Bee Lover’s Bookshelf

Honeybee Democracy by Thomas D. Seeley. 2010. The book explains in great detail how honey bee swarms decide on a new home and how they agree on when to move. Seeley provides his raw data in charts and graphs, as well as his conclusions and insights. The book is not easy reading (you have to pay attention), but it’s packed with interesting tidbits about swarms. Good photos, too. Honeybee Democracy

Bees: A Natural History by Christopher O’Toole. 2013. This is a coffee table book about bees. (Do people still have coffee tables?) Anyway, large format with large awesome photos. It’s a good place to start if you know nothing about native species because it’s not too technical yet gives a broad overview. Fairly easy to read, a nice introduction to bees. Bees: A Natural History

The Bee: A Natural History by Noah Wilson-Rich. 2014. This book has a little of everything–a good overview of bee biology, anatomy, behavior, and evolution, as well as interesting sections on the the environmental challenges faced by bees and the interaction between bees and humans. There is even a section on beekeeping. The book covers a lot of ground without too much depth in any one area, but it is well-written and well-illustrated. The Bee: A Natural History

Bumble Bees of North America by Paul Williams, Robbin Thorp, Leif Richardson, and Sheila Colla. 2014. This is an in-depth guide to bumble bee identification. Although it will tell you everything you ever need to know about North American bumble bees, I find it difficult to use. Most of the problem lies within the genus Bombus; because bumble bees are so variable, it is extremely difficult to tell them apart. The book includes keys, photos, coloration diagrams, and excellent distribution maps–lots of information but not for the feint of heart. Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide (Princeton Field Guides)

A Sting in the Tale: My Adventures with Bumblebees by Dave Goulson. 2014. Some books I don’t want to end, and this was one. It reads like a cross between a novel and an adventure story as it follows the author’s fascination with bumble bees from childhood to the founding of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Along the way you will learn more about bumbles than you ever thought possible. A Sting in the Tale: My Adventures with Bumblebees

A Buzz in the Meadow: The Natural History of a French Farm by Dave Goulson. 2014. This is a story about how the author purchased a 33-acre farm in rural France and turned it into bumble bee habitat. Insects, flowers, wildlife, nature, and the curious mind of an entomologist makes for entertaining and readable science. I never tire of reading Goulson’s work. A Buzz in the Meadow: The Natural History of a French Farm

Field Guide to the Common Bees of California Including Bees of the Western United States by Gretchen LeBuhn. 2013. As soon as this book arrived in my mailbox, I read straight through it three times. The author selected the most common genera of bees in her location and for each genus she provides­­ detailed illustrations by Noel Pugh, a genus summary, description, similar insects, food resources, nest particulars, and flight season. She even includes a pronunciation guide. Field Guide to the Common Bees of California: Including Bees of the Western United States (California Natural History Guides)

California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists by Gordon W. Frankie et al. 2014. You don’t have to be from California to appreciate this book. The book details the basic families of bees and the plants they like using colorful photos of both. It also explains the complex relationship between bees and flowers and explores ways to build better native bee habitat. California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists

The Forgotten Pollinators by Stephen L. Buchmann and Gary Paul Nabhan. 1996. This is a book about plants, pollinators, and their amazing interdependent relationship. Well written in a story-like format, the book follows the authors’ research into the “pollination crisis” and disruption of some of the world’s most fragile ecosystems, including the rain forests. The Forgotten Pollinators

Keeping the Bees: Why All Bees Are at Risk and What We Can Do to Save Them by Laurence Packer. 2010. This is one of my favorites even though it has only four pages of photos. The book follows the adventures of Packer and his associates as they study bees here and there throughout the world. The book is packed with information about bees and bee decline. Keeping the Bees: Why All Bees Are at Risk and What We Can Do to Save Them

The Buzz about Bees: The Biology of a Superorganism by Jürgen Tautz. This is my number one choice for basic honey bee biology. Amazing photos and excellent descriptions of how the bee and the colony actually work. I refer to this book constantly. The Buzz about Bees: Biology of a Superorganism

Pollinators of Native Plants: Attract, Observe and Identify Pollinators and Beneficial insects with Native Plants by Heather Holm. 2014. This book looks at native plants and the pollinators and beneficial insects that are attracted to them. The author divides the native plants into different habitat types, shows what they need to thrive, and describes what pollinators and beneficials you will most likely see. Pollinators of Native Plants: Attract, Observe and Identify Pollinators and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants

