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Best Overall: The Beekeeper’s Handbook at Amazon
"With step-by-step directions and more than 100 illustrations, this book is helpful for beginners and more experienced beekeepers."
Best for Beginners: Beekeeping for Dummies at Amazon
"This thorough book includes all the information you need to start a backyard bee colony, from set up to handling honey production."
Best Advanced: Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping at Amazon
"This textbook guide contains thorough discussion on advanced topics such as bee behavior, entomology, and more."
Best Backyard: The Backyard Beekeeper at Amazon
"This book aims to make beekeeping an enjoyable and accessible backyard pastime, and it provides tips to get started for beginners."
Best on Equipment: Build Your Own Beekeeping Equipment at Amazon
"This guide contains 35 building projects with instructions on how to craft all the basic infrastructure you need to keep bees."
Best Natural Method: The Practical Beekeeper at Amazon
"This book lays out a method that's as natural as possible, avoiding medications and treatments traditional beekeepers use."
Best Journal: The Beekeeper's Journal at Amazon
"The journal pages feature plenty of blank space for your own entries, but there are also tips, ideas, images, and recipes from the author."
Best Gift: The Beekeeper's Bible at Amazon
"This comprehensive guide is a history book, handbook, and cookbook all rolled into one beautiful almanac with lovely illustrations."
Best Overall: The Beekeeper’s Handbook
One of the best books on beekeeping is The Beekeeper’s Handbook. This popular guide is currently in its fourth edition, and since its initial publication in the 1970s, it's helped new beekeepers learn all about their new hobby.
The Beekeeper’s Handbook will prove useful to both beginners and experienced beekeepers, as it includes step-by-step directions and more than 100 illustrations on topics like setting up an apiary, handling bees, maintaining a healthy colony, and collecting honey. It also includes a discussion of various colony care options and techniques, including pros and cons of each. In the latest edition, you’ll find new information about Colony Collapse Disorder, regional overwintering protocols, and managing common diseases and pests.
Reviewers—many of whom are experienced beekeepers—highly recommend this book, writing that it’s their go-to source of information for questions and problems.
Best for Beginners: Beekeeping for Dummies
From the famous series that has a book on seemingly every topic, Beekeeping for Dummies is an incredibly well-received book for novice beekeepers. This thorough book includes all the information you need to start a backyard bee colony, including detailed information on how to set up beehives, handle honey production, and manage your colony.
This book is especially great for beginners, as it walks you through the initial stages of beekeeping step by step. You’ll learn how to acquire bees and safely install them into both city and rural locations, as well as how to identify and fix common problems and inspect your bees for issues. There are even coupons included that will help you save on beekeeping supplies. Reviewers say it’s well-organized and easy to read, even if you’re completely new to the topic.
Best Advanced: Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping
Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping is more of a textbook than a guide, and its wealth of in-depth information on beekeeping makes it a must-have for experienced beekeepers. It covers a wide array of topics about bee biology and colony management, including hundreds of photos and illustrations.
This book concentrates on the "why," "how," and "when" of beekeeping, and while it does address bee basics, it contains thorough discussion on more advanced topics such as bee behavior, entomology, and more. Many reviewers say they were introduced to this textbook through a beekeeping course, and many note that it’s a must-have for serious beekeepers.
Best Backyard: The Backyard Beekeeper
If you want to start a bee colony in your yard as part of your gardens, you’ll want a guide such as The Backyard Beekeeper. This book aims to make beekeeping an “enjoyable and accessible backyard pastime,” and it’s targeted toward absolute beginners, containing lots of actionable tips and techniques to get you started in the practice.
The Backyard Beekeeper features expert advice on topics like setting up and caring for colonies, selecting a location for your hives, swarm control, harvesting honey, common diseases, and much more. This book is the 4th edition of the popular title, and new additions to the text include information on pest management, providing consistent food for your colony, and even tips for urban beekeepers. Reviewers say this guide is worth having if you’re new to beekeeping, as it’s simple and reasonably priced.
Best on Equipment: Build Your Own Beekeeping Equipment
There’s quite a bit of equipment needed for beekeeping, and if you’re handy, you may want to make it yourself with the help of this book. Build Your Own Beekeeping Equipment has a fairly self-explanatory title—it provides instructions on how to craft all the basic infrastructure you need to keep bees!
This book contains 35 building projects, including essentials like eight- and ten-frame hives, nucs, covers, feeders, swarm catchers, and more. There’s even a section on installing electric fencing and building jigs! There are step-by-step instructions included with each project, including a list of the tools you'll need to complete each project.
According to readers, Build Your Own Beekeeping Equipment requires “modest” knowledge of woodworking—if you’ve never used a saw in your life, it might not be the best option for you. However, if you know your way around a workshop, you’ll be able to use this book to save quite a bit of money by building your own beekeeping equipment.
Best Natural Method: The Practical Beekeeper: Beekeeping Naturally
If you’re looking for alternative beekeeping methods or just want to educate yourself on the various methods out there, consider The Practical Beekeeper: Beekeeping Naturally. This book introduces a “natural and practical system” to cultivating bees with minimal intervention on your part. It goes against many conventional beekeeping methods but has been well-received by readers, who say it’s a thorough introduction to an alternative beekeeping technique.
Essentially, The Practical Beekeeper discusses a minimalistic approach to beekeeping. With this method, you try to keep things as natural as possible, avoiding medications and treatments that beekeepers often turn to. In turn, this means less work for you—so reviewers even go so far as to call it a guide for “lazy” beekeepers.
Best Journal: The Beekeeper's Journal: An Illustrated Register for Your Beekeeping Adventures
Many beekeepers maintain a journal where they store notes, records, observations, and more. If you’re looking for a lovely journal to use along your beekeeping journey, consider The Beekeeper’s Journal, a beautiful and inspirational tool for both novices and experts.
This journal has 176 pages, and it’s the ideal spot to store notes, journal entries, and to-do lists, as well as your thoughts, sketches, and personal recipes. The pages feature plenty of blank space for your own entries, but there are also tips, ideas, images, and recipes from the author. Reviewers say the book is beautiful, informational, and well laid-out, making it a great purchase for any beekeeper or a wonderful gift for the beekeeping enthusiast in your life.
Best Gift: The Beekeeper's Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses
Want a beautiful book that covers every aspect of bees, from the insects themselves to the sweet treats you can make with their honey? Then your best bet is The Beekeeper’s Bible. This comprehensive guide is a history book, handbook, and cookbook all rolled into one beautiful almanac with lovely illustrations—and it would make a perfect gift for your favorite beekeeper (assuming they don’t already own it).
In addition to information about the practice of beekeeping and colony care, The Beekeeper’s Bible delves into topics like harvesting honey and beeswax, as well as all the different things you can do with these products. There are instructions for making candles and beauty products (among other things), and close to 100 honey-based recipes for you to try out.
The Beekeeper’s Bible may not be the best guide for absolute beginners, but it’s a wonderful supplementary tool for backyard beekeepers who want to learn more about the craft.