Interviews With Beekeepers

Interviews with Beekeepers

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How to Buy

If you want a signed copy: signed book (delivery may take a few weeks if you are thousands of miles away from the UK).

Otherwise, there are lots of outlets throughout the world – please just search online or visit your favourite bookstore, being careful to follow COVID-19 rules where you are.

Book Review

Manchester hobby beekeeper Steve Donohoe has travelled to the USA, New Zealand, France and throughout the UK to interview eight professional beekeepers and produce this fascinating book.

After a brief introduction to each of the beekeepers and their operation, the text takes the form of transcribed interviews. Therefore, most of the time we are reading direct speech, making it feel as if we are meeting the beekeepers and listening to a conversation with them. This isn’t the most efficient way of gaining practical information, but it gives the book an intimate feel and helps the reader understand something of the personality, knowledge and philosophy of each beekeeper.

Despite focusing on beekeeping as a business, many of the management techniques and beekeeping concerns discussed (including queen rearing, varroa treatment and swarming) are of equal concern to the hobbyist, so there is much useful information to be gleaned. The main difference being that most of Steve’s interviewees operate on quite a large scale – Californian beekeeper Ray Olivarez, for example, runs 16,000 colonies.

I particularly enjoyed the interviews with Randy Oliver whose robustly scientific beekeeping experiments on his Californian bee farm are providing some much-needed answers to various problems. Murray McGregor, who runs the UK’s biggest beekeeping operation, and Peter Little of Exmoor Bees, who has a very practical, self-sufficient approach that many hobby beekeepers will relate to, are also among my favourite interviews.

Feeling slightly out of place, but very welcome nonetheless, is an interview with David Kemp, former apprentice under Brother Adam at Buckfast Abbey and later a county bee inspector. David’s recollections of his days at Buckfast and his personal photographs from the time are fascinating.

The book is not aimed at the casual reader or beginner beekeeper as some quite advanced practical techniques are discussed in detail without a description of all of the basic concepts, although there are good diagrams to illustrate some of the beekeeping techniques described. However, advanced beekeepers and anyone earning even part of their living from bees will find this nicely produced publication invaluable.

Richard Rickitt (BeeCraft Magazine)

3 replies »

  1. Bought the book a couple of months ago and have finally found the time to read it. A refreshing approach to books about bee keeping. There is a lot of useful information from the professionals, some of which is applicable to hobbyists. Others ideas that nay not be applicable certainly got me thinking. A worthwhile stocking filler that you can keep returning to for ideas and inspiration.

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