The Complete Guide to Beekeeping

In collaboration with Sheila Berrett

A comprehensive guide to bees and beekeeping, starting with the novice and ending with the semi-expert! It tells you all you need to know about taking up beekeeping on a small scale.

Most of this book is based on ‘The Magic Number 3’, and it is therefore divided into the three year life of the queen bee – the first year the bee colony becomes established, the second it reaches maximum effectiveness, the third year it swarms. However there are limited hard and fast rules about beekeeping, not least because the vagaries of a climate such as the UK’s will upset any supposed tables. A cold, wet spell at the wrong time can play havoc with a bee hive’s honey production, which means that a beekeeper must be able to assess what his bees are doing and what they require next at any given time of the year.

This book will give you the basic ground rules of that knowledge, starting as a beginner, and ‘qualifying’ as an experienced beekeeper at the end of the three years. The problems you may encounter during the first year are dealt with in the troubleshooting section at the end of that year; after that we take a look at some more specialised applications and point you in the right directions to become more specialised still . . .

Starting Beekeeping

When and where; hives and beekeeping equipment; buying secondhand; understanding honeybees.

Siting Your Bees

Selecting a site; hiving your bees; feeding your bees; looking through the hive; avoiding bee stings.

A Thriving Colony

Adding supers; using a queen excluder; how bees forage; the honey flow; taking off honey.

Wintering Down

Preparing and feeding the hive for winter; mice, damp. wax moth and other enemies.

The Second Year

Spring cleaning; getting a second hive; oil seed rape; the June gap’; problems with a poor harvest.

Planning Ahead

Keeping the queen in charge; requeening; making a nuc.


Why bees swarm; swarms in action; catching and hiving a swarm; drone laying queens and other problems.

The Third Year And Beyond

Three years’ beekeeping summary; commercial beekeeping; migratory hives.

Honeybee Products

Honey for sale; honey for show; honey recipes; making mead; wax extracting; beeswax polish and candles; propolis and medicinal properties.

Honeybee Problems

‘Killer bees; bee pests and diseases.

Bees in History

Beekeeping from BC to the present century.


Glossary of beekeeping terms and information packed appendices.

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