Monday, 28 October 2019
A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson
Dave Goulson has been obsessed with wildlife since his childhood dabbling in taxidermy. He is now a well respected academic with research interests in bumblebees and founder member of the charity the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.
This book covers a lot of ground about UK bumblebees but is centred on the author's attempts to bring the short haired bumblebee back to the UK. This bumblebee was once found across the south of England but dwindled until it was only surviving in Kent. It became extinct in the UK in 1988 and the only descendents of those Kent bees are now found in the wilds of New Zealand, where a few queen bees were shipped over in the nineteenth century. The story of the attempted reintroduction of this species into the UK is a catalogue of scientific and practical problems but has had a positive impact on the amount of wildflower meadowland and the populations of a number of scarce bee species in the area (you can read about the project here).
The book also covers a history of the human relationship with bumblebees, the biology and ecology of these fascinating insects and how we can help conserve them. A chapter is devoted to the author's recreation of wildflower meadows on an arable farm in France and another is devoted to bumblebee sniffer dogs, recruited to find bumblebee nests so that they can be studied and conserved.
This is a fascinating book for anyone interested in insect ecology. It is full of interesting scientific facts but written in a very accessible and often humourous style. You may well look more closely at the next bumblebees you see!
A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson published by Johnathan Cape (2013)