An almost completely Australian-centric overview on the delights and benefits of backyard beekeeping. It's informative for those, like me, brand-spanking-new to bees, and beautifully put together with loads of full-colour photography.
The first section of the book focuses on the basics of keeping European honeybees, touching on the different hive types, honey collection, and diseases/pests that affect the Australian population of EU honeybees. The highlight of this section was a small selection of recipes/instructions for way to use your honey and beeswax. I was especially excited to see instructions for making your own food storage wraps, as we are devotees of these things; knowing I can renew them myself has me excited to try it. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check them out here - they replace plastic wrap for a lot of food storage and you have to see how well a cut avocado lasts wrapped in one of these things to believe it.
The second section focuses on keeping the Australian stingless bees, which also produce honey, also known as sugarbag honey, albeit in about 1/10th the amounts. The enthusiasm for the stingless variety is boundless here, and I can see why: even with much less harvestable honey, if any, the stingless are, well, stingless. They also require almost no extra equipment or maintenance, unlike the more productive EU honey bees.
A third section discusses the other native Australian bees, almost all of which are solitary, produce no honey, and sting. But oh, are they amazing to look at, and I was especially interested in this section. Alas, if it wasn't a stingless, few of the contributors were interested.
That's my only real beef about this book; with all the information and instructions included, they don't have any instructions for making a 'bee hotel' that attracts a blue-banded bee, which, as some of you might remember, is my favorite of the natives. They like to nest in holes bored into clay or mud bricks you can make yourself, but apparently not any old clay or mud will do, so some instructions for this would have been welcome - especially as they do tell you how to make your own bee hotels for other natives.
If you've read this far down and aren't an Aussie, you must be interested in bees, so to keep this from being a total waste, here are a few pics of the cooler natives Down Under, starting with my favorite, the Blue Banded Bee:
the metallic green bee:
and one I've yet to see, and neon cuckoo bee:
blue banded: mine.