Is bee-talk keeping you awake?

So, you’re hauling bees across the country – and you’re drowsy. Or having trouble staying awake while doing the dull, repetitive manual labour we call extracting. What do you do? A lot of people keep their eyes open by listening to a good podcast or audiobook.

Over the past year, I’ve written about two of my favourite bee podcasts.  Kiwimana, recorded by Gary and Margaret Fawcett in New Zealand, has a nice mix of news and interviews with beekeepers. They talk to bee folk all over the world, making it a truly international podcast. A while ago, Gary caught up with me for about an hour – you can listen to that interview here: KM113 with Ron Miksha.

Another podcast which I enjoy is PolliNation, from Oregon State’s Andony Melathopoulos. Andony, a fellow Calgarian whom I’ve known for years, does bee and pollinator extension work in the USA at Oregon State. He interviews people active in pollination with all sorts of pollinators (especially bees) and in all sorts of habitats. Last year, I chatted with Andony for his 54th podcast, Ron Miksha – Crop Pollination: Past, Present and Future. My interview was largely a look back on how we used to pollinate with honey bees, in the old days though I made some predictions about the future of pollination that are bound to be wrong.

Podcasts are one way to make use of otherwise boring trucking and extracting time. But a few days ago, a member of our local bee club (Calgary and District Beekeepers) mentioned that some old bee books are available as free audiobooks. These free recordings are readings from books that are older than 1923, which means the copyrights have expired. As such, any of us can copy, annotate, post, and publish or record any bits we like without infringing on anyone’s legal rights. This includes reading them for an audiobook site.

One such free audiobook site is LibriVox which carries the tag Free public domain audiobooks read by volunteers from around the world. If you have a pleasant voice, some free time, and an old bee book, you could contribute, too. I’m not a great reader, often tripping up words and mispronouncing some of them, but if I ever find myself with a few extra hours, I’ll volunteer.

Langstroth's Hive and Honey-Bee, first published in 1853

Langstroth’s Hive and Honey-Bee, first published in 1853

The site has a search option, so you will find a few classics such as Langstroth’s  Hive and the Honey Bee. What would Reverend Langstroth think if he knew that his book, written back in 1853,  was ‘recorded’ by someone else’s voice, then enjoyed on a small gadget by beekeepers using automatic whirling machines to sling honey from Langstroth frames? It’s  amazing to think of the new things we use everyday – cell phones, electricity, and big flatbed trucks, all of which he wouldn’t recognize – yet the basic hive and frame that Langstroth developed is largely unchanged.

To enjoy audio clips of bee classics, go to the LibriVox site. There, you can listen on your computer without downloading. You may also link into iTunes and park the audio files there.  Below are some of the bee books available from LibriVox. These books are pretty old, so the modern reader is cautioned to ignore a lot of the advice, or at least use a sieve to filter out the bees knees from the honey. But for a quaint historical perspective, they are good. Enjoy!

Burroughs: Birds and Bees, Sharp Eyes, and Other Papers

Casteel: The Behavior of the Honey Bee in Pollen Collecting

Clark: Constructive Beekeeping

Edwardes: The Lore of the Honey-Bee

Fabre: The Mason-Bees

Langstroth: The Hive and Honey Bee

Lockard: Bee Hunting

Saunders: Wild Bees, Wasps and Ants and Other Stinging Insects

Wolf: Apis Mellifica

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
This entry was posted in Beekeeping, Books, Culture, or lack thereof, History and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Is bee-talk keeping you awake?

  1. Erik says:

    Good to know, thanks Ron. I downloaded their iPhone app. I’ve tried reading the hive and the honey bee and just couldn’t get into the printed edition. I enjoy audio books so will have to try to give it a listen.


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