A New Take on a Beekeeping Book

In my previous post I explained that I found the idea of continuing to offer Introductory courses, despite it being ostensibly sustainable beekeeping, was nonetheless unsustainable – whatever my best intentions. Writing some sort of manual to confer this knowledge and teaching seems an obvious development, but I’ve been wondering how to pitch it. What message do I want to convey? Who am I wanting to have read my ramblings? Condensing the years of thoughts and ideas and methodologies is a responsibility, not only to ensure I am being honest to myself, but also ensuring I am portraying information in an effective way. There are some great bees-and-biodiversity and non-honey-bee works out there (looking at you, Dave Goulson) and I don’t want to add to the plethora of beekeeping management books, nor indeed any ‘natural’ beekeeping books either. There are also lots of wildlife gardening books and articles, so no need to reinvent the wheel in that regard, even though I am a champion – obviously – of using our outdoor spaces as refuges for nature, and have run courses to encourage such helpful practises.

During Lockdown I, my friend Paul added me to a WhatsApp group that he’d created having been in touch with a few other progressively-minded beekeepers, all of us sharing a particular interest in Paul’s preferred way of interacting with honey bees: wild-living colonies.

These discussions have been so fascinating, along with footage from one of my patrons, 18 Bees, showing his log hives and swarm habitats across the pond in Washington State. The science and data my 4 friends in the WhatsApp group have unearthed, demonstrating the abilities, adaptability, and intricacies of bee colony life is truly awe-inspiring. This, coupled with the interactions and connections with the wider environment, makes regular beekeeping seem so out-of-touch and frankly pretty dull.

What I want to achieve with the book is getting beekeeping back to being immersed in nature, and all the benefits that can bring to ourselves, our bees, our green spaces and our food. I will do my best to explain how the bees organise themselves and respond to their environment, and how an understanding of that can inform us about how best to organise our environment for the benefit of honey bees and many, many other species. I will use my illustrations – both paintings and line drawings – and incorporate the seasonal changes as well as weather, plants, mammals and birds just to cement the fact that all these things are linked. I’m not sure whether to include photography…might have to think on that one.

I have a large chunk of bee colony text I wrote ages ago, and I will probably use that as the main body to start with. I also have the handouts from the Gardening for Bees & Wildlife course which are pretty comprehensive. I need to think of a title, and am wondering how basic to go with that. Regenerative beekeeping is still very conceptual, and probably wouldn’t appeal to the audience I am aiming at (namely informed but want more detail as well as some practical advice), but then Bees & Wildlife is so overdone. I will be planning the basic outline/flatplan of the book this weekend so I am hoping the title will make itself known…

7 Replies to “A New Take on a Beekeeping Book”

  1. Fantastic news and I am totally at your disposal if you should need anything to accompany your information, thoughts and musings 🤗👏🏻

  2. Awesome Jen, you go girl! I love the way you think on this! Using your varied gifts and skills will be so creatively motivating for you I’m sure. I’d so much like to learn more about your WhatsAp group’s research. But, this blog is the only social media I do b/c I just don’t like it. I lose too much time. If you could think of a way to include me in sharing material I’d happily become a ‘patron’ — but we’d have to find another way for payment besides Patreon. I’m full of ideas and am happy to share them and not at all offended when rejected!! (Very used to that! I) I also used to ghostwrite and edit, so if you need any help on that end I’d be tickled to participate. :).

    1. That’s really kind of you, thank you so much! I’ll be sharing what I do here on the blog so feel free to chip in when you’d like 🙂

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