Hands down, the best beekeeping book for beginners

2 Feb

homegrownhoneybees-coverThis is the book I wish existed when I started beekeeping in 2008. Loaded with photos and step-by-step instructions, it’s one of the few books that will help you survive your first year, especially if you don’t have a mentor.

Homegrown Honey Bees: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Beekeeping Your First Year


  • Photos, photos, photos! Everything from eggs and larvae to wax festooning to varroa mites to Nasonov fanning gets a gorgeous photo. See examples at the end of this post.
  • Step-by-step instructions are included for a variety of beginner tasks like installing a package, lighting a smoker, and conducting your first hive check. Seasoned beekeepers often forget how scary these first steps can be.
  • A personal storyline. This book follows the author’s experience keeping backyard bees with her family. The good the bad and the ugly details are all included, making for a very forgiving and human narrative.
  • Interviews with local beeks. Backyard beekeepers from San Francisco to Austin to Chicago are highlighted throughout the book. (I’m on page 47. Yay.) The sheer variety of beekeepers presented makes a new beek feel comfortable developing their own unique approach.
  • A natural approach. Most books I used in my first year were very chemical-centric and solely devoted to Langstroth hives. This book primarily covers Langstroth hives but also discusses top bar hives and pays more than just lip-service to a chemical-free approach.

homegrownhoneybees-day1 homegrownhoneybees-checking


Once you have a full year of beekeeping under your belt, you’ll want to move on to more substantial reference books like The Beekeeper’s Handbook or The Practical Beekeeper.


3 Responses to “Hands down, the best beekeeping book for beginners”

  1. P H February 3, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    Just bought this from Chapters, Planing my first hive this spring, Thanks for the tip.

  2. sam3abq December 26, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

    Wow! Just bought this book today from B&N on the westside. I live Downtown and am in the beginnings steps of an Urban Homestead for our home. We have chicks arriving this spring and have been sucked into the idea of bee keeping too. Came across Abq. Bee keepers website and now your site . I would really like to be prepared to start two hives in the spring of 2015. Any recommendations on how I get there ? Thanks – Sam.

    • westernwilson March 27, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

      I like this book a lot, particularly for new-bees. It is honest and uncomplicated.

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