Top 10 Beginner Beekeeping Books
Are you interested in becoming a beekeeper, but you just don’t know where to start first? In beekeeping, the quickest way to either kill your new bees or watch them abscond (leave) is to ‘wing it’. Becoming educated about this new hobby is critical to being a successful beekeeper. This list of Top 10 Beginner Beekeeping Books will get you started down the right path!
Getting connected with your local beekeeping club is important too. Just do a Google Search on “beekeeping club” or “beekeeping association” in your local area to find your local beekeeper association. However, you may live far enough outside a major city that there is not a local beekeeping club near you. In this case, it is helpful to join a beekeeping group on FaceBook like my group “Beekeeping for Beginners” where the topics are about issues most beginners are facing and where an understanding group of mentors don’t mind answering the same questions over and over again. By connecting with experienced beekeepers, you’ll not only learn a few tips and tricks from the members, but also gain an entirely new set of friends with like-minded interests.
If you’re not quite ready to plunge into beekeeping yet, one of the best ways to learn more about it is by checking out the books recommended below. Each book covers everything you need to know to get started in beekeeping. The only thing you’ll still need to figure out is where to buy your equipment and bees and where to place your hives once you are ready to set them up.
I recommend reading at least a couple of the Beginner Beekeeping books below before you purchase anything. You’ll learn what beekeeping equipment you need and how it is used, what is required and what is not, hive inspection techniques, hive management concerns, pest and disease management, how to extract your honey, and you’ll learn all about the different roles of honeybees inside a hive. Understanding all of this information is essential for you to become a successful beekeeper.
In order to make it into the following list, these books had to meet some criteria that I consider essential in case the one book you read ends up being the ONLY Beginner Beekeeping book you ever read.
To make it on this list, a Beginner Beekeeping book must have included the following:
- They need to include all the essential beekeeping topics, such as equipment needed; pests and disease management; how to inspect your hive (you’d be surprised how many books don’t cover this topic); how to change the way you manage your hives with the seasons; how to extract your honey; and basic information about honey bees, their life cycle, and jobs they perform during that life cycle.
- Books needed to cover common beekeeping practices. If they recommended chemical treatments that are questionable as to whether they are even legal to use or not, treatment free beekeeping, or completely experimental hive types, they didn’t make the cut. New beekeepers need to understand the most common practices used to keep bees before they play around with non-standard practices.
- The books shouldn’t contain a lot of grammatical and spelling errors, should offer concise explanations, and should not be written in a format that reads more like a technical reference manual. If the book isn’t easy to read, you might put it down before you even finish it.
- Lastly, the book must be current. There are a lot of great Intermediate and even Advanced Beekeeping books out there, however, many of them were written 30-100 years ago. Many things have changed in beekeeping since those books were written. We now face pests and diseases that the authors who wrote those books never faced.
I hope you enjoy my review of these recommended books. For the most part, most of these books are listed in no particular order, other than the first book, which happens to be my personal favorite.
Links are included below so that you can purchase any of the books on Amazon. Just click on any of the book pictures or book titles throughout the rest of this article, and it will take you to a link where you can preview the inside of the book as well as purchase it.
- Beekeeping for Dummies, 4th Edition (2017) – By Howland Blackiston
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping, 4th Edition (2010) – By Dean Stiglitz
- The Backyard Beekeeper, 4th Edition: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden, 4th Edition (2018) – By Kim Flottum
- The Beekeepers Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses, 1st Edition (2011) – By Richard Jones
- Homegrown Honey Bees: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Beekeeping Your First Year, from Hiving to Honey Harvest, 1st Edition (2013) – By Alethea Morrison
- Homemade Living: Keeping Bees with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Tend Hives, Harvest Honey & More, 1st Edition (2011) – By Ashley English
- Beginning Beekeeping: Everything You Need to Make Your Hive Thrive!, 1st Edition (2017) – By Tanya Phillips
- The Beekeepers Handbook, 4th Edition (2011) – By Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile
- The Complete Step-by-Step Book of Beekeeping, 1st Edition (2012) – By David Cramp
- The Bee Book, 1st Edition (2016) – By DK, Emma Tennant, and Fergus Chadwick
I know I said that this list of Top 10 Best Beginner Beekeeping Books is in no particular order; however, I’m going to veer away from that claim with this particular book. This book is my #1 top pick in the list.
