Depending on your location you may be lucky enough to find training, all the standard Dadant hive education you can find is totally in contrast to warre.
Sort of like going to an agricultural college vs taking a permaculture design course.
Joined: Dec 06, 2011
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
I recommend looking at different approaches with an open mind, and selecting what suits your goals, time constraints, etc.
There's tons of information on beekeeping with standard Langstroth hives. For more 'natural' approaches, check out these:
I second finding a mentor, the older and crustier the better. I'd recommend avoiding anyone that does migratory beekeeping, look for a small beekeeper that sells honey at the local farmers markets and such.
For a technical text the bible for years has been the The ABC and Xyz of Bee Culture by Roger Morse. Out of print but worth tracking down.
Come and stay at Embercombe in Devon for an inspiring weekend learning about 'natural beekeeping' in top-bar hives - a bee friendly way to have bees in your garden with the possibility of your own honey harvest, but without the expense and complications associated with commercial beekeeping equipment. Facilitated by Embercombe's own beekeepers Tim Hall and Jessie Watson Brown. The course is hands-on and as experiential as the weather allows.
Joined: Aug 04, 2012
Location: Manitowoc WI USA Zone 5
One way is to find an older long experienced beekeeper that wants to retire from the craft. Buying his equipment is important, but if you could spend a year or so with the beekeeper, that would be priceless.
I have read a lot of books, I don't know if there is a bad book either. The best book I read was "50 years amongst the Bees", right now I am picking my way through "Beekeeping for Profit and Pleasure". This is my second summer with girls and putting the book knowledge to actual experience is very rewarding.
Im aware this is an old thread but for those who come to read it I will add my favorites;
Books which helped me are
Top-bar Beekeeping by Les Crowder (/practical stuff great hive maintenance illustartions)
The Barefoot Beekeepr by Phil Candler (phylosophy on top bar beekeeping)
The Buzz About Bees by Jurgen Tautz (up to date bee biology)
You can also find lots of info on biobees.com and beesource.com (both forums)
I am an api-centric beekeeper who has been teaching natural beekeeping with top bar and warre hives for over 10 years.
I do NOT reccommend as so many others do, that you look for your local beekeeepers association as your first move if you are looking to do natural beekeeping without chemical inputs r sugar water.
Or if you do, just beware that much of the advice you will get is filtered down from conventional beekeeping that does not trust nature to work it out!
Of the animals that humans utilize, bees are the least domesticated and need us not at all. Most human input is interference in a system that is gorgeous and self-sustaining.
And the problems with honey bees so often in the news is a direct result not only of bad agricultural practices, but bad apicultural practices (you can read my take on this here: http://www.sparkybeegirl.com/beeccd.html It is changing slowly, so some associations do have some voices of sanity within them, and the top bar hive has finally been offered as an option in major beekeeping supply catalogs so it has gained some ground and credibility in that world (still cheaper to build em yourself tho) so old time beekeepers are less likely to tell you you are an insane freak of nature.
Anyway--there are finally some great beekeeping books on the market--especially two great top bat books
Les Crowder (better for warmer climates) Top Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honey Bee Health
Christy Hemenway (better for cooler climate) The Thinking Beekeeper.
For truly natural, hand-off beekeeping check out the people hive (warre). Plans and book online in their entireltyhttp://warre.biobees.com/ The book by Chandler is OK, but please beware--he wrote ot after being a beekeeper for only 3 years, so his experience is limited--to become a true master in beekeeper takes many years, I would not personally want to learn from someone doing it for such a short time--of the people I mentioned, Les has been around the bees the longest.
Read up about local beekeeping teachers and ask them if they use chemicals, miticides, antibiotics or feed sugar water before you opt to learn from them
Trust the bees.