How to maximise your honey crop
A new beekeeping book seems to get published every week, so I have joined the party alongside my co-author, Paul Horton. Our new book, Healthy Bees, Heavy Hives — How to maximise your honey crop is likely to be out in February 2024. We miss the crazy Christmas rush, but at least it will be available for purchase from the Northern Bee Books stand at The Beekeeping Show. Actually, let’s be honest, there is no “crazy Christmas rush” for beekeeping books. Or any other time.
Paul Horton is a well-respected bee farmer based in Lincolnshire. His company is Apidae Honey, and he is the vice chair of the Bee Farmers’ Association (BFA), as well as a regional director. When I was forming the idea for the book, I asked several bee farmers about honey crops, and who were the people who made more than most. Paul’s name often came up, so I talked to him about collaborating on a book. The great thing about Paul is that he had numerous strings to his bow:
- Very high annual honey crop (well over 130 lbs per colony) every year
- Former bee inspector, meaning excellent real-life experience of bee health matters
- Migratory beekeeper
- He has loads of gorgeous photographs
- Part of the Knowledge Exchange Groups in the BFA (whereby bee farmers collect and share data for the mutual benefit of all)
- He knows loads of clever beekeepers, who were happy to help out with the book
Evidently, this isn’t just a typical, generic book about keeping bees. The bee health chapter is comprehensive and easy to read. The subject of moving bees is covered in great detail, showing exactly how Paul finds places for his bees, and how he safely transports them in his van. If you are thinking of taking bees to pollinate fruit, or to oilseed rape, field beans, mustard, borage, or heather, we’ve got you covered. The chapter on plants for bees is comprehensive and very helpful.
Luckily, my daughter Isla was available to provide some beautiful illustrations, which take the publication to a new level. Disease diagnosis, swarm control and raising queens are described in words and pictures. Then, of course, there are the photographs. The colour shots are incredible; it’s almost a shame to add text when the images are that good.
Paul also shares how he extracts, stores and markets his honey. He provides some eye-opening financial information on his operation; few others ever do so, and this can help those interested in going commercial with their planning.
We were happy to include a piece written by David Wainwright about his style of bee farming, and Thierry Fedon writes about intensive and extensive farming methods. The foreword was kindly written (eventually) by Murray McGregor of Denrosa Apiaries, who appeared as a chapter in my book Interviews with Beekeepers. Murray was kind enough to say:
The chapters are as follows:
- General Principles
- Getting Bees Through Winter
- Early Spring
- Bee Hives and Equipment
- Diseases & Pests
- Plants For Bees
- Swarm Prevention & Control
- Migratory Beekeeping
- Staying Put
- Harvesting, Processing, and Selling Honey
As you can tell, this blog post is really just a giant advertisement. Sorry about that. Occasionally, these things just have to be done! Paul and I will be doing a bit of promotion for the book after Christmas. Who knows, we may even appear on the odd YouTube channel and podcast. Getting anyone to part with the best part of £30 on a beekeeping book, even one as spectacular as ours, is a tall order. We were inspired by Manley’s Honey Farming and Oliver Field’s Honey By The Ton, so hopefully the writing style and practicality of Healthy Bees, Heavy Hives will be in keeping with those masterpieces.