The Beekeeper's Bible is one of the most lovely books I have seen in a while, and certainly the most attractive amongst the other books I have on beekeeping. Unlike those I have read on the subject that focus primarily on the how-to aspects of keeping bees, this one captures all that is wondrous and romantic about the practice including numerous and varied illustrations and photos, history, mythology and ties to the domestic arts. In addition to providing a thorough primer for the novice apiarist, of course. The book is heavy and satisfying in your hands, the paper thick and glossy, and I think that anyone even vaguely interested in the subject will find many distractions here.
The school where I have worked for the last few years now keeps hundreds of thousands of our buzzing little friends in hives on our green roof and in our school garden, and is the starting point for my bee fascination. The two photos above were taken outside in the bee yard. Not only have they provided some of the most delicious honey I have tasted, they have been the focus of science instruction that captivated our little friends. Children easily recognize that the life of bees is akin to magic -the ways they communicate, produce honey, swarm, mate and perform their roles within the hive. Little fingers greedily shoved into combs to taste the honey and wonderful questions like "Why is the queen so bossy?" and "Do the bees have watches?" have confirmed all my beliefs about the beauty and efficacy of experiential learning.
But the treat of this book for me are the ties to the creative life, the reminders that beekeeping has captured the imagination for centuries and has found a place for itself within our mythologies and organized faiths and literary output. Bees protected Zeus, inspired Sylvia Plath's bee poems and Roald Dahl's "Royal Jelly," have been symbols of Christianity, royalty, thrift and industry. They have given us one of my favorite words, mellifluous from Latin mel, honey and fluere, to flow. They have come to be associated with the honeyed words of love and the sting of its loss from the stories of the gods of love Eros and Kama through Keats and Tennyson and beyond.
A find of a book especially as a companion for a nascent love affair with bees.