A sting in the tale


A sting in the tale – Dave Goulson (pub Jonathan Cape) Book Review

Fantastic – 288 hardback pages all about bumblebees!  Dave Goulson is a life long fan of all things Bombus,being the driving force behind attempts to reintroduce the short-haired bumblebee Bombus subterraneus to Kent as well as the founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (www.bumblebeeconservation.org).

Bumblebees are now the pollinators of choice for crops such as tomatoes, raspberries, cucumbers, aubergines and peppers and so are being reared on an industrial scale to provide nests-on-demand.  Which is strange, given that the biggest threat to the 250 extant species over the last 50 years has probably been industrialised agriculture and its indiscriminate use of pesticides.  And although increased awareness of the importance of beneficial insects might seem like a good thing, there’s a cloud to the silver lining: commercial breeding of pollinators risks upsetting natural balances even further through the introduction of foreign species out-competing native bees, hybridising with them and spreading diseases among populations.

But this book is generally an uplifting read, written by someone who clearly loves his bumblebees.  It’s a serious work, full of solid facts, figures and hard science, but flavoured with amusing and thought-provoking anecdotes and some deep insights into bumblebee culture.