We spent 4th of July with some fellow homesteading friends in the small town of Grantsville, Utah (nothing better than a small town 4th!) and in a rare moment of the baby napping and the kids outside playing, I was lounging in their comfy reading chair, lost in the little, red book, Honeybee, by Marina Marchese. Liz, my friend, walked in and (this is so part of why I love her) asked with genuine, book lover interest, “Whatcha readin’?” I flipped the book up so she could see the title and a smile lit her face. I mentioned that it was good and then after a moment I added, “It would be good for you to read. You’d like it.” I realized later that the two statements, while correct, weren’t necessarily the same thing.
The fact is, this book would be great for anyone interested in bees to read but this book is for normal people – not biologists, but normal book-loving, wanna-be-beekeeping sorts of people. Marchese has such an engaging way of telling her “Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper” that you hardly notice all the technical information you’re absorbing. Her story is one of true conversion to the beekeepers’ art and she began her journey, as many of us do, by falling madly in love with honey. She talks about leaving her 9-5, albeit creative work, to follow the siren’s call of fresh honey in her backyard. Her book includes narratives about attending beekeeping association meetings for the first time, being mentored by a neighbor beekeeper, the newbie passion of working with her bees and the more experienced bee mother’s worries over her hives. If you’re a novice in the world of bee keeping, you won’t be intimidated by her language – this isn’t a bee keeping manual, it’s a good book that happens to include a lot of useful bee keeping instruction. Whether new to bee keeping or well seasoned, you’ll love reading her experience in Italy learning to taste test honey as you would a fine wine; she has a whole section on grading honey with your palette and how that’s done the world over. She includes some recipes, a list of varietals of honey and a vocabulary lesson in honey labels in three languages. There’s also a glossary (in English), if you get lost.
So, yes, my friend would be enriched as a bee keeping student by reading this book. But she’d also like it just because it’s a fun read with worthwhile content that has it’s own merit in the world of prose. To be honest, her raptures over the sweet bees and the amazing qualities of honey threaten to leave the world of prose and fly into poetry.
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