The best books about bees

Thor Hanson Author Of Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees
By Thor Hanson

The Books I Picked & Why

Bees: An Up-Close Look at Pollinators Around the World

By Laurence Packer, Sam Droege

Bees: An Up-Close Look at Pollinators Around the World

Why this book?

There is a rich literature on bees, but I can’t think of a better place to start than the wonderful photography and storytelling found in this beautiful book. Arranged geographically, each page contains close-up images of a particular bee spcies from around the world, alongside a brief description. The authors are both top-notch entomologists, so the text is highly accurate and well written. But it’s the photography that really dazzles, showing off the surprising range of shapes, sizes, and colors that make bees more diverse than all the birds and mammals put together. This book can be read straight through with pleasure, but I also enjoy just opening it up at random for a quick bee blast.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Bumblebee Economics

By Bernd Heinrich

Bumblebee Economics

Why this book?

This book offers a wonderful combination of scientific discovery and homespun natural history. Heinrich later gained fame studying ravens, but he cut his scientific teeth as an entomologist, unraveling the mysteries of how bumblebees budget their energy – as individuals, and as a community. The ideas captured here, and the excitement with which he conveys them, have become models for the study of insect lives.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Sacred Bee in Ancient Times and Folklore

By Hilda M. Ransome

The Sacred Bee in Ancient Times and Folklore

Why this book?

This quirky little title captures a wealth of information about the deep relationship between people and bees. Ransome delves into mythology and folklore from around the world and across a huge span of history. Every page seems to offer some new and unexpected connection or story, from ancient Egyptians ferrying their honeybee hives up and down the River Nile to the Mayans cultivating a rainforest species with the agreeable trait of lacking a sting. No other book gives the reader such an exhaustive and entertaining exploration of how bees, more so than any other insect, have been part of human cultures since the dawn of civilization.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Queen Must Die: And Other Affairs of Bees and Men

By William Longgood

The Queen Must Die: And Other Affairs of Bees and Men

Why this book?

There are scores of beekeeping memoirs in print, many of them very engaging. But if I had to choose only one, there is something to be said for this little classic. The biological information is good, but the book rises above the average in the way Longwood conveys it - with charm, wit, and an obvious fondness for his chosen subjects. Paired with a modern how-to manual, this volume could convince just about anyone to try their hand with hive, suit, and smoker.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America's Bees

By Joseph S. Wilson, Olivia J Messinger Carril

The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America's Bees

Why this book?

The only thing better than reading about bees is getting outside and seeing some! This book combines good pictures with descriptions of behavior and habitats that will help identify what you find – if not to species, then at least to the major families and groups. Though focused on North America, many of the same general types of bees can be encountered anywhere: sweat bees, miners, diggers, leafcutters, cuckoo bees, and more. In addition to the identification tips, the book includes a generous introduction to bee biology and behavior, as well as a primer on how to improve the bee habitat in any yard through the addition of flowers, nesting sites, and more.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Random Book Lists