If you are a reader of Bee Culture magazine, you have likely seen my new question & answer column, titled Ask “Dr.” Phil, in the January issue.
This new monthly column is the result of a series of conversations with Bee Culture editor, Kim Flottum. He asked me about writing some articles for the magazine and, during discussions about possible formats, I told him I would be most interested in writing a Q&A column because answering questions is something that I both enjoy and spend a lot of my time doing. That was certainly the case when I was the Kentucky State Apiarist; a large part of my job was responding to questions, mostly from beekeepers, but sometimes from the general public as well. They came to me through the telephone, at meetings, and in emails. Continue reading
If you’re looking for a last minute gift idea for a beekeeper in your life, or for a way to spend some of your Christmas cash, consider The Biology of the Honey Bee by Mark L. Winston. It is a good basic text for any beekeeper, regardless of experience level. Not a beekeeping manual, it is, however, an in depth study of honey bee biology, an understanding of which is crucial to becoming a successful beekeeper. It would also be a great choice for anyone with a general interest in insects or nature, who wishes to learn more about honey bees. This volume should be on every beekeeper’s reference shelf.
When I teaching beginner beekeeping courses, I don’t discuss beekeeping in the initial class; I always open with an overview of honey bee biology. At the end of presentations, I frequently cite Dr. Winston’s book and suggest that beekeepers acquire a copy. Winter, with its long nights, cold days, and no work to do in the beeyard, is a good time to learn or to brush up on the basics. So, if The Biology of the Honey Bee is not on your book shelf, think about adding it soon.
If you’re looking for some winter reading on beekeeping, I recommend Richard Taylor’s The Joys of Beekeeping. This is much more than a “how to” manual, though it does contain pertinent information for the new or novice beekeeper. Compiled from a series of essays, many of which appeared in Mr. Taylor’s Bee Talk column in what was then known as Gleanings in Bee Culture (since shortened to Bee Culture), this is not reading for new beekeepers only. The first essay in this little book – only 166 pages – is titled The Taste of Joy, and the sense of joy permeates to the end. Not a recent book, it was originally published in 1974. I have a 1984 edition, which is the one you will probably find if you seek it out. I discovered this volume many years ago and still pick it back up occasionally, as I did just this morning, to enjoy it again. The section on bee yards, which describes the smells of wax and honey and the sounds of buzzing bees, makes an impression on me every time I read it. This is what I enjoy most about beekeeping: my time in the apiary, those smells and sounds, and the daily discoveries in the hives. Richard Taylor shares with us his pleasure in these simple things. Enjoy!
About Richard Taylor
Richard Taylor may be known to readers as a beekeeper and writer, but his original career, never abandoned, was professor of philosophy. He earned his PhD in that field from Brown University, and during his long academic career he taught at Brown, Columbia and Rochester Universities. He passed away in 2003, but his words live on.