When a potential new beekeeper asks me where they should start, this is the first book that I recommend they read. Beekeeping for Dummies covers all of the essential beginner topics that someone needs to know to get familiar with the terminology of beekeeping. It explains bee biology, castes, and roles throughout their life cycle. It gives you an all-inclusive list of required and optional basic beekeeping equipment you’ll need to buy or consider buying, including a discussion of the different types of hives in which you can put your bees. There is detailed information about how to inspect your hives, and what pests and diseases bees you may encounter. The author also explains how hive management changes with the seasons. And, it discusses what you’ll need to harvest your honey and how to do it. And there is also some discussion about how to prepare your hives for Winter.
The format of Beekeeping for Dummies is laid out in chapters in an easy-to-read format. Although the book is about an inch thick, it’s actually a fairly quick read. I highly recommend that you start out by reading this book first.
Check it out here ==> Beekeeping for Dummies, 4th Edition (2017) – By Howland Blackiston
After a brief introduction to the world of beekeeping, this book dives into discussing the different castes of honeybees and what makes each of them unique. Next, it discusses the basic beekeeping equipment that is essential for starting the most common type of hive, the Langstroth hive. Then, it discusses where to get your bees, how to setup a hive stand in the right location, and what natural predators of bees might exist in the area around your hive(s)’ location.
This book goes into a little bit more detail about when and why to feed your bees. There is a definite strategy around supplementing your bees’ diet with supplemental feed, and at certain times of the year, it can help stimulate egg-laying to increase honey production at just the right time, or it can help get your bees through a dearth (period during the Summer where there is not enough food). Feeding your bees can also be beneficial during that time just as Spring is starting when they have depleted their food stores and no nectar flow has started yet.
This book also covers hive inspection techniques, pests, diseases, and talks briefly about the importance of queens and buying queens from good breeders. It also discusses the honey harvest, how to prepare your hives for Winter, and the business side of raising bees.
This is a great book for beginners, and I really like the amount of coverage of the topics in each section. It’s in-depth enough to get a beginner up to speed quickly, but not so much information that the beginner has to learn a bunch of intermediate beekeeping strategies all at the same time.
You can check it out here ==>
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping, 4th Edition (2010) – By Dean Stiglitz
3. The Backyard Beekeeper, 4th Edition: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden, 4th Edition (2018) – By Kim Flottum
Kim Flottum is a horticulturist and avid writer and editor for beekeeping articles and the magazine “Bee Culture” who has been around bees, beekeeping, and beekeepers for over forty years. This book is one of several which Kim has written, and in it he covers everything you need to know to get started in beekeeping. He also has a couple of follow-up books for beekeepers who are newer, called “Beekeeping, Your First Three Years”; and for those who are beginning to figure out that there is a definite strategy behind being a successful beekeeper, he has written “Better Beekeeping: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Stronger Colonies and Healthier, More Productive Bees”.
The Backyard Beekeeper is formatted very well in an easy-to-read format that includes not only an explanation of the topic being discussed in each chapter, but that also includes text insets that discuss certain topics in more detail (if one is interested in the “whys” behind a topic). The text insets serve to provide a very well-rounded amount of information on each topic that will help the new beekeeper gain a much better understanding of more complex topics.
There are also pictures provided throughout the book that help illustrate certain points such as beekeeping equipment, its uses, and how to inspect a hive. You won’t see hive inspection techniques illustrated with photos in most beekeeping books.
In this book, you’ll learn a brief history of beekeeping, where to setup your hives, about bee biology, beekeeping equipment you’ll need, how to inspect your hives, pest and disease management, and how the hive inspection schedule changes throughout the year.
You will learn all of the basics that you need to know to get started in beekeeping with The Backyard Beekeeper. I like that it is easy to read and does such a great job of illustrating important topics like hive inspections. If you’re a visual person, sometimes seeing how something is done will “click” with you better than someone telling you how it’s done.
4. The Beekeepers Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses, 1st Edition (2011) – By Richard Jones
The Beekeepers Bible is only available in hardback form, so you will pay anywhere from $26 on Amazon up to $35 (the suggested retail price) if you buy it at your local bookstore. This is one of the larger, more comprehensive beekeeping books for beginners that is available. It covers just about everything there is to cover with beekeeping, however, some of the areas are more generalized than other books because so much material is getting covered. It contains lots and lots of beautiful photos and pictures of beekeeping, both past and present. The format of this book more closely resembles a textbook one would read in college. So, the format is not as easy-to-read as some other books out there. However, it is laid out very well, proofread well, and gets straight to the point when explaining a subject rather than rambling on for pages and pages like some beekeeping books tend to do.