Bee by Rose-Lynn Fisher. 2010. This is picture book for honey bee lovers. The photographs, taken with the aid of an electron microscope, reveal the honey bee and all her parts in stunning detail. Whether you are a beekeeper, gardener, photographer or just curious, this book is a joy. There is nothing like seeing the parts up close to understand how they all work together to pollinate our world. Bee

Bees: An Up-Close Look at Pollinators Around the World by Sam Droege and Laurence Packer. 2015. This is essentially a picture book, but the photos are far from ordinary. The book contains extreme close-ups of some of the worlds most fascinating bees with write-ups about each one. Bees: An Up-Close Look at Pollinators Around the World

The Bees In Your Backyard: A Guide to North America’s Bees by Joseph S. Wilson and Olivia Messinger Carril. 2016. My new favorite. The book is chock-full of identification tips, including photos of wing veins, detailed depictions of facial patterns, tongue diagrams, and photos of similar genera. Each genus has a pronunciation guide, a size-range diagram, a distribution map that shows not only where the bee occurs but also the likelihood of occurrence in that area. Best, the book contains hundreds of little highlighted text boxes that reveal bee trivia, and the whole thing is well-written and easy to understand. The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America’s Bees

Honey Bee Parasites, Pests, Predators, and Diseases by Penn State College of Agricultural Services. 1999. This is a handy little spiral-bound book with good photos of honey bee ailments. I use it frequently for the pictures, but I find it a little out of date with no mention of Nosema ceranae, colony collapse, or many of the viruses. Also it leans heavily toward chemical solutions rather than management and prevention. Good news: there is a new edition (2005). Honey Bee Parasites, Pests and Predators & Diseases

The Queen Must Die: And Other Affairs of Bees and Men by William Longgood. 1985. This is the only bee book I’ve asked my husband (not a beekeeper) to read. The author interweaves plenty of good information about bees and beekeeping with thoughts and reflections on nature and mankind. I highly recommend this one. The Queen Must Die: And Other Affairs of Bees and Men

Beeing: Life, Motherhood, and 180,000 Honeybees by Rosanne Daryl Thomas. 2002. This is a nature memoir about a recently divorced woman who rebuilds her life around bees. The writing is lyrical, the story is novel-like, and her descriptions of beekeeping are entertaining. Beeing: Life, Motherhood, and 180,000 Honeybees

The ABC & XYZ of Bee Culture, 41st edition by A.I. Root Company. 2007. The book has a little of everything, but because it tries to cover every conceivable topic, it doesn’t go into depth about anything. It does have some good photos and a few sections are fairly complete. Oddly, about half of the book is biographical information about dead beekeepers. Works well as a booster seat. The ABC & XYZ of Bee Culture: An Encyclopedia Pertaining to the Scientific and Practical Culture of Honey Bees

The Backyard Beekeeper: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden by Kim Flottum. 2005. This very popular book is not my favorite. It’s hard to say why, but I think it is confusing to beginners, perhaps because of the way the material is presented or the order. Not sure. It didn’t give me a warm-puppy feeling when I read it. I think it spends too much time pushing eight-frame equipment, and the candle-making and recipe sections should be in a separate book. Good glossary and photos. Backyard Beekeeper

The Beekeepers’s Handbook, Fourth Edition by Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile. 2011. This is my first choice for an overall beginner how-to book. The sequence is logical, the explanations are clear and concise, and it gives you enough to get going without overwhelming your brain. Many clear diagrams, bulleted lists, and appendices. If you can buy only one beekeeper book, buy this one. The downside to the third edition: the shape of the book (short and wide) is really annoying and it doesn’t fit on many bookshelves. Why did they do that? The Beekeeper’s Handbook

The Quest for the Perfect Hive: A History of Innovation in Bee Culture by Gene Kritsky. 2010. The book is a history of hive design from ancient times to the present, including drawings, photos and descriptions of what worked, what didn’t, and why some hives were more popular than others regardless of how they worked. This book is a pleasure to read and gives good insights into how beekeeping today is strongly rooted in the past. The Quest for the Perfect Hive: A History of Innovation in Bee Culture