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It’s the bee’s knees: learning about urban beekeeping

Posted on January 31, 2017 at 6:00 am

By David Wyatt

“The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.”Henry David Thoreau

In the midst of February is probably not when most of us would be thinking of bees. However, it is an excellent time to plan for spring and think happy thoughts of the warmer seasons ahead. As part of our Urban Farming series, Ellen Miller from the West Plains Beekeepers Association will be presenting an introduction to beekeeping, including what you need to know and what responsibilities beekeepers take on.

Introduction to Beekeeping
OTIS ORCHARDS
Saturday, February 25, 10:30–11:30am

You can find over 100 useful resource links on the West Plains Beekeepers Association’s Resources page on beekeeping. And to help you get primed for the upcoming class, I’ve compiled an interesting hodgepodge of how-to books, documentaries, fiction, and even children’s books:


Save the Bees with Natural Backyard Hives, by Rob and Chelsea McFarland

Founders of the nonprofit HoneyLove, the McFarlands have written an accessible guide to setting up your own hive chemical free. This book is a good place to start if you want to get a feel for the time, work, and money involved in starting your own hive. Since the McFarlands started as hobbyists, they came at this from the same direction as many of us would.


The Rooftop Beekeeper, by Megan Paska with Rachel Wharton

Do you live in an urban area? Don’t have much of a yard? If you answered yes to either, then this may be the beekeeping book for you. What made this stand out was the use of first person narrative that provides a personable introduction. It includes both useful photos and beautiful illustrations/illuminations. I am always susceptible to well-designed books, and in addition to the standard how-to-start-up-a-hive segment, this title also includes recipes.


More Than Honey, directed by Markus Imhoof

If you are not quite ready to delve into guide books and all of the link resources, give this documentary a try. Beautiful cinematography distinguishes this award-winning film by Markus Imhoof from other films tackling the same topic. Dwindling bee populations is not a new concern, but the curiosity and hope of this film makes it worthwhile. Also, I’m not completely letting you off the hook reading-wise though—the film is in German, with English subtitles. See also 2009’s Vanishing of the Bees.


Mary Russell’s War: and Other Stories of Suspense, by Laurie R. King

Beginning with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (2006 Spokane is Reading selection), author Laurie R. King has successfully captured what we love about the world’s greatest detective for over two decades, through the eyes of Mary Russell. This latest collection includes a short story, “Beekeeping for Beginners,” which retells Holmes and Russell’s first meeting from his perspective while searching the Sussex Downs for wild bees. The book collects several short stories; however, if you only want to read Beekeeping for Beginners, it is also available on its own through OverDrive.


It’s a Good Thing There Are Bees, by Lisa M. Herrington

For young readers, this book offers an informative look at the basics of bees. Great close-up photos of bees accompany the text, as well as “Fun Facts!”, making this enjoyable even for adults. I especially appreciated how many flowers a bee visits to make just one pound of honey (answer: two million!). It really puts that jar of honey at home into perspective.

Little Honey Bee, by James Ormes

This beautifully illustrated board book would make an excellent selection for storytime. Practice counting all the different flowers throughout the book and all the various colors you can identify too. Animals, bees, and even a beehive hide behind flaps from beginning to end.

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