What you never knew about bumblebees, from a man who is both passionate and knowledgeable.
Bumblebee Conservation Trust founder Goulson (Biological and Environmental Sciences/Univ. of Stirling) has been fascinated with nature since his childhood. His tales of collecting insects, raising frogs and snakes, dissecting roadkill and even teaching himself taxidermy as a child serve as a light, engaging introduction to this often humorous but deadly serious account. During his lifetime, wild bumblebees have been disappearing at an alarming rate, and Goulson makes clear why this has happened and why we should care about it. He examines their mating behaviors, life cycle, genetics, nesting habits (unlike honeybees, they don’t build hives), foraging techniques (smelly footprints help them tell which flowers have been recently drained of nectar), navigation skills and their many enemies. The extreme measures he and his research assistants take to study bumblebees will astonish—attaching antennas to bees is a tricky business, and collecting their feces is even more difficult. Even finding bees can be a challenge, as the author relates in stories about attempts to restore Great Britain’s short-haired bumblebee population by capturing queen bees in New Zealand, to which the species had been exported in the 19th century. The success of another project—releasing bees imported from Sweden into an area around Dungeness—remains to be determined. Goulson also relates his adventures turning a dilapidated French farm into a thriving bumblebee reserve. Educating the public about bumblebees and encouraging creation of habitats beneficial to them are two of the goals of the BBCT, and they are surely the impetus behind Goulson’s impressive debut.
A delightful book by an author filled with enthusiasm for the natural world and in possession of just the right touch for sharing it with others.