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The Practical Beekeeper: Beekeeping Naturally Hardcover – June 16, 2011
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From the Author
I feel like G.M. Doolittle when he said he had already offered all of what he had to say for free in the bee journals and yet people kept asking for a book. I have virtually all of this on my website and have posted all of it many times on the bee forums. But many people have asked for a book. There is a little new here, and most of it is available for free already on my web site. But many of us understand the transient nature of the medium of the web and want a solid book on our shelf. I feel the same. So here is the book that you could already have read for free but you can hold it in your hands and put it on the shelf and know you have it.
I've done a lot of presentations and a few have been posted on the web. If you have an interest in hearing some of this presented by me try a web search for videos for "Michael Bush beekeeping" or other topics such as "queen rearing".
About the Author
Michael Bush has had an eclectic set of careers from printing and graphic arts, to construction to computer programming and a few more in between. Currently he is working in computers. He has been keeping bees since the mid 70's, usually from two to seven hives up until the year 2000. Varroa forced more experimentation which required more hives and the number has grown steadily over the years from then. By 2008 it was about 200 hives. He is active on many of the Beekeeping forums with last count at over 50,000 posts between all of them.
"His writing is like his talks, with more content, detail, and depth than one would think possible with such few words...his website and PowerPoint presentations are the gold standard for diverse and common sense beekeeping practices."--Dean Stiglitz
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Top Customer Reviews
I think it's important to understand the genesis of this book, when considering its value and whether to buy it or not. The author describes it as "accidental." Basically, he was a very active participant in various online beekeeping forums, and eventually, his accumulated written wisdom made a nice thick pile of paper that many people find valuable in book form. That's what this is.
The author is a contrarian; his advice runs counter to what most books on the subject recommend. I hope he's right....
This book is easy to pick on, as a product. It's not a very elegant how-to manual, as it isn't particularly procedural: no "first do this, then do that." Rather, it's an accumulation of wisdom, musings, and opinions about various beekeeping practices. The publishing quality is a little rocky, though clean. A gifted developmental editor and copyeditor could have made it a bit more practical, reduced some redundancy, fixed some snafus, filled in some gaps, and so on. And there is room for improvement regarding the design. The photos are snapshots, the type formatting is amateurish (though thoughtful), and the overall organization is a bit cumbersome. It could have been smaller, less expensive, cleaner, and more actionable.
All that said, it doesn't claim to be anything other than an accidental product. The author himself suggests that people should just read the information for free on the Web (bushfarms dot com). He talks about it on YouTube in a video via HoneyLove. Perhaps, trying to make this book more polished would have actually caused it to never get into print.
So, ultimately, I'm glad that it exists. I think it will be about five years before I can comment on the efficacy of his advice for keeping bees in Massachusetts, but he's opened my eyes to many new possibilities, and I have high hopes that ultimately, reading this will make me a better beekeeper.
The first class I took in beginning beekeeping, spring of 2009, taught by the then Utah State Apiarist, had me so frazzled, worried about diseases (nosema and American foul brood), pests (varroa and tracheal mites), and more (Yikes!), that I spent most of my first year worrying about my "livestock" ladies, the bees. I think I pestered Michael Bush quite a bit via email as well, but he patiently answered my questions with down-to-earth advice. For the first month, I was too afraid to even open up my first 10-frame deep colony I purchased as a complete "beehive kit" from one of the local beekeeping suppliers.
In any case, now I have this book that is one of the best to add to your beekeeper's arsenal of reference texts. It answers just about any question you may have with Michael's long-time experience with the bees. The big message that I've learned is that the bees have minds of their own, and don't follow human rules, and sometimes it seems that they know our "rules" and are contrarian enough to do exactly the opposite of what we would expect. They will do what they will do. What the best beekeeper can do is to keep up with the hive-colony, pay attention to swarm control in the spring, monitor their activity, but don't bother them too much by opening their hive too often. What Michael Bush's book will give you is confidence as you pay attention to what the hive has to tell you. AND he recommends a minimal or no treatments that interfere with the natural aspect of honey bee livestock culture.
Michael Bush's concept of "Lazy Beekeeping" is what really kept me going. I've even taken the minority-route (at least for my local area) and am running 8-frame medium hive boxes, which don't weigh as much when full of honey, comb and bees as the 10-frame deep boxes.
As I said above, this is one reference book for beekeepers of all levels that we cannot do without!
Thanks Michael, for sharing your expertise with all of us.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Micheal Bush Lives BEES
He has all the answers