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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 8 July 2012
James offers us an entertainingly jolly, extremely readable account of all the trials and tribulations of becoming an English beekeeper. Not only is he combining this with a hefty workload as an international travel agent and being dad to a young toddler, he has to face the worried looks of his wife and friends as he turns into a complete bee geek. The book is written in diary format and follows his challenging journey during 2009 from complete bee novicery to getting his first pot of honey.

My favourite aspect of the book is that James is fearless in poking fun at himself. At a gangly 6'5, he creates a picture of himself as a clumsy Mr Bean style character, at one point falling down a flight of steps as he leaves his beekeeping classes. On another occasion he attempts to communicate with Polish beekeepers that he is a fellow beekeeper too by running around making buzzing noises and pointing at their honey - "As I walked away, I did turn back for one last look at these moustached Polish beekeepers and they were just looking at each other with a rather strange expression; one then shrugged whilst the other started laughing."

It is quite touching how completely absorbed he becomes in the bees, obsessively reading the nights away (a glass of red wine or whiskey at his side) and driving around trying to find out the local forage in his area. He also develops from being most interested in getting his first pot of honey to being deeply concerned with all the threats his bees and those across the world face. I think all of us beekeepers understand that feeling of wonderment at how much there is to learn, and how amazing these fascinating little creatures are.

By the way, if you choose to buy this book or indeed any other items from Amazon, please consider going through the Bumblebee Conservation Trust's Fundraising page at [...] first. Each time you access via their link and make a purchase this brilliant charity receives a donation worth 8% of your total purchase, at no extra cost to you.
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on 12 April 2015
I really enjoyed this book, having long been fascinated by bees but never having taken the trouble to find out much about them. This book assumes no knowledge at all and may be a good start for anyone thinking of keeping bees.

However, I really hesitate to call it a book at all: it is clearly just a series of blog posts, dashed off pretty carelessly, which would not much matter in the context where they originally appeared, but which is irritating for someone who has purchased this collection of posts as a book. The author comes across as a likeable character, but certain not a good writer! Some editing by a third party, with improvements to the style and removal of the considerable repetition natural in a series of blog posts, could make this a book worthy of the name.
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on 9 July 2012
This little book is charming, entertaining and full of fun - however along the way we do learn some of the basics of bee keeping and the ups and downs of this most interesting hobby. It is obvious that the author has a passion for his subject, and is not afraid to admit the mistakes he made on starting out. Bee keeping is an adventure and it is interesting to read how the author juggled his extremely busy job, and family responsibilities alongside his new venture with bees.

Is this a book that will teach you all you need to know about bee keeping? No, it is certainly not going to do that, but there are many great books out there that do cover in detail the ins and outs of the craft; this is however, a good introduction for the general reader about starting such a hobby, some of the joys and pitfalls that come along and also the plight of the bees in the world today.

It is an easy read and a satisfying one - there is much humour nestled among the pages and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in gardening, bee keeping and nature. Few people realise the plight of the bees and the pollinators, who are being wiped out in droves by the pesticides that are commonly used today in all our countries - and few seem to know that if the pollinators are gone, then so is mankind. If this book encourages even one person to think more about the pollinators in our world, then it will be a job well done. I highly recommend it.
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on 20 September 2014
This is a really interesting and informative book.I like bees mainly because I love honey and enjoy watching their foraging in my garden,and elsewhere ofcoarse.I didn't really know much else about their short but busy lives.This book is a joy.The author takes you on this journey of an absolute beginner on his quest to produce a jar(within a year) of home produced honey.It's not that easy.It includes looking around the area-within 3 miles radius- his bees are likely to visit such as gardens,crops even pubs on a fly by.The path to the eventual goal is recorded in diary form,almost like talking to a neighbour over a garden fence.It's great fun.
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on 3 July 2012
This book is a delight for anyone interested in bees, self sufficiency, juggling family life, exploring new hobbies, social media or those who just like to peek into someone else's diary!

I've discovered a real identification with James as he explores his first year of beekeeping and recounts that journey of discovery that leads/points to a jar of honey...

With laugh out loud moments and a grounding in everyday life, I recommend this as THE book to read this summer...

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on 19 April 2015
Great for anyone thinking about keeping bees, helps to appreciate the honey we eat and last of all, helps us to understand nature and the importance of us living organic, mindfull lives. Great book and written with a sense of humour.
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on 8 April 2015
Well I seem to be the only person so far who didn't enjoy this book and I wouldn't have persevered with it if hadn't been given to me as a birthday present by my husband. Yes it was easy to read but his over-simplistic style and over-use of 'a little bit' came across as generally not being well written and as if he had given no thought to how to phrase things. The author admits that he made many mistakes and he isn't very organised but his haphazard approach to beekeeping, even if he was a novice, drove me mad. It's not often that I really dislike a book but if I' m being honest this is one of those times.
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on 21 July 2012
`From A to Bee - My First Year as a Beginner Beekeeper' by James Dearsley, The Surrey Beekeeper is a great read for those considering taking up the art of beekeeping. And those who already have!

In his diary James describes the highs and lows, the trials and tribulations and the joys of setting up and managing his two hives. Learning by his mistakes (never shine your torch into the hive entrance at dusk - this led to James bolting and frantically leapfrogging raised beds in order to escape the hotly pursuing guard bees!!) he eventually achieved the bottling of the enthusiastically and long awaited first two jars of delicious golden honey.

As a new beekeeper too, I could relate to everything he has written.
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on 31 July 2012
As someone that is interested in beekeeping this book has been a fantastic introduction to the trials and tribulations of a beekeeper. It's a simple wish as the tart of the book - to have a hive of bees to make 1 jar of honey at the end of the following summer. What follows is a well written, funny and yet very informative book on setting up as a beekeeper. If there"s one thing I'll learn it's to not visit a bee hive with a button fly!

For James I'd love to see a follow on - what did you do next? Where you successful?
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on 26 August 2014
Just wanted a little more information on Bees and beekeeping and l just clicked to read some of the book (l did buy the book wanted to read more!) and l thought the way
James told us about his journey was brilliant . James set out everything that you will face in taking on beekeeping and how to go about it Loved the book excellent read and l got a really good idea of what to expect on keeping Bees. Thank you James
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