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Roger Patterson's Books

Books on practical beekeeping

I started beekeeping in 1963 and I am a practical beekeeper, with much of what I know being learnt by handling and observing honey bees during well over half a century in the craft. Bees are brilliant teachers that have taught me a lot. The modern beekeeper tends to learn in a different way than the older beekeepers did. There is now much more of an emphasis on attending lessons or courses, which tend to be classroom based. When I teach, I suggest to people they will probably retain more information by getting their head stuck into a beehive, but beekeepers don't have as many opportunities as beekeepers once did because they keep less colonies than the older beekepers did.

When I speak or demonstrate, I often hear "I didn't know that", "I've never heard or seen that" or similar, but much is second nature to me. A few friends suggested that my knowledge that has been gained over a long time in the craft will be lost if I don't write it down. The result is in the books I have written, that I list below. "Beekeeping. A Practical Guide" has had its own page for many years, which I will retain, but for the others, I will just do a short introduction and in italics display what is written on the back cover of the books.

Beekeeping. A Practical Guide

This was my first book that was published in 2012. It was intended for those thinking of starting beekeeping, or just had, but I know that many more experienced beekeepers use it. Please be aware there is another book by the same title. More information can be got by clicking the button top left.

Colony Increase: The Roger Patterson Method

I wrote this book because it unearths some well proven techniques the modern beekeeper may not be taught.

"This book includes several methods of colony increase that can be used individually or in one complete method as described. All elements, although they may not be part of mainstream teaching, have been consistently successful for the author for well over 40 years, using standard equipment.

The "Roger Patterson Method", if used as described, can produce a tenfold increase in the number of colonies per year in favourable conditions. This is an excellent method for sustainably producing bees to supply new beekeepers and for providing an income stream for commercial beekeepers. Several queens can also be mated in the nucs during the summer, so adding value. Producing bees and queens locally avoids the use of imports that are a concern to many beekeepers, owing to disease risks and genetic disruption of the local bee population.

The author, Roger Patterson, is a well-respected practical beekeeper. He has condensed over 50 years of beekeeping and colony increase experience into this small book for others to copy and/or adapt."

The Teaching Apiary: A brilliant resource

I firmly believe that a well organised teaching apiary is essential for more experienced and knowledgeable beekeepers to demonstrate their knowledge and skills to others. I hope this book helps achieve that.

"The author, Roger Patterson, has had well over half a century's involvement with the teaching apiary at the Wisborough Green Beekeepers Association (WGBKA) in West Sussex, UK, where he has done the full circle of learning, teaching and managing. As a well-known and well-travelled speaker, educator and demonstrator, Roger has visited and demonstrated at many teaching apiaries throughout the country. With this wealth of experience, there is probably nobody better placed to write a book summing up some of the issues and opportunities surrounding this valuable resource.

This book provides help and information for all beekeepers. For BKA officials, demonstrators and apiary managers there is guidance to set up a facility if none exists, with suggestions for improving apiaries already in existence. The ordinary beekeeper who is keen to learn has an indication of what they should seek to gain from their local teaching apiary. There is much discussed in this publication, with the emphasis on teaching practical beekeeping and putting into practice the theory that can be taught away from the bees, so beekeeping standards are improved for everyone. All teaching apiaries have their own character depending on their situations, such as how they are set up and who owns the apiary site. There is discussion on some of these issues and the challenges that are often faced."

Beekeeping: Challenge what you are told

I expected to get some heavy criticism about this book, beause I question some of the "standard teaching", but it hasn't happened. I have had many kind comments instead.

"Have you ever met a beekeeper with fixed opinions about a beekeeping topic? Have you questioned what experience and knowledge they are based on? The craft used to be local, traditionally learnt by observing bees, whereas today, we are bombarded with international communications, promotions, soundbites, sensationalism and the like, with the same information, whether reliable or not, appearing in many places. Taking inappropriate advice can mean a dead colony, so we need to occasionally check and challenge what we are told.

In a departure from the usual beekeeping book, the author boldly questions some mainstream teaching and dogma. Rather than criticising, he offers possible alternatives which are based on many years of experience and some common sense. This book is a must for all beekeepers, from those new to the craft who may be very proficient and professional in other aspects of their lives but influenced by seeing the same, possibly unreliable, information in several places, to more experienced beekeepers, who may have seen errors in what they have been told, but blamed the bees rather than what may be poor information.

Not every anecdote, myth or scientific finding can be covered but this book visits a whole range of topics about honey bees, how they behave, the observation and management of colonies, the equipment, pests and diseases, a goodly amount on queens and queen cells as well as general beekeeping.

Having read the book and its refreshingly welcome look at fallacies, universal beekeeping "truths" and everything in between, the reader should be encouraged to have a more questioning approach to their beekeeping knowledge growth by seeking new things to learn, reviewing some past assumptions and modifying their management system. As the title says: "Challenge what you are told". Ignore this book at your peril!"

Queen Rearing Made Easy: The Punched Cell Method

This book describes a very simple way of raising queens for the small - medium scale beekeeper.

"Raising queens using the Punched Cell method has been in use since the early 20th century. Until now, the booklet "Raise Your Own Queens by the Punched Cell Method" by Richard Smailes, that was first published in 1970, was the most comprehensive source of information. Possibly due to the irregular supply of punches, few have continued to practice the method and it has largely gone out of use, though the author, Roger Patterson, has used it successfully for over 50 years. In this book Roger describes the method he uses, as well as giving other useful information.

Small-scale queen rearing is needed more than ever to overcome the increasing number of queen imports into the UK and their genetic impact on locally adapted and native bees. For many, weak eyes and trembling hands make the idea of larval transfer via grafting a worrying challenge, especially when the larva is separated from its food and the potential queen is often dumped unceremoniously into a plastic cup of some kind.

The Punched Cell method that Roger describes does not separate the larva from its food, it is not moved from its original wax cell and it is not touched in any way during the whole process. Good light is not even needed; indeed, the whole process can be easily performed on a hive roof in the apiary.

This well illustrated and practical book covers the history, methods and examples of how every beekeeper can have their own sustainable supply of quality queens for many years to come at little cost, with little skill required."

To buy the last four books look at the BIBBA website.

Roger Patterson.

Page created 16/11/2022