I won the book Interviews with Beekeepers by Steve Donohoe in a draw and so, although it is most definitely NOT in tune with natural beekeeping, I decided to read it and thought I would share a review as it does include some tidbits any beek may find of interest.
The author himself imports Carniolan and Buckfast queens, raises more queens from these and sells them around the UK, diametrically opposite to my interest in promoting a focus on local bees. The interviewees are, or were, all large scale breeders or bee farmers from the UK, France, USA and New Zealand – so, well outside my usual reading orbit, which is exactly why I did read it.
It is an excellently written book packed with fascinating information and the interview format works well, but I found it a really uncomfortable read: the tone can be gathered from the author’s comment on p.50, “there’s no room for sentimentality in farming” – something though that perhaps some other bee farmers, like Tim Malfroy for example, might take issue with.
Although this article is partly a book review, this blog is primarily for hobbyist natural beekeepers, so the first part of this post covers useful and interesting things I learned from the book for our core audience. In the second part I will briefly deal with some of the more upsetting aspects, commercial necessities and ethics but do not intend to cover that in any detail given the nature of this blog.
To cut to the chase: if you are a natural beekeeper I do not recommend that you buy this book. If you are, or wish to be, a commercial bee farmer (unlikely on this blogsite), it is a five-star volume packed with distilled information from experts who share an immense amount of their experience. Perhaps the real value of the book, though, is that there is no other book like it as it gives a snapshot of where commercial beekeeping really is right now, and I expect will be a core reference for researchers of the commercial field long into the future.