Bees and honey are amazing. They are little honey-producing machines, and honey is an astonishing substance used in quite a variety of functions, from feeding an entire colony of larvae to adulthood to antibiotic treatment of wounds including horrible burns. If you don’t believe me, take a look at USDA Bulletin 1261, the first and as far as I know the most complete analysis of honey; it is the standard by which honey is sold commercially in the U.S.
Honey is quite possible the origin of fermented beverages in human lore. When rye rots it produces ergot, which makes people insane, but when honey “rots” it ferments into lovely beverages. Here are some of the books on my shelves about honey and bees. I am something of a hypocrite about bees, actually. I admire them and greedily buy up their hard-won stores, but am violently allergic to bee and wasp stings. I don’t dare keep hives, though I think it would be very interesting, and can only contribute to the global honeybee crisis by supporting my local apiaries whenever possible. Ah, me. At least I get to read some cracking good books about them.
If you want to know about bees and honey and haven’t read Eva Crane, hie thee to her now. She’s the matriarch of bee-and-honey writing. Your library can help.
The links to Amazon are affiliate links, meaning that your purchase through this link will allow me to earn a little money to keep this website running, thank you! That doesn’t mean you can’t find legal copies of some of the ones out of copyright on Google Books or the Gutenberg Project. Always, corrections and additions are welcome.
A Book of Honey. Crane, Eva.
ISBN: 0684166518 / Encore Editions / Hardcover / 1983-10
ISBN: 0192860100 / Oxford Paperbacks / Paperback / 1980-08-21
“A Swarm of Bee Words.” Kasselman, William (2007). http://www.billcasselman.com/unpublished_works/bee_words.htm
A taste of honey. Wittich, Boris. 1981. ISBN: 0906670179 / Alphabooks / Paperback / 1981
“Bees and Warfare.” Gleanings in Bee Culture. Ambrose, J.T. 1973., The A.I. Root Company, Medina, Ohio.
“Bees Go to War.” Morse, R.A. 1955. Gleanings in Bee Culture, The A.I. Root Company, Medina, Ohio. pp. 585-587.
Bees in Indo-European Languages Le Sage, D.E. International Bee Research Association, England. (reprint from _Bee World_ 55: 15-26, 46-52, 1974).
The British Beekeepers Association Dennis, Brian P. (Homepage) http://www.britishbee.org.uk/index.php.
From Honey to Ashes: Introduction to a Science of Mythology Levi-Strauss, Claude.. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers.
The Hive: The Story of the Honeybee and Us Wilson, Bee. 2006-05-03. ISBN: 0312342616 / Thomas Dunne Books / Hardcover / 2006-05-30
Honey: A comprehensive survey. Crane, Russak. 1975. ISBN: 0844800627 / Crane, Russak / Unknown Binding / 1975
The Honey Factory Stair, G. Miles, and Stair, Bette (Date unknown). Self published.
In Pursuit of Liquid Gold Ogden, R.B. Bee Books New & Old, 2001.
Letters from the Hive: An Intimate History of Bees, Honey, and Humankind. Buchmann, Steven and Benning Reppelier. 2006. ISBN: 0553382667; 0553803751
Lore of the Honey Bee – Natural History and Bee-Keeping. Edwardes, Tickner. 2006-01-01. ISBN: 1406799637 / Home Farm Books / Paperback / 2006-01-01
Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey–The Sweet Liquid Gold that Seduced the World. Bishop, Holley. 2006.
ISBN: 0743250222 / Free Press / Paperback / 2006-01-10
ISBN: 0743250214 / Free Press / Hardcover / 2005-03-22
USDA Technical Bulletin 1261: Honey Composition and Properties. White, J.W. Jr., and Doner, Landis W. (1980). Beekeeping in the United States, Agriculture Handbook Number 335, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. (available from the USDA website for free; read about it here)
And because you know I can’t resist good history, not even about something as tiny as a bee:
“Ancient Beekeeping.” Georghiou, G.P. 1980. The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture (Root, A.I., editors.) A.I. Root Company. Medina, Ohio. pp. 17-21.
The Archaeology of Beekeeping. Crane, Eva. 1984-01. ISBN: 0801416094 / Cornell Univ Pr / Hardcover ISBN: 0715616811 / Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd / Hardcover / 1983-10
Bechbretha: An Old Irish Law-Tract On Beekeeping Charles-Edwards, Thomas, and Kelly, Fergus (Eds) (1983). Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, W. & S. Magowan, Dublin & Dundalk.
The Feminine Monarchie, Or, A Treatise concerning bees and the Due Ordering of them. Butler, Charles. Oxford: Joseph Barnes, 1609.
The Sacred Bee in Ancient Times and Folklore Ransome, Hilda (2004). Dover Books on Anthropology and Folklore, New York.
Sweetness and Light: The Mysterious History of the Honeybee Ellis, Hattie. 2005-03-22 ISBN: 1400054052 / Harmony / Hardcover / 2005-03-22. ISBN: 0340734523 / Sceptre / Paperback / 2005-04-11