A Lifetime of Beekeeping Mistakes covers all the basics of managing successful hives from buying in bee stocks and equipment to record keeping, establishing and growing colonies. It considers the merits of different types of hive and provides clear advice on queens, drones, honey extraction, diseases and pests.
The book is written from the voice of experience rather than academic research, and is entirely practical, approachable, and based very much on the right and wrong ways of doing things the author has experienced throughout his beekeeping career.
Geoff Critchley is a Master Beekeeper and has been an examiner for the British Beekeeping Association. For many years he taught beginners for Conwy Beekeeping Association and South Clwyd Beekeeping Association, and has run training courses on queen rearing. Geoff at one time had as many as 60 hives and worked for 3 years as a seasonal bee inspector for the National Bee Unit. At the time of writing he has just two hives but continues to mentor new beekeepers.
1 Starting out
2 Hives and tools
4 Protective clothing
5 Moving bees
6 Records, planning and inspections
7 Queens and swarming
8 Pests and diseases
9 The honey harvest
12 Management through the season
13 Making increase and uniting
Margaret Murdin NDB, BBKA Past President –
Geoff Critchley has been keeping bees for a very long time, some of it as a semi commercial beekeeper and some as a Bee Inspector. Together these roles have given him ample opportunity to watch bees and, more importantly for this book, interact with beekeepers. It has also given him time to make and observe lots of beekeeping mistakes.
This book is not a textbook of beekeeping, yet it is very informative. It gives much of the information available in a textbook but in an amusing, entertaining, and absorbing way. Geoff writes well and the narrative flows effortlessly making for ease of reading.
It’s a ‘feet up and read book’ not a study book. You will be studying without realising.
The book gives an account of many amusing and some alarming situations.
There are entertaining anonymous situations where Geoff has had to remain as a professional Bee Inspector and cannot show surprise or annoyance at some of the gaffs or sheer stupidity that he has encountered.
But it is not all about beekeepers. Some members of the public can be interesting.
I particularly like the episode when Geoff was selling his honey at a local farmers’ market. To add interest, he brought along an observation hive. A customer bought honey and was intrigued by the bees, noting the queen which was marked red. The following year both Geoff and his customer returned. This time, however the queen was, (yes, you’ve guessed it,) marked green. The customer observed this and questioned Geoff who gave a very rudimentary explanation of the international colours for queen marking. The lady was amazed and asked how the bees knew which colour to mark their queen. I only wish my queens were self-marking. Geoff rears queens so perhaps he has bred this trait into them.
The book is laid out in 13 chapters, each dealing with a different aspect of beekeeping. In each chapter there are anecdotes, accounts of mistakes made by Geoff and gentle advice which clearly comes from many years of successful beekeeping and visiting hives as a bee inspector.
In all cases the advice is excellent, but that’s not all. There are the usual colour photographs but these are enhanced by wonderful line drawings. I love the one of the sick bee in bed with a virus.
But one of the most interesting and useful parts is the appendix. There are 9 separate appendices and each gives detailed instructions about a manipulation or another necessary practical skill. I’d like to copy some of them for BBKA News.
This book will be useful in any collection of beekeeping books. It will inform the beginners and inexperienced beekeepers. But it will also entertain and inform the old hands and those who claim to have never made a mistake.