This book is laid out in five parts. Each part goes into certain subjects in much more detail, however there is no Table of Contents at the beginning of the book, which can make it very difficult to find a section you’d like to read about without turning to the index for guidance.
Part one covers the history of beekeeping and how beekeeping has evolved over time. It also discusses some of the more recent advances in beekeeping and how the European honeybee spread throughout the world.
Part two discusses the biology, life cycle, methods of communication, and social system of the honeybee. It also discusses the different types of honeybees, how we can provide bee habitats and bee-friendly gardens, and various threats to the honeybees.
Part three explains the different types of hives, where to keep your bees, hive inspection techniques, pests and diseases, the beekeeping calendar, swarm management, when to feed your bees, and how to harvest honey and/or beeswax from your bees.
Part four discusses the medicinal benefits of honey, the causes of different colored honey, and many other uses for bees besides just honey and beeswax, including propolis, bee venom therapy, and consuming pollen they have collected.
Part five lists out all sorts of wonderful honey recipes for food and drinks as well as many recipes for beauty products, medicinal products such as cough syrups, and homemade crafts that can be made with beeswax and honey.
If you like more of a textbook format when learning something new that requires you to learn a LOT of information in order to get started, this book is for you!
You can check it out here ==> The Beekeepers Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses, 1st Edition (2011) – By Richard Jones
5. Homegrown Honey Bees: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Beekeeping Your First Year, from Hiving to Honey Harvest, 1st Edition (2013) – By Alethea Morrison
If you are more of a visual learner, this is a great beginner beekeeping book for you. This book is divided up into short, easily digestible sections that cover the most important things you need to know to become a beekeeper.
The photos that are included in this book are used to demonstrate everything from how to light your smoker and what smoker fuel to use, how to install your bees, what to look for during hive inspections, how to conduct the inspection, and to illustrate what specific hive problems you should watch for as you take care of your bees.
The various chapters of the book are further divided into checklists and tables. If you’re a person who needs a checklist to make sure you aren’t forgetting important actions you need to remember, this book is packed with them!
There is a great section on varroa mite control. It includes information about why it is important to keep mites under control, how to test to see if your hive has mites, and the best ways to treat for them.
There is also a nice section on Winter preparation and storage. Making sure your hive is prepared before Winter sets in is critical in some areas of the world with long, cold Winters with no available food for your bees until Spring. This section covers how to make sure your hive is ready for Winter.
This is a great book and a short read. It is written in an easily readable format and includes lots of great visual aids to help ensure you are grasping the content that is written.
6. Homemade Living: Keeping Bees with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Tend Hives, Harvest Honey & More, 1st Edition (2011) – By Ashley English
This book is only available in hardback format. So, it might cost a little more than some of the other books listed here. It covers all of the most important basics and does a great job of explaining things like how to install your bees into their new hive, how to inspect your hive, how to manage your hives as the seasons change, and how to keep your hive healthy by managing the pests and diseases that may affect your bees.
In this book, you’ll learn about the physiology of the bee, the different jobs a bee has inside the hive, and how bees communicate. You’ll also learn about things you need to consider before becoming a beekeeper such as cost, your neighbors, local laws, and whether your pets and children will be safe around your bees.
You’ll learn about the different types of hives and beekeeping equipment you’ll need to get started, as well as how it is used. It also discusses how to obtain bees for your hive and how to install them into their new home.
One of the most critical things to learn about beekeeping is how to properly inspect your hives. This book includes a great checklist of do’s and don’ts for hive inspections as well as step-by-step instructions on how to inspect your hive, including pictures to demonstrate the steps. You’ll learn what to look for and how to recognize problems during your inspection, and most importantly, how to properly deal with any problems you identify.
There is a very detailed chapter about how to care for your bees throughout the year, with a checklist for early Spring, mid to late Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. It also includes common problems to watch for during these periods, such as swarm prevention, why you need to reverse your hive bodies (and what this even means), how to make splits, and when you should think about requeening.
This book contains a very detailed chapter on pest and disease management. You’ll learn about common diseases such as American Foulbrood, European Foulbrood, Nosema, Chalkbrood, Varoa Mites, Small Hive Beetles, Tracheal Mites, and other problem critters such as bears, mice, and skunks. Included in this chapter are common ways to treat for these pests and diseases.
