Barwon Booksellers - Secondhand and Collectibles


  • Cross Pollination: The Beans & The Bees

    4 November 2011 -

    Second hand bookselling in the BB style, that is, with a democratic bias, is by its nature an eclectic zone, a world where odd juxtapositions are embraced as old friends, where earnest edifications sit calmly beside unadulterated pleasures, where the wistfulness of pre-loved things shares an easy bed with the frissons of the contemporary cultural edge.

    It is also a realm where official documents of war team up with more peaceful pursuits, as in this week’s newsletter, where we briefly visit the rare and complete set of CEW Bean’s Official History of Australia in The First World War only to follow it up withour currently lovely cache of books on bees and beekeeping.

    Occasionally a special, or especially collectible book, or set of books, can sit on our shelves for longer than we expect. Such is the case with the rare, and increasingly valuable, twelve volume set of CEW Bean’s Official History Of Australia In The War Of 1914-18. This complete hardback edition was published by Angus & Robertson in 1937, and includes the often missing Vol XII, which contains the absolutely fascinating Photographic Record Of The War. The editor, Charles Bean, was of course the official government correspondent but was also instrumental in the establishment of the Australian War Memorial, which today has an ever growing presence online, through the agency of its impressive and well-resourced website.

    Over the 20 years of the life of Barwon Booksellers we have only had the complete Bean on four or five occasions, and of course in varying condition. Each of the volumes contains roughly 600 pages of scrupulous material on all phases of the Australian war, and the edition currently in our possession is in good condition.  $1450

    Now, for a little cross pollination, from the Beans to Bees. The Geelong and southwest area, and Southern Victoria in general, is blessed with extensive clover areas where our multiple bee populations can thrive. Although these bee-realms suffered in the long parch of the recent drought, they are now back into lush times and the intrinsic, and intrinsically interesting, process of local food and flower pollination is in full swing.

    We have a few amateur apiarists as customers here at Barwon Booksellers and so are always on the scout, on our book-propelled wanderings, for bee-related books and pamphlets. Here’s a few that we have instore at the moment.

    First up, Australasian Queen-Rearing. Given that we missed the golden opportunity of presenting our 1921 copy of this perenially useful pamphlet by W.S.Pender to Her Majesty on her recent visit, we still have it in stock at $35.  The author, William Stanley Pender, was the founder, in 1899, of the still thriving Australian Beekeeper journal. As such he could be considered the godfather of apicultural literature in Australia, as well as being, with his brother George, an ingenious designer and manufacturer of locally customised beekeeping equipment from their base in Maitland, NSW.  This pamphlet is informed by Pender’s passionate belief in the importance of queen rearing for the maintenance of good hives and remains of practical use to the apiarist, as well as being of great historical curiousity.

     We also have another pamphlet published by the indefigatible Pender Bros in 1942: ‘Australian Made Honey Extractors - Directions for their Care and Attention and the Ordering of Extractor Parts’. $15

    The ABC Of Bee Culture: A Cyclopedia of Every Thing Pertaining to the Care of the Honey Bee by A.I. Root  (Medina, Ohio: The A.I. Root Company 1903)

    First published in1877 but remaining in print to this day, ‘The ABC of Bee Culture’ is, as its subtitle states, a thoroughly extensive encyclopedia of everything bee-related. The author, A.I. Root, and his Root Beekeeping Company was surely an American prototype for the Australian Pender Bros, given that the Roots, like the Penders, started as manufacturers of bee equipment before going on to purchase printing presses in order to branch out into publishing their own journal, ‘Bee Culture’.  Amos Root was an enterprising and inquisitive man, who, in keeping with our theme of juxtapositions, began his career as a jewellery manufacturer before catching the bee buzz, so to speak. After groundbreaking work in the field of apiculture over many decades, his Root Company eventually changed direction in the 1930s in favour of candle production, when a local Ohio priest made an innocent enough enquiry of them in regard to the availability of high quality liturgical candles.

    Furnished with many engravings and illustrations this 1903 hardback edition of Root’s 'ABC Of Bee Culture' comes in debossed black boards with a gold leaf bee on the front. A real treasure - $50

    A World Without Bees: The Mysterious Decline Of The Honeybee – And What It Means For Us by Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum (Guardian Books 2009)

    As the back of this book reminds us: ‘a third of all that we eat, and much of what we wear, relies on pollination of honey bees’.  This recent paperback contains a salutary account of the threat to bee habitat and survival in the context of the current global environmental crisis. - $10

    Beekeeping: A Seasonal Guide by Ron Brown (Batsford 2011)

    This new edition of the classic work by Ron Brown is a pleasingly designed update, with extensive but simple instructions for the passionate apiarist. It is also beautifully written and delights in the language of bee rearing, giving full rein to the particular poetry of sealed broods and lazy drones, sitting hives, honey flows and shook swarms.  The chapters are divided by the seasons, there are many hand drawn illustrations, and also diagrams demonstrating aspects of hive maintenance and construction. Once again there is a useful bibliography and also an index of bee-related organizations, and advisory services. Also a curious section on Bees and the Law. - $18

    A Living From Bees by Frank. C. Pellett (Orange Judd New York1951) Frank Pellet was the long serving Field Editor of the American Bee Journal and ‘A Living From Bees’ is his illustrated account of his life with bees. A handsome 1950s American hardback - $20

     The Complete Handbook Of Bee-Keeping by Herbert Mace (Ward Lock 1976) A thoroughly practical manual for the beekeeper covering hive construction, the getting and keeping of bees, anatomy and physiology, pests and diseases, and also a section on the literature of Beekeeping - $20

    Guide To Bees and Honey by Ted Hooper (BlandfordPress 1976)

    This is a standard text recommended by the British Beekeepers Association, which focuses on the raising and maintenance of bees for the amateur apiarist.  Hooper was an distinguished British apiarist who also co-authored ‘The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Beekeeping’. This hardback edition in great condition comes with a handy bibliography of related sources, a useful index and many informative photographs - $20