GiGi’s Book Review: A Survival Guide to Urban Beekeeping by Cam and Mr. Combover

It’s been awhile since I have had a chance to update and I can say that I am still starry-eyed about our first beekeeping class. But I won’t gush about it now since you can see all of the awesome pictures my sister took here. Instead I’ll be giving a little book review about one of my more recently acquired apiary information books.

photo courtesy

Madam W. and I first stumbled upon Cam and Mr. Combover’s blog,, not too long after creating our own and I have been a follower ever since.  Their writing is to the point with a lot of photos of their process and their videos are both informative and often (although I think unintentionally) hilarious. Not many men would get stung by a bee on camera and then willingly post that video for the entire digital world to see. And, hey, who doesn’t like a blog with a bee pun in its name? I know I sure do… So, I went ahead and got an early release of their book A Survival Guide to Urban Beekeeping.

courtesy of and Suzi Kemp

The first and most striking feature of the book that I noticed was the illustration work. The illustrator, Suzi Kemp’s, hit-it-and-quit-it style is reminiscent of 80’s punk art à la Raymond Pettibon. Just simple heavy line work with pops of color. But I can’t lie that I might be partial to her work since my own style of illustration shares similarities with her style. You can see more of her work here. But I must admit that, although I understand printing in grayscale is more cost effective, I wish the pages of illustration in the book could have been printed in color. I think the lack of color takes away from the aesthetics of Kemp’s work.

The content of the book itself is laid out in five easy to navigate and reader friendly chapters beginning with the basic “Learn About Bees” and ending with the final “Harvesting Your Honey” chapter. The writing is very straightforward and easy to understand, breaking each chapter down into simple steps. I personally enjoy that, every so often, you get little tidbits like “Did You Know” facts on the bottom of certain pages and meta-chapters like “Facts You Didn’t Know About Bees,” “The Fashion of Beekeeping,” and “Why Beekeepers Don’t Eat Bananas,” each little aside with it’s own quirky illustration. If you’ve ever read other books about beekeeping you will understand that it can get rather tedious to read all of the bee information endlessly, so I like that these humorous little side chapters pop up to break up the uniformity. And I really liked reading about their personal trials and tribulations that they experienced while beekeeping, such as the fact that no one explains to you that after you steal the honey from the bees they will be furious and sting you, which gives the book a much more accessible blog-style appeal. Also, considering a previous post of my own, I truly appreciated the aside chapter they wrote “Thoughts About Colony Collapse Disorder.” As stated before, it’s a very real and serious occurrence and something everyone should know is happening.

courtesy of and Suzi Kemp

This is definitely one of the more entertaining beekeeping books I have had the pleasure of reading recently (and I have read quite a few as of late, more book reviews in the future mayhaps?). Although, as the title states, A Survival Guide to Urban Beekeeping is just that- a survival guide. It’s something short and basic that you can turn to in a pinch or if you would like to explore apiculture but not get into the thoroughgoing details. I wouldn’t call it the end-all-be-all of beekeeping books, and even the writers themselves mention several times how they took beekeeping classes and studied about apiaries beforehand. So, I would say this is an easy starting point for the novice beekeeper, such as myself, but I would recommend not bypassing classes or further reading if you want to seriously consider being an apiarist. Besides, I’ve never heard anyone say that knowing too much about something that could very well kill you is a bad thing.

You can purchase your very own amazing copy of A Survival Guide to Urban Beekeeping by Cam and Mr. Combover HERE.

Looking forward to my next beekeeping class tomorrow! Check back soon!

Best wishes,



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