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) 


David said...

The short-haired reintroduction project has apparently failed in its primary objective, but has succeeded in boosting numbers of scarce species that were already in the project area.
Goulson's two follow-up bumblebee books are excellent reads. If you want a book to help you to identify bees, I think that Steven Falk's field guide is easily the best.

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

I love bumbles!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I didn’t know there was an actual species called ‘bumblebee’... I just always thought it was a child’s word for honeybee or pretty much anything that buzzed and might sting . Obviously I need to read something geared for ten-year olds as I must have missed some important lessons in school.

RG said...

If you like food, love your bees!!!!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Thanks David, yes it did apparently fail in that sense (I didn't include that in the review as i felt it might put people off reading.). I have other books by Goulson and will look out the others too, he's an excellent writer

Simon - so do I!

Sallie - there are lots of different species of bumble bees! It does sound like a children's nickname for bees though your're right on that

Rabbits Guy - very true