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The Beekeeper’s Lament and other book reviews

This holiday season found me with some extra time to read. We went to the library and I found several books that were on my list and a few in the new section that looked fun. I also was able to pull a few off my shelves to enjoy again.

Here’s a run down on the books I’ve enjoyed recently…

The Beekeeper’s Lament: How One Man and Half a Billion Honey Bees Help Feed AmericaThis book is about John Miller, commercial beekeeper. More importantly, it’s a book about bees as a commercial product and the pros and cons of that. It was a super easy read, you walk away feeling like you really “know” Mr. Miller and can sympathize with the dilemma of the commercial beekeeper. Here’s the deal, because bees can be used as commercial pollinators there’s lots of money from almond and other fruit growers to do bee research. That’s a good thing. But the use of bees as commercial pollinators causes or encourages some of the problems we see with bees such as mites, colony collapse, etc. That’s a bad thing. I think any kind of commercial farming is hard. We have friends who farm commercially and I see the struggles they face. Commercial beekeeping is no different.

As I read the book, it confirmed in me that the future of the bee lies in the hands of the small beekeeper. When you only have a few hives or even a few dozen you can care for them better than you can when you have 30,000 that you’re trucking all over the US to pollinate fruit trees. Since they stay in one area the likelihood of them being exposed to weak or diseased hives diminishes. You’ll probably never get rich off of keeping a few bee hives but if you have even a little space I would encourage you to consider it.

Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create CommunityThis was a fun book that I saw in the new section at the library. It’s written by Joy Deagndeelert Cho of Oh!Joy In it she talks about blogging as a business and interviews quite a few other bloggers, most of which are design or craft bloggers. I think if you’re new to blogging or are looking to take your blog “to the next level”, whatever level that is, this book will have some ideas for you. One idea I took away from it was sizing my photos before I upload them. I’m going to try to do that so that my photos are all about the same width. I’ve been wanted to figure that out for a long time and there the secret was in this little book. I’m totally DIY so no amazing photos promises here, but I’m gonna try.

The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start MakingThis is a book I’ve talked about before. I checked it out from the library before going on vacation and I loved it. I bought it and have been making some of the recipes. The cheese crackers are amazing, by the way. Each recipe has a little story from the author’s life. I really liked the stories. I also appreciate that all the recipes had a photo and that for the most part all of them use normal everyday ingredients.

Eat Your Yard: Edible Trees, Shrubs, Vines, Herbs, and Flowers For Your LandscapeA friend gave me this book after mine got accidentally put in the burn barrel (a long with my gardening notebook) a while back. This book covers all kinds of edibles and shows you how to grow them. This is a great overview book. There’s not a ton of info on each plant but enough to know if you could grow that plant in your yard.

Grow FruitThis is probably my favorite fruit growing book. It has all kinds of information for each fruit. Each fruit has a section on planting, maintaining and harvesting that plant. It also has great pictures – I’m a sucker for great pictures.

Growing Tasty Tropical Plants: *in any home, anywhere. (like lemons, limes, citrons, grapefruit, kumquats, sunquats, tahitian oranges, barbados … tea, black pepper, cinnamon, vanilla  This is a fun book written by a nursery owner up North. They grow tons of tropical plants – in pots. We are well on our way to growing lots of fruit but I’d love to try to grow things like black pepper, cinnamon and vanilla. I’ve had several people comment that we’re lucky to be able to grow citrus and I certainly don’t take that for granted but a lot of citrus can be grown in doors in large pots. So if you have room inside for a large pot you might consider growing a citrus or two. And this book can tell you how.

The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids: 101 Ways to Get Kids Outside, Dirty, and Having FunI love the premise of this book. I believe that by and large kids don’t get the opportunity to be outside having fun. In fact, a lot of them would rather not go outside. This book is all about getting kids outside. The projects are geared toward the garden but you don’t have to garden to do a lot of these projects. There’s painted rock garden markers, recipes for things like lip balm and bath salts, gourd bird houses, and owl houses. There’s also good information on beginning a garden and edible recipes. And, of course, there’s lots of beautiful pictures.

Stop. Go. Quilt. Sew!: Make12 Fun Projects for Boys to EnjoyIt’s not often I find a sewing book that is geared towards big boys so I was excited to see this in our library’s new section. Now, there’s probably nothing in here that my teenage boys would want but a 5-10 year old boy – now that’s another story. Angela Yosten has done an amazing job of putting together projects that have to do with cars. Each project has very clear instructions and there’s patterns and templates in the back of the book. There’s the Stop and Go pillowcase to go along with the No Parking Duvet and the Do Not Enter messenger bag. My personal favorite is the Slow nap sack. I found myself wishing I had a non tween or teenage son. This is a book I will probably buy and keep for when I have grandkids. I liked it that much.

