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.
A friend of mine keeps bees; I should get this book for her. It sounds like one she might like.ReplyDelete
Hi Lark. There is a lot of information in the book beyond how to set up hives and take care of your bees. Uses for the beeswax, an appendix on the many varieties of honey - the flower sources, the flavors, and even food pairings - and a couple of recipes. Very compelling reading...if you are into bees!Delete
This sounds like an interesting read. My mom and stepdad have bee hives on their property. They don't own them, but they get paid in honey for allowing the bees to live there and everyone is happy :).ReplyDelete
Kathy, I love that your folks are renting to the bees! Bees need all the help they can get. How lovely that they get to eat that good honey from their own fields.Delete
I learned from this book that there are transient beekeepers who take their hives around to different flowering areas, let them do their pollinating magic, and then move on to the next orchard or field. Fascinating.
Bees are fascinating little creatures and we humans literally can't live without them. I'll look for this book right away. You also reminded me about the Sue Hubbell book, which I also read years ago and enjoyed.ReplyDelete
Joan, I found out many things about bees and beekeeping from this book. It also has some nice illustrations by Elara Tanguy which help. I certainly enjoyed it.Delete
I gave away my copy of Sue Hubbell's book long ago. Sigh. I see that she has written quite a few more. I will keep an eye out for them. I like reading books about life on the farm or country living.
Isn't it amazing what treasures can be found on the display tables at libraries? I'm sure this would have captured my attention as well, Belle, and have put it down in my little notebook of "books to read". I remember that scene with Queenie going to tell her bees. Queenie. She is a queen bee herself, isn't she?ReplyDelete
You might enjoy a blog about the life of a beekeeper. Rebecca talks about her hives, has some wonderful recipes, and is always a joy to read. romancingthebee.com/
Yes, Penny, Queenie is a queen bee. I just now 'got' why they call her Queenie! I love the old-fashioned hives that she has. So much more romantic looking that the wooden file cabinet looking ones of today. But perhaps not as easy to manage.Delete
I will look at Rebecca the Beekeeper's site. I love it when someone finds her passion!
Belle, we are all fascinated by bees. Even I have thought of beekeeping, and it sounds like way too much work for me.ReplyDelete
I just read part of a novel called Telling the Bees, which got an excellent review in the Washington Post, but was too much a mystery for my taste so I didn't finish it.
I just can't get enough of bees!
Hi Kat. I could get swept away with the idea of keeping bees, but like you say, it is a lot of work. The bees aren't the only ones keeping busy with the hives. The beekeeper has a big part in taking care of things. It is not all a 'toast-and-honey' life.Delete
I will look up "Telling the Bees". I like a mystery! Thanks for the suggestion.