Skip to main content

The buzz about bees - book review

The more I learn about the bees, the more I'm fascinated by them and amazed at the things that researchers have figured out!  To be successful beekeepers we need to try to learn as much as we can about the bees in our care.  Some of the books on beekeeping use a kind of rote learning approach and tell you exactly what to do with your bees, but they can't possibly cover every situation, so you need to also learn to think for yourself using bee-knowledge to make the best management decisions for your bee hives.

Eight Acres: The buzz about bees - book review - you need this book to take your beekeeping to the next level!

The book The Buzz about Bees: Biology of a Superorganism (affiliate link) was recommended by the awesome Rusty on Honey Bee Suite so when I decided that I needed to know more about bee biology, I purchased a copy (using Amazon credit from you guys clicking on my affiliate links, thank you!!).  This is a good-sized book, packed with information and wonderful close-up photos of bees (they look all fuzzy and cuddly at that size!).

Eight Acres: The buzz about bees - book review - you need this book to take your beekeeping to the next level!

I learnt so much from this book, I'm just going to share a couple of insights, but you really need to read the whole thing if you have bees (or are planning to get bees).

  1. Bees can recognise colours and flowers when they are on a foraging flight, but when they fly home they concentrate on other things, so they generally only see patterns in black and white only.  Don't ask me how scientists have figured this out!  The implication for me is that I had been wondering if there was value in painting the front of our bee hives.  Some people do, while other don't bother.  The answer is that bees will really only recognise the patterns when they are returning from foraging, so if I paint them, I need to make sure to use distinct patterns on each hive, colours being option and for human enjoyment rather than being useful to the bees.  There is more in the book about how bees find flowers and tell the rest of the hive, and several pages on the famous waggle dance (some people have clearly spent a LOT of time watching bees!).
  2. One of the jobs of the nurse bees is to keep the brood nest warm.  They actually lie in empty cells in the brood and vibrate their abdomen to heat the surrounding cells containing developing larvae.  It really makes me think that we need to keep inspections to a minimum when bees are working so hard to keep their hive at the right temperature and we just open it up, move frames around and disturb the whole thing, no wonder they can get angry.
  3. The virgin queen bee on the her mating flight somehow finds Drone Convergence Zones and is accompanied by worker bees from her hive.  Scientists are still figuring out how she find the DCZ, which can be some distance from the hive and why the workers go with her.  
There is more about swarming behaviour, how beeswax is made and royal jelly (any time I see a "beauty product" containing royal jelly or pollen I think what a waste, why would you take food from the bees?!).  And so many beautiful photos.  I really think you could read this book several times, it has some much information, and it is quite easy to follow.

Eight Acres: The buzz about bees - book review - you need this book to take your beekeeping to the next level!

The one thing I would say is that my previous reading (actually audio-book-listening while driving) of Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene did help with some of the more complex genetics explained in one of the chapter.  I think it would have been more difficult to follow if I hadn't already got that background in genetics and the chapter in The Selfish Gene about bees and ants that live in colonies goes into the detail you need.

If you're interested in bees or keep bees yourself and you've read all the basic beekeeping books, this one really takes your knowledge to the next level and will help you with the more complex management decisions that can't be foreseen.

Do you have a favourite beekeeping book?  Anyone else find bees endlessly fascinating??

See this post for more beekeeping books and resources

(Thank you for using my Amazon Affiliate links to purchase from Amazon!)



  1. I could watch bees for hours, Liz! They are just amazing little creatures and there's so much to learn about them. We don't have honeybee hives, we have a native bee hive, and so I've been reading about them and have learned so much.


Post a Comment

Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at

Popular posts from this blog

What to do with eight acres

Behind the scenes of my blog I can see the search terms that led people to find my blog.  It can be quite interesting to look through them occasionally and see what people are looking for.  Most of them involve chicken tractors, but another question that comes up regularly is “what can you do with eight acres?” or “how much land is eight acres?”.  Today I will try to answer this question.

Of course it is a very broad question, there are lots and lots of things you can do with eight acres, but I’m going to assume that you want to live there, feed your family and maybe make a little extra money.  I make that assumption because that’s what I know about, if you want to do something else with your eight acres, you will need to look somewhere else.

If you haven’t chosen your land yet, here a few things to look for.  Focus on the things you can’t change and try to choose the best property you can find in your price range.  Look for clean water in dams, bores or wells, either on the property …

Growing and eating chokos (chayotes)

** Sign up for my weekly email updates here, you will find out more about my garden, soap and our farmlife, straight to your inbox, never miss a post!  New soap website and shop opening soon....

Cooking chokos (not be confused with another post about cooking chooks) has been the subject of a few questions on my blog lately, so here's some more information for you.
Chokos - also known as Chayote, christophene or christophine, cho-cho, mirliton or merleton, chuchu, Cidra, Guatila, Centinarja, Pipinola, pear squash, vegetable pear, chouchoute, güisquil, Labu Siam, Ishkus or Chowchow, Pataste, Tayota, Sayote - is a vine belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, along with pumpkins, squash and melons, with the botanical name Sechium edule.

The choko contains a large seed, like a mango, but if you pick them small enough it is soft enough to eat.  If you leave the choko for long enough it will sprout from one end and start to grow a vine.  To grow the choko, just plant the sprouted choko a…

Making tallow soap

Sign up for my weekly email updates here, you will find out more about soap and our farmlife, straight to your inbox, never miss a post!  New soap website and shop opening soon....
For some reason I've always thought that making soap seemed too hard.  For a start the number of ingredients required was confusing and all the safety warnings about using the alkali put me off.  The worst part for me was that most of the ingredients had to be purchased, and some even imported (palm oil and coconut oil), which never seemed very self-sufficient.  I can definitely see the benefits of using homemade soap instead of mass produced soap (that often contains synthetic fragrance, colour, preservatives, and has had the glycerine removed), but it seemed to me that if I was going to buy all the ingredients I may as well just buy the soap and save myself all the hassle.  For the past several years I have bought homemade soap from various market stalls and websites, and that has suited me just fine.