You can’t be out in the bee yard every day, well, not without making your bees a bit cranky.  So what does a good beekeeper do on a day off from the apiary?  Why read of course!  This month we read Plan Bee by Susan M. Brackney.  The subtitle is “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Hardest-Working Creatures on the Planet” and while I suspect there’s a lot more a beginning beekeeper might want to know about bees this is a great book to supplement your education.

Not only is it well written but it includes a lot of interesting facts you might not get anywhere else.

Here’s some bits and pieces we found really interesting:

  1. UM biology Research Professor Jerry Bromenshenk has used honey bees to detect land mines.  Unlike dogs or humans bees don’t go boom when they find the mine.  Sadly it will take 450 years to clean up all the land mines on the planet.
  2. Bees pollinate 90 different food crops… not just your apples but your coffee and the pecans in your pralines and cream ice cream!
  3. Scientists listening for sounds and changes in the buzzing in a hive can tell the difference between different chemical exposures, and different levels of intensity of varroa infestation.
  4. Bees have been used in war and not just as part of the war effort.  Back when warfare was a bit more hands on, bees were sometimes fired at enemies to get them to flee.  Take that!
  5. When it comes to gardening for bees choose heirloom varieties over double and triple flower versions as these newer varieties have less pollen and nectar for bees.  Also stick to purple, blue, and yellow flowers as bees don’t see red (or more specifically it looks quite a bit like the green part of plants to them).

While short this book is loaded with interesting facts and definitely worth the read.  If you’re at all interested in bee anatomy it’s definitely a great book for you.

What are your favorite beekeeping books?