The following is a highly subjective reading list:

Ian Forbes and John Beedie Memorial Library (Borrowing restricted to ADBKA members)


Bees at the Bottom of the Garden by Alan Campion – this a good book for beginners although some of the advice – for example, matchsticks under crown-boards – is now considered to be bad practice.

Guide to Bees and Honey by Ted Hooper – this is one of the most highly regarded books on beekeeping.  It was originally written before varroa arrived in the UK, so buy the latest edition that includes a section on varroa.

The BBKA Guide to Beekeeping – Ivor Davis & Roger Cullum-Kenion

The Haynes Bee Manual – Claire and Adrian Waring

The BBKA Guide and The Haynes Bee Manual are modern guides popular with beginners and improvers.  Both are copiously photo-illustrated with clear step-by-step instructions.

A Practical Manual of Beekeeping – David Cramp

Practical Beekeeping – Clive de Bruyn

BBK Special Issue Series – Each publication is a compilation of photo-illustrated articles, mostly previously appearing in BBKA News over the past few years. The series include topics for all beekeepers – from beginners to experienced.

Alternative beekeeping (top-bar hives and Warré hives)

The Barefoot Beekeeper – Phil Chandler (also available online as an ebook) – emphasis on top-bar hives.

The Bee-friendly Beekeeper – A sustainable approach – David Heaf – emphasis on Warré hives.

Queen rearing

Queen Bee: Biology, Rearing and Breeding – David Woodward

Queen Breeding and Genetics – How to get better bees – Eigil Holm

Some Alternative Pathways for the Hesitant Queen Rearer – Ben Harden – this is a booklet describing Ben Harden’s method of queen rearing.  It is also described in the websites of David Cushman, and The Apiarist.

Understanding bees

The Buzz about BeesBiology of a Superorganism – Jürgen Tautz (with beautiful photographs by Helga R. Heilmann)

Honeybee Democracy and The Lives of Bees – Thomas D. Seeley – The author has spent his professional life researching honey bees in the wild. Honeybee Democracy is a fascinating book about swarming whilst The Lives of Bees is a broader review of wild honey bees.

Biology, anatomy, and health

The Honey Bee Around and About and The Honey Bee Inside Out by Celia F Davis – these two books are excellent guides to understanding the biology of bees, their illnesses, and their environment.  They are also essential reading-matter for anybody considering sitting the SBA exams to become a Scottish Expert Beekeeper (formerly known as ‘Beemaster’).

Understanding Bee Anatomy – a full colour guide by Ian Stell – An excellent book to help in understanding bee anatomy.

Healthy Bees are Happy Bees by Pam Gregory

The Biology of the Honey Bee – Mark L Winston

The Anatomy of the Honey Bee by RE Snodgrass – despite being written in 1910, this remains a useful book on the anatomy of the honey bee.  Its meticulously drawn illustrations are sometimes more helpful in understanding areas of complicated anatomy – for example, a bee’s mouthparts – than modern illustrations or photographs.

Honey bees and flowers

The Bee Friendly Garden – Ted Hooper & Mike Taylor

Plants for Bees – a Guide to the Plants that Benefit the Bees of the British Isles by WDJ Kirk & FN Howes

Plants and Honey Bees – David Aston and Sally Bucknall


Practical Microscopy for Beekeepers – Bob Maurer

Pollen Microscopy – Norman Chapman

Pollen Grains & Honeydew – A guide for identifying the plant sources in honey – Margaret Anne Adams

The Pollen Landscape – Joss Bartlett


The World History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting – Eva Crane

The Quest for the Perfect Hive: A History of Innovation in Bee Culture – Gene Kritsky


The Apiarist is a blog by a Fife beekeeper, David Evans, “about practical beekeeping – how to make stuff, reviews, queen rearing, cooking with honey, swarm control methods etc.” His advice on Varroa control is essential reading.

David Cushman built a large library of beekeeping information that is now maintained by Roger Patterson

Scientific Beekeeping is Randy Oliver’s website where he publishes the results from his many scientific trials, particularly relating to the management of Varroa.


Northern Bee Books is a bookseller dealing with beekeeping books