Recommended Reading

Beekeeping Guides & Handbooks:

The Marin Beekeeping Club has its own library of books, with many of these titles… and more… available for check-out.  Contact the club librarian for more information.

The Beekeepers HandbookDiana Sammataro; Alphonse Avitabile; Dewey M. Caron (Foreword)

This book leads our list because it is a must have for any beekeeper.  Buy it NOW!  That said, if you are a beginner, you might want to orient yourself with books that are more elementary.  However, if beekeeping is for you, so is this book.  Not only is it a comprehensive “how to” guide, but it is chock full of really interesting bee-related information.  The Appendices are out of this world!

Beekeeping for DummiesHowland Blackiston, Kim Flottum

This is the book I started with.  It is a great “quick start” guide for the beginner.  It’s not nearly as comprehensive as the Handbook, but is great for gaining an understanding of the basics.  I got this book from the library rather than purchasing it.

The Backyard Beekeeper: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and GardenKim Flottum

This isn’t a book that I have ever, personally read or even looked at.  However, it has come up again and again as a good resource for beginning beekeepers.  This resource contains general information on bees; a how-to guide for beekeeping including how to care for your new bee colonies for their safety and yours.

Beekeeping in Coastal California — Jeremy Rose

This book has value, obviously, because it was written for California beekeepers.  The author’s month-by-month tutorial is helpful, as are all of the detailed, color photographs.  Jeremy Rose is a new enough beekeeper that he is able to explain concepts and approaches in simple terms, so that even beginners can understand what he is saying.

Honeybee Democracy — Thomas D. Seeley

Not only is this book wildly interesting and informative, it is beautifully written.  In fact, I debated whether to list this book as a guide or as literature.  If you aren’t completely in love with bees before you read it, you will be by the time you are done!

Attracting Native Pollinators – The Xerces Society Guide
This book, which has a foreword by the brilliant Marla Spivak, winner of the 2010 MacArthur fellowship, is a beautiful guide for gardening with a leaning toward attracting pollinators (as the title suggests).  But is isn’t just a guide — it is an informative “how to” book for making the world a better place.  I own it — you should too!


Honeybee: Lessons from the Accidental Beekeeper – C. Marina Marchese

This simple book chronicles a woman who abandoned a corporate life to become a commercial beekeeper.  It has some interesting facts about bees and beekeeping, as well as offering the usual charm of a personal, intimate story.  While not complex or particularly in-depth, it is a fun, easy read.

The Beekeepers Lament – Hannah Nordhaus

This is a great story about an intrepid commercial beekeeper — John Miller — and his trials and tribulations.  The author does a fantastic job capturing this unique character and the compelling relationship between men and bees.

A Book of Bees – Sue Hubbell

This book is a follow-up to “A Country Year.”  Both books are great for women beekeepers, as they tell the story of a woman and her journey through middle age and career change from librarian to commercial beekeeper. Part memoir, part guidebook, part nature journal, her honest portrayal is poignant.  As described by publisher’s weekly — “Beekeeping has to be the apex of animal husbandry; it is a wondrous subject, and Hubbell does it justice.”


The Secret Life of Bees — Sue Monk Kidd

Wow what a great book.  One review describes this book as “honey-sweet,” and I agree.  It’s a great story, and the integration of bees and beekeeping makes it an especially fun read for any beekeeper.


McKay’s Bees – Thomas McMahon

This book was written by a Harvard University professor of applied mechanics and biology. It is surprisingly witty and just a crazy little book.  It takes place in 1855 and is chock full of cameo appearances from Langstroth himself to Abraham Lincoln.  This book won’t win any awards for fine literature nor for its accuracy as far as the bees go… but it is fun nonetheless.