Book Review – The Beekeeper’s Problem Solver

The Beekeeper’s Problem Solver
Tew, James E
Quarry Books, 2015

Billed as “100 common problems Explored and Explained” this book caught my attention as I was trying to determine why my bees had started acting differently a few weeks ago. I found my answer from another source (the bees were too hot – adding a screened top board to the already screened bottom board and some shade reduced that issue) but when I came across this book at a bookstore checkout display a few days ago I decided it would be worth having a copy of.

Using the prior condition as a quick test, I went looking for an answer. My bees had been very docile and easy to work with and be around, but one day I noticed many of them hovering outside the hive during the day and in the evening a large cluster hung out on the front of the hive. The next day, as I was watching them from about 15 feet away, a bee shot out of the hive on a direct path to my head and delivered a sting right above my temple. So the problem I was looking at was “why did I get stung when I have been doing the same thing much closer for weeks and they weren’t bothered” and “why are the bees hanging out around the hive entrance?”

I did indeed find what I was looking for. Problem 27” “My bees seem to sting more often than normal” includes, among other, increased temperature as a cause of bees turning more aggressive. Problem 38 “The bees are gathering at the front of the hive” attributes that to things being too hot in the hive. A simple check, but one that provided a bit of confidence that others in the book would also be useful.

Rathar than keeping it on hand as a simple reference, I opted to study the book and my enthusiasm began to wane. A couple of examples:

Example 1 – Problem 1 “I don’t know how to start beekeeping”. Perhaps I put too much faith in logic, but this seems an odd start for a book called the beekeeper’s problem solver. In other words, you are turning to it to solve a beekeeping problem because, ostensibly, you are a beekeeper. Further, in the discussion on this problem it basically states that beekeeping books have too much information for a beginner. So if you came to this book looking for help in starting beekeeping, it pretty much says go away.

Example 2 – You need to move a colony several hundred feet, you’ve got a hand truck, on with it go. And you hit a stick, or a rut, or whatever, and the cart jostles, the boxes slip and in a painful slow motion moment topple off the cart. Now you’ve got a hive in utter disarray and probably not happy about it. Maybe a super actually broke in the fall and you’ve got frames strewn across the area and no box to put them in. Oh dear, what to do? Turn to your handy problem solver, Problem 22 “A hand truck loaded with a colony tipped over”. And the answer: You’ve got a mess on your hands, don’t let it happen in the first place. Any suggestions as to what to do with the actual mess? No.

There are many other cases of this type of response. Taking a rough swag at it, I’m going to estimate that of the 100 problems less than 30 are what I would consider to be the areas I would pick up the book to look into. Of those, maybe 15 answers with enough detail to be useful. Not an overly high success rate in my opinion.

So much for the content. The book layout is OK, with most of the listed “problems” having an associated picture – sometimes related to the text, other times not so closely done. It is a paperback, and unfortunately my outer binding separated from the inner on probably the 5th time I opened the book.

All in all a promising concept that was not executed to the level I had expected, and a book I would have a hard time recommending.

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