I'm so new to bee keeping, I don't even have a hive yet. Or even a cute, bee-related screen name. Actually, I'm just reading, visiting forums, etc to learn all I can so I can decide if I'm up to the challenge. I'm glad I started with books about honey bees first, rather than about bee keeping.
Some of my favorite books so far....
Books about bees in general: A Short History of the Honey Bee, by Readicker-Henderson and McCarty; The Buzz about Bees : biology of a superorganism by Tautz, Sandeman, et al (I love how they compare bees to mammals!).
Books about beekeeping: A Book of Bees by Hubbell; Beekeeping for Dummies (yeah, yeah, I know. But it has actually been much more helpful to me as a complete novice than some of the others, like The Backyard Beekeeper by Flottum (which I particularly didn't like) or Hive Management by Bonney.
I'm excited about Storey's Guide To Keeping Honeybees coming out late this summer. Storey's are usually pretty useful. I hope it's not too, um, industrial.
What's funny to me is when I first started talking to my co-worker about beekeeping she asked if I were going to get some hives and I said I didn't think so as it seemed really complicated: queen excluders! top feeders! Super!? I didn't even know that there was only one queen per colony. Or that worker bees were all female! Go ahead, laugh. It's funny. But after several books I told her I was definitely going to get two hives this fall so I could put them together over winter and be ready for Spring.
It's amazing how many false assumptions I had about bees (and probably still have and don't even know it!). I saw two swarms where I work last Spring. Last year I'm all "Oh, no! They're probably Africanized bees out to make a kill and drag it back to their lair!" Now I want to hug them and pet them and love them.
I was a little confused at first by the vast differences of opinion on keeping bees (not unlike advice on gardening!), but now I'm beginning to see how things will suit my needs and/or how I'll just have to experiment. I'm seeing how a lot of things are suggested for climates/situations much different than my area. It seems a lot of books don't make it real clear that much of their advice is for beekeepers with four distinct seasons, especially that one called 'winter.' I see active bees all year long at my house, so I'm currently trying to up the winter blooming vegetation around my place. (Another thing learned, bees don't like just any ol' bloomin' thing! I'm starting to have a different viewpoint about 'weeds.')
My goals are to manage no more than two hives. I have no desire to go into any kind of business. I became interested because for several years I've enjoyed interacting with the bees that flock all over the hummingbird feeders (except the one time I was stung, that wasn't fun, but it was my fault). I usually just blow gently on the bees and they move enough I can get the lids off the feeders then I can kind of shake them off. Now I read you're never supposed to blow on them?! Well, it never seemed to make them mad. Yet. I also like watching the bees sit on my tea cup in the mornings when I'm sloppy with the honey. And last year I watched one sip wine for about ten seconds before I decided it probably wasn't good for it.
This winter I decided to find out more about them and have just became fascinated by the idea of managing a hive or two. It also makes me wonder where the many bees around my house live. It's not like I was completely ignorant, I knew wild bees made honey. Somewhere. But I never really thought about each bee having a home and a job. I guess I just thought they only did that if they wanted to. (Hey, at least I never thought bees came from dead oxen!)
I've been reading through the forum, but I've got a long way to go. I'm not yet ready to contact some local folks to ask if I can watch them work. I know now is the time I should be doing that, but maybe by late summer I'll feel confident enough to catch some of the end of summer work.
Thanks for letting me join the forum. I look forward to taking advantage of your collective knowledge.