Review

Become a Beevangelist

Our bees are in trouble, but Doug Purdie is on a mission to create an army of beekeepers across Australia before it’s too late.

backyard-bees

Product details

Product name: Backyard Bees: a Guide for the Beginner Beekeeper

Reviewer: Jessica Crisp

Author: Doug Purdie

Publisher: Murdoch Books

Price: $35.00

Buy Online: Angus & Robertson

G Rating:

5

Whether you are thinking of keeping your own hive or just want to know more about those busy bees and that golden nectar they create, Backyard Bees: A guide for the beginner beekeeper is a beautiful place to start.

A comprehensive and timely book, it demonstrates just how easy and rewarding beekeeping can be. All you need is a bit of space in your backyard or rooftop, and willingness to get passed that age-old cartoon image of a swarm of angry bees heading straight for you. Apparently, it’s nothing like that.

Backyard Bees covers every aspect of becoming a beekeeper (or apiarist as the real professionals are known), from learning how to keep these special creatures healthy and happy to harvesting that fresh, liquid gold. In between, there’s extensive advice on choosing a hive, the equipment you’ll need and a season-by-season guide to their care. Anecdotes and beautiful images litter the book, while the final pages are dedicated to recipes for the fruits of your labour, including a French honey loaf, Bees Knees cocktails and beeswax lip balm.

A self-confessed 'beevangelist', Doug Purdie went from reading about clandestine beekeeping on New York rooftops to managing 70 urban beehives in just five short years. And he wants us to join him in the revival of this time-honoured tradition.

“One of the unbelievable things that I have discovered talking to people about bees is that we are so disconnected from our food. Many people don’t even realise that bees pollinate our food and that without them we have a major problem,” he says in the book.

“Bees have a bad rap and I would like to try to educate people about how easy bees are to keep; they don’t need a lot of time and by having a hive you are helping the planet, and your neighbours vegetable patch,” he adds.

Currently, the world bee population is in crisis and faced with two major threats: the varroa destructor parasite that can take down whole colonies, and colony collapse disorder. Luckily, neither has reached Australia yet, so Purdie wants urban beekeeping to be the front line in raising awareness and protecting our local bee populations against these threats.

If that isn’t enough to convince you to start your own hive, then maybe this will. According to Purdie, a standard hive could deliver between 50 and 100 kilograms of honey, all produced by bees that have foraged locally to create a unique, delicious harvest.

Once you have been introduced to the charms of beekeeping and the taste of warm honeycomb fresh from the hive, you’ll be hooked. Purdie believes the more of us that come to love, understand and care for our bees, the better. And there’s no better place to start than with Backyard Bees.

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