REVIEW: The Idle Beekeeper: The Low-Effort, Natural Way to Raise Bees by Bill Anderson
From building a hive to harvesting honey, a top urban beekeeper shares how to care for bees the simple, mindful way.
Global bee populations have been rapidly declining for years, and it’s not just our honey supply that’s at stake: the contribution of bees to the pollination of crops is essential to human survival. But even in industrial apiaries, bees are in distress, hiving in synthetic and hostile environments. Enter idle beekeeping: the grassroots, low-intervention system that seeks to emulate the behavior and habitat of bees in the wild—and it only requires two active days of beekeeping per year, one in the spring and another in the fall.
In The Idle Beekeeper, Bill Anderson calls upon his years of applied curiosity as an urban beekeeper to celebrate these underappreciated insects and show how simple and rewarding beekeeping can be. In this entertaining, philosophical, and practical guide, Anderson shares why and how to build a hive system that is both cutting-edge and radically old. Maximum idleness is achieved through step-by-step directions to help the beekeeper gently harvest honey with minimum effort, make mead and beeswax candles, and closely observe and understand these fascinating and productive social creatures. For anyone interested in keeping bees, The Idle Beekeeper is the definitive guide to getting started, even in a city, and without effort.
Dear Mr. Anderson,
For the past few years I’ve thought about taking up beekeeping. Until recently, it had been little more than that – a thought, an idea, a “maybe someday.” Lately I’ve been giving it more intensive pondering and had begun looking more closely into what it would entail. After reading a few introductory books, I was having second thoughts. My idle plans to just stick a beehive or two in my backyard and let the bees have at it were starting to seem like naivete and pipe dreams. My goodness the stuff I’d need to buy, the issues with introducing bought bees, the work, the maintenance, the horrid varroa mites that I’d need to medicate the bees for. Hmm, did I really want to take this on?
As my spirits drooped and I got “sad eyes” about the whole thing, I saw your book offered through netgalley. Idle beekeeping. Now that’s what I had in mind. Could this be the book I’d been looking for? One that would teach me how to help the bees – because, yeah after all they’ve been doing this for millions of years – without it becoming a full time job? Was there a way to do this less intensively, more naturally and – I’m being honest – more easily?
Heck yeah! Your book is packed with bee lore, bee preferences and what bee scouts are looking for when they buzz into the local realty scene. The detailed diagrams of how to spiff up a hive with all the amenities discerning bees demand look very helpful. I also like that your instructions are written with the idea of disturbing the bees as little as possible – not necessarily for the beekeeper but for the bees.
It might still take me a year or two before I’m ready to take the plunge – the first step, I think, will be planting a bee friendly garden in my backyard. But after reading this book, my enthusiasm has been replenished. Thanks! B+