October 2, 2014

Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping by Dewey M. Caron

Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping by Dewey M. Caron

Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping by Dewey M. Caron

About the Author | For any of us Beekeepers who have been practicing the art and science of beekeeping for a while, Dewey Caron’s name is a very familiar one. Dewey has spoken at meetings for most of the beekeeping clubs to which I belong, and has always been able to provide a new tidbit of knowledge every time I hear him speak. That’s the beauty of doing something for as many years as Dewey has played with Bees. Dewey received his PhD in Entomology from Cornell, and now teaches several courses at the University of Delaware. Dewey served as past Chairman for EAS, and continues to stay very busy with beekeeping associations, in the Delaware region and beyond.

About the Book | Dewey wrote this book to serve as the basic textbook for beekeeping courses offered at the college level. As such, it is written in the typical college text format, where topics are discussed, review questions are posed at the end of each chapter, and a listing of additional reading is provided for each topic. He has drawn on the extensive bee biology research of others in the entomology field, such as Mark Winston, and has boiled down the intricate work involved at the PhD level to a point where it is easily understood by those who do not work at that level on a regular basis. It was Dewey’s intent to write the book in this fashion so that beekeepers at any level could gain from the body of knowledge contained in this book.

One of the best features of this book is the diagrams. I have not read many beekeeping books where both the quality and quantity of sketches, charts, and diagrams are equal to what is contained in these pages. From the biological classification of the Honey Bee in the classification of the animal kingdom according to Carl Linnaeus, to the life cycles of tracheal mites and the varroa, and then to how pollination affects the sizes and shapes of fruits; there is a diagram, photo, or a sketch in the book for all of these and many more. Dewey spends an entire chapter in this book discussing bee communication, and dedicates lots of pages to discussion around bee dances. His description of bee dancing is the best of any books I have read.

The book is broken down into two fundamental parts; the first part discusses basic honey bee biology, and the second part focuses on the practice of beekeeping. While biology in general isn’t always the easiest subject to comprehend, both sections are very easy to understand, and provide the reader with descriptions detailed enough that he or she could use the information to teach another person the basic concepts covered. Subjects in this first section include animal classification, insect/animal sociality, bee anatomy, nest design, communications and pheromones. Dewey also spends time describing the basics of wasps, bumble bees, and ant and termite social living.

The second part of the book focuses on the art of beekeeping and takes the reader through a general year in the apiary, as is done in several other beekeeping books. In this book, however, the reader also has the review questions to conduct a self examination of learning for each section/ topic. Subjects covered in this second section of the text include queen rearing, foraging and bee botany, getting started in beekeeping, important events through the calendar year of beekeeping, pollination, pests and poisons, followed by a look into the future.

For the starting beekeeper, this is an excellent book to read after Backyard Beekeeping by Flottum, or Beekeeping for Dummies by Blackiston. For more advanced beekeepers, this is one of those texts that would be worth having around, should you plan on testing as a master beekeeper at some point. During this colder and more quiet time of the beekeeping year, I highly recommend sitting down next to the fire and reading what Dewey Caron has to offer in these pages, to better understand our beloved honey bee.

 

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