There is also a detailed chapter that explains how to know when it is time to harvest your honey, how to remove the honey properly from your hives, and what tools you’ll need to extract the honey. Then, there is a step-by-step explanation of how to extract your honey using an extractor, including pictures illustrating each step.
And finally, the last chapter of the book includes some yummy recipes that you can make with honey like honey mustard vinaigrette, infused honey with herbs like cinnamon, allspice, or cloves, and honey ice cream.
7. Beginning Beekeeping: Everything You Need to Make Your Hive Thrive!, 1st Edition (2017) – By Tanya Phillips
This book is beautifully formatted in an easy-to-read format with lots of well-done professional photographs included that help illustrate concepts that are being discussed. It also includes insets that include more information if you’d like to do a deeper dive into a particular concept that is introduced.
Also included in this book are more than one way to perform a specific action. And, the author includes an inset called “The Beekeepers Notebook” where she explains the way she does things and whether or not they are a slight variation on the standard way of doing things. I think this is very helpful to offer the “why” behind the variation because in beekeeping there is always more than one way to perform an action. And, it is helpful to know why you might choose one action over another.
Tanya Phillips covers honeybee development, the different roles of worker bees, how bees communicate, and what they eat. She also covers the history of beekeeping, common hive types, what beekeeping equipment you’ll need, where to put your hives, how to install your bees, and even how to attract and catch bee swarms.
You’ll also learn how to maintain your hives and common problems that you’ll need to avoid, like controlling overcrowding within the hive, controlling robbing of your hive, how to prevent them from absconding, how to know if you have a laying worker, how to make sure your queen is healthy and productive, how to perform a hive inspection and what you should be looking for during the inspection. She also covers pests and diseases that you’ll need to watch for and how to treat for them.
And, she also provides a seasonal beekeeping calendar so that you’ll know throughout the year what you need to be watching and preparing for with your hives. Included in this section is information about feeding your bees, when to do it, and what to feed them.
Finally, she discusses how to harvest your honey and wax from your hives. She discusses what equipment you’ll need to buy to extract your honey, how to know when it is time to extract your honey, how to extract and filter the honey, and how to bottle and label it properly. She also explains how to process the wax so that it can be used to make various by-products such as candles, lip balm, and lotion bars.
This is a comprehensive, well-formatted, and well-written beginner beekeeping book. If you’re a visual learner, you’ll benefit from the explanations that are given utilizing photographs to support the explanation, and if you really enjoy getting down into the details of the “why” around a topic, you’ll like the extra details that are included in the inset explanations that are given about various topics.
You can check it Tanya Phillips’ book here ==> Beginning Beekeeping: Everything You Need to Make Your Hive Thrive!, 1st Edition (2017) – By Tanya Phillips
If you are someone who is really into understanding the details, the “whys”, the pros and cons of each way of doing things, and don’t mind being offered multiple ways to perform the same task, you might really like The Beekeepers Handbook. There are illustrations provided here, when needed only, to explain certain topics, but this book will probably be liked by someone who really likes to sit down and just read a good book. The illustrations to explain topics are limited, but the authors go into a lot of detail to explain each concept. It is a very well-formatted book with an easy-to-read format.
If you are more of a visual learner and require pictures to explain concepts, this book might not be the book for you. Also, if you do not enjoy going into minute details about different topics, you might find all the extra information provided in this book to be more information than you care to read.
This book covers everything you need to know to get started in beekeeping. It covers the history of beekeeping, the physiology of bees and their roles within the hive, and it also covers the beneficial microbes that live inside the hive and their role in keeping the hive healthy.
It also covers an extensive list of beekeeping equipment and how each piece of equipment is used. This book only discusses Langstroth hives, so if you are interested in a different hive type, you won’t find information on that in here.
The authors also include different ways that you can obtain your bees, the pros and cons of each, and tell you how to install your bees. They also include a very detailed explanation of how to inspect your hives and when and what to feed them.
This book has a very lengthy section about pest and disease management and how to manage for other common problems within a hive. There are very helpful symptom checklists and possible causes and resolutions for the problems listed for each type of pest or disease you may encounter.
There is also a helpful section on how to manage your hive differently as the seasons change. The section describing Winter preparation is especially detailed and helpful.
