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Resources for beginners and those wishing to help pollinators

I Googled the word “beekeeping” today, which came back with 39 million results — far too many for most of us to read!

The other issue is that with the advent of the Internet, those with strong opinions are free to upload their thoughts, without anyone first checking them for supportive evidence.  And in beekeeping, there has never been a lack of strong opinions.

Planting Pollinator Gardens

Thanks to Girl Scout Jenna Miller for suggesting that I add this information.

If one wants to help “save the bees,” you don’t need to become a beekeeper.  Perhaps the best way is to plant and maintain pollinator-friendly pasture, which will benefit not only honey bees, but also other pollinators and wildlife in general.  What you should plant depends upon your ecoregion, and the amount of long-term care that you wish to spend on the garden.

In general,  pollinator-friendly trees and shrubs provide the most resources and require little maintenance.  Otherwise, planting native flowering plants (including groundcovers) will benefit native pollinators.  There are also non-native ornamental and landscape flowers that may be attractive.

It helps pollinators to plant forage plants in blocks, so that they don’t have to fly far between blossoms.  And of course, avoid applying most insecticides.

I can’t list planting guides for all ecoregions, but recommend that you check with Xerces Society and regional universities.

Xerces regional pollinator plant lists: https://xerces.org/pollinator-conservation/pollinator-friendly-plant-lists

Pollinator Partnership has a great guide for California at https://www.pollinator.org/PDFs/Guides/SierranStepperx7FINAL.pdf

Also for California: https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8498.pdf

Northeast: https://pollinator.cals.cornell.edu/resources/planting-pollinator-habitat/

Midwest: https://www.beeandbutterflyfund.org/

Beginner’s texts:

Here’s a list of resources for the beginner that I feel are both readable and informative.

Of course, I’d start with one of my own: https://scientificbeekeeping.com/first-year-care-for-your-nuc/

First Lessons in Beekeeping, Dadant

The Beekeeper’s Handbook by Diana Sammataro & Alfonse Avitabile

Storey’s Guide to Keeping Honey Bees, 2nd Edition. Malcolm T. Sanford, Richard E. Bonney

Beekeeping Basics   This used to be a freebie from Penn State.Homegrown Honey Bees by Alethea Morrison

Beekeeping for Dummies.  Howland Blackiston

Honey Bee Hobbyist by Norm Gary—good overall understanding, rather than how-to-do-it.

Beautiful prose: A Book of Bees, Hubble.  This is the book to share with your family to help them understand your passion.

Let me know if there are others that I should add to the above list!


The Biology of the Honey Bee, Winston.  As the title says  — relatively short and to the point reference book, nicely written by an expert.

The next two are the go-to textbooks:

The Hive and the Honey Bee, Dadant

ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture, Root