Comstock Publishing Associates

The Art of Beekeeping: For Both Hobbyists and Professionals

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There is a certain appeal to honey bee biology and the products of the hive that attract many people to beekeeping. Some are attracted to the alluring idea of harvesting natural raw honey. Others might be attracted to the complex interactions among the members of the honey bee colony. Still, others are attracted to both. Whatever the interest may be, this 5th edition of The Beekeeper’s Handbook will serve as a trusted companion throughout your beekeeping journey.

As in many endeavors, there is more than one way to care for honey bees; management techniques will vary among hobbyists, sideliners, and commercial beekeepers. This handbook is sure to prove invaluable for those who are about to begin their beekeeping journey; they will learn how to establish and care for colonies in their apiary. For those who wish to advance to more complex activities dealing with bee husbandry such as rearing queens, maintaining two-queen colonies, and preparing nucleus colonies, the handbook will guide you through these activities as well.

This handbook is sure to prove invaluable for those who are about to begin their beekeeping journey; they will learn how to establish and care for colonies in their apiary.

A bee colony usually consists of a single female queen bee, up to 40,000 female worker bees, and several thousand male drones, depending on the season. Each type has evolved specific anatomical structures to fulfill the many duties required to sustain the complex social society we call the colony. Among all their remarkable structures such as the honey stomach and the antennae cleaner, a particularly fascinating one is the pollen-harvesting mechanism of the worker bees’ third pair of legs designed to collect copious amounts of pollen in a most efficient way. In the 5th edition, these anatomical structures are highlighted with clear illustrations.

With regard to bee management, vital new information has emerged about one of the most important problems facing beekeepers today: the current threat to honey bees presented by the parasitic varroa mite that is now known to play a major role in colony demise. Although there is no definitive solution to the nearly worldwide varroa problem, this new edition offers more effective ways on how to identify and control this pest in order to minimize colony mortality. This edition has also been updated to deal with the arrival of other serious worldwide threats to honey bees, including the small hive beetle and bee viruses.

With regard to bee management, vital new information has emerged about one of the most important problems facing beekeepers today…

It also provides the reader with eight updated appendices filled with additional in-depth information on honey bee-related topics such as the anatomy of honey bees, the function of pheromones, the physiology of bee sting reactions, and pointers for urban beekeeping.

It was in 1970 that the authors began their collaboration on the 1st edition of The Beekeeper’s Handbook. Their long list of bee-related academic affiliations coupled with a wide range of practical experience dealing with honey bees–at one time caring for more than 200 colonies in Connecticut which they employed to pollinate orchards and extract and market other bee products–brings a wealth of theoretical and hands-on knowledge to this field. More than half a century later, in this 5th edition, they are still eager to share their findings and enthusiasm in this essential single-volume guide to successful beekeeping.

*Featured photo: Beehive being tended to. Credit: Bianca Ackermann.


Diana Sammataro is a retired bee scientist who has been writing and teaching beekeeping for over twenty years. She is coauthor of The New Starting Right with Bees.

Alphonse Avitabile is a beekeeper, a bee researcher, and Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut, Waterbury. His published articles can be found in scientific journals and in the American Bee Journal and Bee Culture.

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