This book also goes into a topic that is typically more of an intermediate beekeeping topic – queen breeding. It discusses the different methods of growing your own queens and how to get them mated. There is enough information about this topic to give you a taste of what is involved in making a new queen, but not enough information for you to be prepared to go out and start making your own queens. For that, I’d recommend looking at Queen Rearing Essentials by Lawrence John Connor (Click here to check out this book). The Beekeepers Handbook also goes into quite a bit of detail about how to requeen a defensive or “hot” hive.
Overall, this is a very well-written, comprehensive book for beginner beekeepers. Particularly concerning pest management, this book provides a lot of information about how to keep your hives healthy.
You can check it out here ==> The Beekeepers Handbook, 4th Edition (2011) – By Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile
This book is only offered in hard cover format, thus, it is a little bit more expensive than some of the other options here. Many people like buying this book to put on their coffee table because each section of the book contains a lot of very good professional photographs to help explain the topic being covered.
This book is not quite as detailed with its explanations on various topics as some of the other books, relying more on photography to explain some of the details of certain processes. So, if you’re looking for in-depth explanations, this might not be the book for you. However, some people are visual learners, so they will grasp the concepts being explained here easier because there are so many photographs utilized to explain the covered topics.
You’ll learn in this book why we are so dependent upon honeybees for survival. It also discusses some of the different types of honeybees available to new beekeepers as well as other important factors to consider before becoming a beekeeper, including good locations for your hives and what type of hive equipment you should get.
You’ll also learn all of the components of a hive, how to get your bees into it, and how to inspect your hive properly. It also includes a bee calendar that will help you know what you should be focused on with your bees at different times of the year. There is also a section on pest and disease management and one about harvesting your honey. It also includes a section that discusses how to plant a bee-friendly garden for your bees.
If you’re interested in taking things beyond simply harvesting honey, you can also read about how to rear and breed queens for resale, how to make products for sale out of your honey and beeswax, and how to enter competitions with your honey.
This book is a good overview of how to get started in beekeeping, but in order to get all the information you need to be a successful beekeeper, you might need to also purchase one of the other books suggested here that go into a bit more detail about each topic.
If you’d like to take a look at what people are saying about this book, you can check it out here ==> The Complete Step-by-Step Book of Beekeeping, 1st Edition (2012) – By David Cramp
The Bee Book is only available in hard cover format, so this book costs a little more than some of your paperback books. This is a good supplemental beginner book to have in addition to one of the other recommended beginner books mentioned here, but I would not rely on this one as the only beginner beekeeping book to read. It is formatted more like a textbook, and divides each section up into 2-page sections per topic. So, if you want to leave it on your coffee table and just pick it up and read one or two topics at a time, it will be great for that. It is not the comprehensive, all-in-one book that Beekeeping for Dummies is, however.
If you have kids who want to learn about bees or if you’re a highly visual learner, this book would be a good book for you. There are lots of textbook-like illustrations that explain the topics, and the topics are written in short, easily digestible chunks that won’t overwhelm you with all of the information given. Older kids who are reading the book will find the illustrations great for explaining the topics without having to read through pages and pages of text just to understand the topic.
This book covers the different types of bees and why honeybees are currently struggling to stay alive. It also discusses ways that we can attract bees to our yard and help provide them with food.
There is a brief section that includes what beekeeping equipment will be needed, but the authors do not go into much detail about the variations of some of the tools they may encounter or how the tools are used.
There is a detailed explanation using lots of helpful photographs of how to install your bees and how to inspect your hives. There is also a detailed section on pest management and managing your hives for overcrowding, catching swarms, and queen problems.
If you’re interested in using your honey and beeswax for other products, there is a large section of this book that discusses different things you can make. It includes recipes for sunburn lotion, exfoliating scrubs, foot balms, bubble baths, cough drops, cough syrup, and vapor rubs.
This is a great supplemental book to have in your collection of beginner beekeeping books. It is especially appropriate for older children who are interested in beekeeping, someone who is a visual learner, or someone who does better reading things broken up into smaller, more easily digestible chunks (like someone with a short attention span).
You can check it out here ==> The Bee Book, 1st Edition (2016) – By DK, Emma Tennant, and Fergus Chadwick
I hope that you will find this list of Top 10 Beginner Beekeeping Books helpful as you start out on your beekeeping journey. Beekeeping is one of the fastest growing hobbies right now, but it isn’t one that you can begin without educating yourself. This list of books will get you started down the right path!