The Beekeeper’s Handbook 3rd Edition


by Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile

Published by Comstock Publishing Associates a division of Cornell University Press 1998

Review by Jerreth McLaughlin

This book is a classic for anyone interested in Beekeeping. My husband, George uses it in all of the classes he teaches on Beekeeping. It gives a good overall history of bees. At one point or another we have had almost all of the types of bees mentioned and their description of them fits our experience with them. (My husband has been keeping bees for over 40 years.)

The book provides a good overview of the equipment that you need as well as the various maneuvers that need to be done with bees. If all you do is read the book, you will not be successful in Beekeeping. That said, if you take a class and work with a mentor, the book will be a great help to reinforce what you already went through with a mentor. The book is an interesting read whether you’ve kept bees for many years, or whether you are new to the hobby.

This book is an interesting read whether you’ve kept bees for many years, or whether you are new to the hobby.

One of the things I like about the book is that it mentions things like you need to be able to lift 50 lbs. and some things weigh 100 lbs. It also brings out that you need to work bees on warm sunny days, so you are going to be hot, sweaty and have smoke in your eyes. Oh, and you could get stung numerous times. Sammataro and Avitabile do a good job of letting you know that bees need to be cared for. It is not just a matter of setting them in a field and collecting honey. You need to be prepared to spend money on feeding them, dealing with varroa and tracheal mites, buying new queens, or new bees altogether if yours swarm or die. This is not a cheap investment. If you keep bees you will be spending a significant amount of time and money on them. You need to love and study the insect, not just collect honey. 

This book is a good, full-orbed treatment of what is involved in successfully keeping bees.

Summataro and Avitabile explain how to raise queens, insert queens, move hives and a host of other things. Their instructions are accurate. They also do a great job of explaining how to tell if your bees are getting ready to swarm or if there is robbing going on. If you are interested in bees, this book is a must have in your library.



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