On impulse, I recently picked up Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper (2009) from a display table at the library. This is the true tale of C. Marina Marchese's love affair with the little buzzing insects that make delicious honey that we get to enjoy on our buttered toast in the mornings.
Ms. Marchese, who lives in Connecticut, took a tour of a neighbor's bee yard and that led her to eventually leaving her position as a creative director for a giftware company to founding her own business, Red Bee Apiary, and beginning a successful new career in beekeeping.
Not only does her book offer a perspective of honeybees as clever and industrious, there are also stories of how Ms. Marchese got involved with the local Back Yard Beekeepers Association, built her own first beehive, got stung a few times, but persevered. She learned a lot and writes clearly about her adventures and the ins and outs of beekeeping, products of the hives in addition to honey, and some of the history of beekeeping as well.
Honeybee is fun to read and very informative without being overwhelming. The author packs a lot of information in 200 pages. It is fascinating to read about these little critters that do so much for the planet.
A Country Year (1986) by Sue Hubbell is another book about a woman who left the corporate world, moved to Arkansas, and began raising bees. I read this one quite a few years ago. Hers is more of a look at adapting to country life, noticing the changing the seasons, and of course, her life with the bees.
If you have watched Lark Rise to Candleford, you will know that Queenie raises honeybees. There is a scene in one episode where she goes out to the hives to tell her bees of the death of someone in the hamlet. This is based on fact. Here is a bit from Honeybee on The Telling of the Bees:
There is an old beekeeping tradition known as "telling the bees". First the bees must know everything that goes on in their keeper's family, including births, deaths, illnesses, and marriages. Then, upon the death of the beekeeper, a close family member should approach the hive, knock three times with the key to the house, and whisper the news to the bees. The bees, it is said, need to be assured that someone will take care of them after their keeper has died; otherwise they will abscond or not produce honey.