Friday, July 13, 2012

Beekeeping Podcasts

Podcasts are audio files which can be downloaded onto phones, laptops and audio devices like music files. There are thousands to choose from and cover hundreds and hundreds of different subjects - even beekeeping. They are cheap to produce and anyone can produce them, which leads to a variety of quality and reliability. So this is a guide to the genre for those who want to try the best of what is available. The vast majority are based in America, but still can include masses of good information for any beekeepers even if they are outside of America.

Podcasts are wonderful to listen to when you are busy in the garden, workshop or apiary; you can absorb a whole host of (usually) free information and not have to dedicate time to having to read it on the internet or in a book. 

I have been trying out a number of beekeeping podcasts as there seemed to be many out there. There is quite a mix and most of them are from beekeepers in the USA. Some are traditional, some advocate organic or 'natural' beekeeping, some are pretty political, but most are just beekeepers trying to share their experiences to help others. This post lists the ones worthy of comment in my opinion and describes each one. All of these are free to download.

There are a number of things I look for before I recommend a podcaster. The content needs to be good quality and relevant, something that actually shares information of use to the listener; many are just ramblings about what their apiaries are doing and it's ok to have a little of that, but it's not enough on it's own. I also look for a podcaster that has regularity and reliability, in other words someone that did not try podcasting for a few episodes and then got bored with the idea. Finally I look for good quality production and sound. The first four here I highly recommend you start with.

The Barefoot Beekeeper - Phil Chandler has presented the only British podcasting beekeeper since 2010. Phil is a top bar hive enthusiast and promotes strongly the natural beekeeping methods. He is also a campaigner for beekeeping. Even if you don't agree with what he thinks, this is a high quality podcast covering some very interesting subjects like propolis. Phil does a lot of teaching and has a determined style, he covers difficult and politically sensitive subjects and the podcast is certainly worth listening to in its entirety. Phil Chandler presents the philosophy, practices and politics that are well documented in his website. It is still current and it's worth a listen if only to understand what he feels is 'Natural Beekeeping' using top bar hives. I find these (usually 45 minute) podcasts really interesting, but his strong views against other forms of beekeeping might offend some of the traditional beekeepers out there. Recommend you give it a try though, at least the first couple of episodes.

Pragmatic Beekeeping with the SOMD Beekeeper - Craig Yerdon presents a very good podcast which has been running since 2009 and is still producing episodes. Craig is a 'natural' beekeeper who likes to avoid using chemicals on his bees. He has interviewed a number of prominent US beekeepers, like Michael Bush, on very interesting subjects and this podcast is very much recommended. He has a friendly, positive nature, but inquiring and determined, which makes for an entertaining and enjoyable podcast. He attempts to keep his bees as organically as possible and discusses the practicality of this at length in a few interviews too. There is a surprisingly good production quality on these home-made podcasts. Typically about an hour long for each episode and highly recommended.

The Beekeeper's Corner Podcast - Kevin Inglin is another US podcaster. Kevin has put a lot of effort into his podcast since he started in April 2010 and 'casts on a regular basis. He talks about many subjects like swarming and pests, mixes up episodes with local hive updates and really makes the podcast feel like a high quality programme. Kevin is also a very funny guy which makes his episodes very enjoyable to listen to as well as hugely informative. Typically an hour long each, Kevin shares his experiences as a 'Backyard Beekeeper'. Although the format is very informal, he is amiable and amusing as he describes his experiences with honesty and in useful detail. Like the other American podcasts, it is the similarities to UK beekeeping rather than the differences that are interesting and make you realise - they are all bees! These are regular folks, fascinated by honey bees and beekeeping and trying to do their bit to learn how to best look after these creatures. Kevin is engaging and fun to listen to for beginners as well as more experienced beekeepers and continues to podcast on a regular basis to date. Check out his website too.

Kiwimana Buzz Podcast - This podcast is presented by a couple from New Zealand who run a beekeeping business. They are regular 'casters and some of their episodes are very informative, although they do get off the subject now and then which can be funny. They have some great guests quite often though and it is very interesting to hear about beekeeping on their side of the planet. Recommended you give these guys a go. As a New Zealand based site with beekeepers from that area giving their advice on beekeeping, their views on beekeeping politics etc. may not always be relevant to you, but it is interesting. It's a great podcast, well recorded and clear to listen to. It is good to hear an alternative to the American podcasts, getting good advice from the other side of the world (from me, anyway!). You can see from their website that they are suppliers of beekeeping kit, but that is not the point of the podcast - it is clearly a national advice podcast, most of which is relevant to all of us. Well worth a try and totally free.

Those are by far the best available and every podcast they have produced is worth listening to. There are others out there too and have individual episodes worth listening too, if not the whole set. Here are some examples.

The Honey Bee Man - Through 2007 this American podcaster released 16 episodes of about 10 minutes each, focusing on very specific beekeeping subjects like protective clothing. Unfortunately he did not continue beyond these 16 episodes, but what is here is worth a listen to, especially for a beginner beekeeper. Mark is a traditional amateur beekeeper with an enthusiastic style. Intermediate beekeepers are likely to benefit from hearing how someone else does things though, and at ten minutes a go, you are not investing much time. 

The Wildlife Pro Network Beekeeping Podcast - Not a punchy title, but this is another American podcast that ran from 2009 to the end of 2011 and then seems to have died away, although their website is still active. Lengthy episodes are spoilt for me by a consistently poor recording quality which, frankly, started to give me a headache - a shame as there is a lot of good quality information in the podcasts which I intend to persevere with over time. Interesting though that there is some more detail about the commercial beekeeping side of our community on this podcast, with interviews that give insight into beekeeping as a profession rather than a hobby. Get some good earphones and give it a go.

Studio Bee Live - Dave and Sheri present this podcast as a couple who run their own beekeeping business. Another American podcast which has been running since 2009, although no podcasts this year yet. Maybe it is a consequence of couples presenting these shows together, but these guys really ramble off the subject and it is more like listening to them having a chat rather than presenting the topic at hand in a economical fashion, but they are easy going and you may well like their style. From Long Lane Honey Farms they have been podcasting now and then about different beekeeping subjects. Each episode is just under an hour and the production quality is very good. You do have to accept that type of informal style they have and they do get around to talking about bees eventually and there is a lot of good information based on their experiences with the usual issues like preparing for Winter and defending against pests. Try out an episode and see if you like their style; if so check out their website too, although I doubt they deliver to the UK!

There are other beekeeping podcasts out there, but most did not last long, some only releasing a handful of episodes before not bothering again, like the Suburban Beekeeper Podcast from 2010 who never really talks about anything other than local hive reports. It is a pity there are not more British beekeepers releasing podcasts of their experiences, as it is a great way to get to beginners and show them it's ok to make mistakes, we all do it, it's ok to ask silly questions, smoke yourself in your own suit, get stung, drop a frame, not find your queen, trip over the hive roof and everything else that makes you think 'maybe this is not for me' - it's a learning experience over a lifetime and worth persevering. Maybe I should give podcasting a go? 


  1. Hi,

    Great post, we have a new beekeeping podcast "The Kiwimana Buzz...". We are from New Zealand. Our podcast is located in itunes here:-



    1. Thanks Gary - I have tried it out and updated my post above! Great podcast and thanks for letting us know about it. Anyone else out there with a beekeeping podcast I have not spotted, let me know!

    2. Thanks Matt, love you review of the show. It would be fantastic if you could add that to itunes :)

      It would help other people find the podcast.

      Do you fancy coming on the show at some point in the future as well?