Embroidery: 35 Projects to Decorate, Celebrate, and Embellish (Better Homes & Gardens Crafts)I really want to embroidery. I have lots of supplies and even a basket sitting in my bedroom ready to go with a half tea towel completed. But something is missing. I’m not sure what…maybe time or maybe eyesight. Or maybe, projects that excite me. But when I sat looking at this book I kept calling Phoebe over to see all the projects. They are just lovely and look pretty easy. There’s projects for the home and for the holidays, projects that will make good gifts and a section on the basics of embroidery. There’s not tons of information on stitching but I think there’s plenty if you’re at all familiar with hand stitching. There’s patterns in a pocket in the back. And, of course, great pictures.

The Home Orchard Handbook: A Complete Guide to Growing Your Own Fruit Trees Anywhere (Backyard Series) This is a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while and was excited to find that my library carries it. It gives a great overview of how to grow a home orchard. There’s chapters on selecting your site, selecting plants, planting, irrigation and fertilization, pruning and weeding, troubleshooting and harvesting. The other fruit books I’ve read look at each fruit individually while this book looks at your orchard as a whole. I think there’s some benefit to that. We have several areas to grow fruit trees but we still need to be careful not to shade our garden. Some of the trees on our property are easily 30 feet tall so they cast a long shadow. Our area that we have the citrus trees in is full, we have an orange and a grapefruit tree that will need to be planted in another area. My mom and her husband gave us 4 peach trees and 2 plum trees for Christmas so we’ve been thinking about where the best place on our property is to plant them. So, we’ve been referring to this book quite a bit…I might have to recheck it.

{disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. While I really liked all of these books I suggest checking them out from your library and looking at them first before deciding if you want to own it.}

What have you been reading lately? Feel free to share in the comments.

This post is shared at Barn Hop #94, Backyard Farming Connection, What’s on Your Nightstand,

{This post contains affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.}

Thanks for sharing with your friends!


Thursday 24th of January 2013

Wow what a cool looking group of books. I'm definitely interested in The Homemade Pantry. Happy reading!


Monday 28th of January 2013

I think you'll really enjoy The Homemade Pantry. I've loved it.

Tattered Tiques

Sunday 13th of January 2013

I love to read these kinds of books. A little bit of everything. I will be back, as it looks like you have a lot to offer! Can't wait.Julie


Tuesday 15th of January 2013

Thanks, Julie, looking forward to it.

Nici Higby

Saturday 12th of January 2013

What a great lineup of books. I wrote down a couple of them to check into. I'm your newest GFC follower. I wanted to thank you for stopping by today and leaving me a sweet comment on my Sea Salt Sprinkled Caramels. I hope you'll visit again soon and maybe even follow me back. Have a wonderful weekend!Blessings,Nici


Tuesday 15th of January 2013

Thanks, Nici


Friday 11th of January 2013

I LOVE watching bees of all kinds - they are so amazing! We live on the outskirts of Anchorage, Alaska and have lots of black bears and moose that wander through our property during the warmer part of the year, and that has kept us from investing in bees and chickens, too. Without a high electric fence, bears just rip right into whatever they want to get. We've talked about a solar powered battery for the fence, but it's still out of our budget range. Guess I'll just keep supporting the local bee keepers and farmers.

I'm reading (well, re-reading for 3rd time) two great books about gardening and cooking in England - Tender and Ripe by Nigel Slater. The recipes are wonderful and just exotic enough that I feel like i'm on a great adventure when I make one of them.


Tuesday 15th of January 2013

Wow, Alaska! I can't even imagine trying to keep bees in Alaska. How fun to be albe to see black bears and moose on your property.

I'll have to check those book out. Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday 9th of January 2013

This is a great list of books! I would really like to get some bees some day, although everyone says they are expensive to keep and that's a little discouraging. :/


Thursday 10th of January 2013

We've only been keeping bees for about a year. My 15yo son is really the beekeeper. He has actually made quite a bit of money doing bee removal and selling the honey. He's also been able to get a lot of his equipment used. If you click on my bee link in the side bar you can see the posts about how he did this. If you really want bees I would start putting the word out - I think you'll be surprised at what people have that they're no longer using.