EdibleNotesReviews's Reviews > Keeping Bees with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Tend Hives, Harvest Honey & More

Keeping Bees with Ashley English by Ashley English
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's review
Feb 18, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: local-food, beekeeping
Read in February, 2011

Beekeeping is hot. It seems that everyone is interested in it – from home gardeners to urban farmers to locavore entrepreneurs these days. Anyone ‘stung’ by the idea of keeping bees will not find a clearer, more useful or better written book about basic beekeeping than Keeping Bees by DIY living expert Ashley English.

We have to admit, we’ve been taken with the idea too, with classes taken and suggested texts on the subject feverishly read. But not until reading this wonderful book did the idea sink in that we could actually do this. Other well-meaning authors – mostly professional beekeepers, scientists and serious hobbyists, are all too quick to pass by the essentials of the subject and rely too often on insider-jargon. None of them have found the way to explain the life of honey bees, the beauty of beekeeping or the pleasures and challenges of helping these marvelous creatures to help us – all of which English does with an easy, trusted and highly knowledgeable style.

Bees are complicated creatures with a short, highly productive lifespan and beekeeping is certainly not something to half-heartedly take up. As with most things in the natural world, actions have results and consequences. Ignorance, mistakes or misguided information can lead to the unintended and readers will find confidence at the hand of English – or least enough confidence to know what questions to ask of a more experienced keeper.

A book doesn’t necessarily have to answer all of a reader’s questions but it should not leave a reader with more questions than when they started or without the resources to inquire further. This fact is not lost on English and a great job is done in this tidy, stylish and easy to read book to answer questions and give the resources to learn more.

The modern design of the book from cover to cover is appealing and useful – more information is presented in text and in photos combined to great efficiency. English’s clear organization and easy to follow style allows the reader to decide on their own speed of entry into beekeeping as a hobby or profession. Profiles of beekeepers, enthusiasts, chefs, advocates and professional apiarists from around the country dot the book at meaningful moments, adding to the colorful hive-world. The photo-work is especially informative and high quality, a welcome addition to the step-by-step methods for many of the hobby’s functions.

The point of honey bee keeping is to help them pollinate the flora in the world around us. By way of cooperation and work, we can receive the benefit of their work in doing so – honey and wax. English covers not only the harvesting and processing of honey (with a number of options as to how best to accomplish this) but includes a number of inspiring recipes using the sweet profits. An up-to-date resource section is included which is far better than such searching the internet – these resources have been reviewed and selected to improve the experience of the reader, a vast improvement on other texts and certainly better than blindly searching the internet.

It is a gracious notion that, as Marcus Tullius Cicero was quoted, “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” A garden without bees is a fruitless, pale reflection of what a garden can be. Let Keeping Bees be your guide to enjoying and gaining from our noble honeybees.
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