This book has taught me an incredible amount already, and I've still got two-thirds of the book left. Well worth reading.

Michael Bush mentions Better Queens on his website, and it was recommended by a number of other people as well. I believe this is a revision of Smith's book Queen Rearing Simplified. In any case, this book had me hooked from the start with its simple and engaging writing. My favorite line from it:

As I grew in experience, I learned to go more to the bee for my information. I learned that should I ask a dozen men a question I might get a dozen different answers, while if I asked the bees a question I got just one answer, and that the correct one. No, they never gave me a five to four Supreme Court decision but their decision is always unanimous.

 How could I not love a book with a line like that?

So those are my bee books. My non-bee related reading includes My Uncle Napoleon, which is a screamingly funny coming-of-age story and a touchstone of Iranian literature. The Martian is another book that... well, actually I recently finished that one. I was disappointed by the ending, but overall, it was a terrific read (and way better than the movie). Highly recommend. Lorna Doone (another gift from my DH) and Ready Player One (a recommendation from my son who rarely enjoys books) are next on the list. For work, I've also been reading lots of journal articles about atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome and paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria; however, unless you suffer from insomnia, I highly recommend avoiding those.

What are your favorite books? Reading anything good lately?


  1. Mark Winston's "Biology of the Honey Bee" is my favourite book about honey bees. Even though it could use an updated edition, it's one of the first books on honey bees that I read and still one of the best because it's so compelling and informative. Most of what I've read since feels like a repeat of what I learned from Mark Winston.

  2. I asked for a bunch of bee books, but the Caron and Winston books weren't on the list. I'll have to add those to my wish list. I did get "The Bees in Your Backyard" (Wilson & Carril) from my sister, which I'm enjoying.

    So, if you have the Jefferson reader stand, do you read one sentence at a time from each book as you spin it around? I'd think I was on Mars if that's the case!

  3. I really enjoyed The Buzz about Bees: Biology of a Superorganism by J├╝rgen Tautz. Quite a bit about individual bee behavior, but overall about the behavior of a colony. I haven't read a bee biology book yet, perhaps next winter....


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