The book of the month

You can find here all the books recommended by the association members. All books from the association’s Library are available to borrow. Collection can be organised during a monthly Association meeting.



September 2019

The Beekeeper’s Field Guide by David Cramp.

It is a compact reference book which can be used as a first port of call or a handy reminder of all the basics. It’s especially useful for less experienced beekeepers and, while not quite pocket-sized, could be kept with your beekeeping kit for immediate consultation before and after inspections.

July 2019

The Book of Bees by Piotr Socha

the book of bees

How do bees communicate? What does a beekeeper do? Did you know that Napoleon loved bees? Who survived being stung by 2,443 bees? This book answers all these questions and many more, tracking the history of bees from the time of the dinosaurs to their current plight. But more than the content, it all about how it is illustrated simply and with humor.

As described by Nikki Dakin earlier this month in our committee meeting, this book is always a success, with the younger ones as well as any experienced beekeeper. Anyone curious enough to open will get absorbed and turn every page.

Piotr Socha is a graphic designer and illustrator, and the son of a beekeeper. He is one of Poland’s most popular cartoonists, famous for his comic drawings in various prominent Polish magazines and newspapers.

dakelche-pchelite-page-1Enjoy! The SCBKA library has got a copy you can borrow if you wish to have a look before you buy but by all accounts, it seems worth investing … and covering!

In addition, he has also written ‘The book of trees’ and his books have been translated in several languages including French, Polish, Spanish and German – with a slightly different cover. A great idea for a present and a great study in preparation for Pete’s Christmas quiz!

June 2019

Collins Beekeeper’s Bible: Bees, honey, recipes and other home uses

Recommended Collins beekeeping bibleby Alan Smith, the library will soon have a copy of this most comprehensive beekeeping resource.

This ultimate guide covers all the practical essentials and will teach you everything about caring for bees and apiary management, with clear instructions and step-by-step illustrations. It also contains a wealth of information about the culinary, medicinal, cosmetic and domestic uses of honey, beeswax and pollen.

This beautiful almanac is also a fascinating read, overflowing with charming bee trivia, fascinating folklore, an engaging history of beekeeping and much more.


May 2019

A Guide to Bees and Honey (The revised edition) by Ted HooTed Hooper – A Guide to Bees and Honey - revised editionper

Recommended by Sydney Hollinshead. This is the ideal guide for anyone wanting to start beekeeping and a revered reference book for experienced beekeepers. It includes information on all you need to know, including how to avoid swarms, plan requeening, or provide the colony with winter stores. It features key information on Varroa. It is copiously illustrated throughout. Fully revised and updated, this new edition of “Guide to Bees and Honey” also presents expert advice for readers who plan to maintain a few hives for personal recreational use, as well as those who want to expand an existing colony into a commercial venture.

April 2019

Honeybee Democracy by Thomas D. Seeley

Nichola Summerfield, who is one of our best-read beekeepers recommends “Honeybee Democracy” as our April book of the month. It looks at the science behind bees’ ability to act as a single unit. It is especially pertinent to swarming. As one reviewer put it: “Fantastically complex science, explained with perfect simplicity”.

Honeybee-DemocracyDr. Thomas D. Seeley is a Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University, where he teaches courses in animal behavior and does research on the functional organization of honey bee colonies.

Honeybees make decisions collectively – and democratically. Every year, faced with the life-or-death problem of choosing and traveling to a new home, honeybees stake everything on a process that includes collective fact-finding, vigorous debate, and consensus building. In fact these incredible insects have much to teach us when it comes to collective wisdom and effective decision making. A remarkable and richly illustrated account of scientific discovery, Honeybee Democracy brings together, for the first time, decades of Seeley’s pioneering research to tell the amazing story of house hunting and democratic debate among the honeybees.

March 2019

In Praise of Bees – A cabinet of curiosities by Elizabeth Burchill

in praise of beesThis fascinating and comprehensive book explores the bee’s place in human society from prehistoric cave paintings and inscribed clay tablets through to our contemporary world – a cabinet whose drawers are filled with nuggets of bee science and practical beekeeping, myth, religion, politics, philosophy and folklore. There is a selection of verse and a rich variety of illustrations ranging from Old Masters and scientific etchings to modern photographs. An in-depth look at bees’ complex society and their present plight, the ongoing political and scientific to and fro regarding pesticides and other threats are also discussed, given the bee’s importance as plant pollinator in agriculture and the wild.

It’s obviously the result of a great deal of research. Gathered into topics with short sections and lots of illustrations, it’s an enchanting book to dip into.


February 2019

Swarming: Its control and prevention by L. E. Snelgrove

swarming preventionAlthough it was published in the 1930s, it was the result of careful observation and analysis and is still relevant to how we manage swarming today. Just as importantly, it is written in simple and straightforward language and is (relatively) short. There are 2 copies in the library.

More about this book on this page.

November 2018

A Sting in the Tail by Dave Goulson

a stingDave Goulson has always been obsessed with wildlife, from his childhood menagerie of exotic pets and dabbling in experimental taxidermy to his groundbreaking research into the mysterious ways of the bumblebee and his mission to protect our rarest bees.

Once commonly found in the marshes of Kent, the short-haired bumblebee is now extinct in the UK, but still exists in the wilds of New Zealand, descended from a few queen bees shipped over in the nineteenth century. A Sting in the Tale tells the story of Goulson’s passionate drive to reintroduce it to its native land and contains groundbreaking research into these curious creatures, history’s relationship with the bumblebee, the disastrous effects intensive farming has had on our bee populations and the potential dangers if we are to continue down this path.

July 2018

Peter Sutcliffe recommended

Nudge Nudge, Hint Hint by John Yates

yates_nudgenudgehinthint-2John Yates wrote a series of monthly articles for the Plymouth Branch of the Devon Beekeepers’ Association during the period August 1989 – October 1992. These were published  as a most successful book later in 1992. The volume is full of wise advice and beekeeping insight which while written for the micro-climate around Plymouth can be applied anywhere in Great Britain so long as notice is taken of regional climate which in some parts is 3 or 4 weeks in arrears.

June 2018

Andrew Esterbrook recommended

The Bad Beekeepers’ club by Bill Turnbull

B Turnbull - the bad beekeepers club

Hello. My name is Bill and I’m a bad beekeeper. A really bad beekeeper.’
So begins Bill Turnbull’s charming and often hilarious account of how he stumbled into the world of beekeeping (sometimes literally). Despite many setbacks – including being stung (twice) on his first day of training – beekeeping somehow taught Bill a great deal about himself, and the world around him.



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