Author(s): Dave Goulson
One man's quest to save the bumblebee.
Dave Goulson has always been obsessed with wildlife, from his childhood menagerie of exotic pets and dabbling in experimental taxidermy to his groundbreaking research into the mysterious ways of the bumblebee and his mission to protect our rarest bees.
Once commonly found in the marshes of Kent, the short-haired bumblebee now only exists in the wilds of New Zealand, the descendants of a few queen bees shipped over in the nineteenth century. Dave Goulson's passionate drive to reintroduce it to its native land is one of the highlights of a book that includes exclusive research into these curious creatures, history's relationship with the bumblebee and advice on how to protect it for all time.
One of the UK's most respected conservationists and the founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Goulson combines Gerald Durrell-esque tales of a child's growing passion for nature with a deep insight into the crucial importance of the bumblebee. He details the minutiae of life in their nests, sharing fascinating research into the effects intensive farming has had on our bee populations and on the potential dangers if we are to continue down this path.
I was particularly impressed with A Sting in the Tale, both for its readability and originality. A book on bumblebees would only excite a small crowd, myself perhaps included, but it should really attract a larger audience with the increasing relevance of bee conservation in ecological stability and global food production. This, however, could make for a limited topic if explored alone. Goulson avoids this by creating a work with fascinating interludes into his own passions for bumblebee studies and the latest research into their lives. It’s not every day that you’ll get to learn about the curiously smelly feet of bees and the remarkable relevance to their survival. This is a must-read for anyone interested in wildlife or the natural world, especially with Goulson’s studies of New Zealand habitats and bees featuring prominently throughout.
This would have to be one of the most enjoyable non-fiction books that I have read for a long while. I believe that bumblebees are probably the least known of the 'friendly' insects in our environment and this book goes a long way towards rectifying that. You learn many fascinating and interesting things about these wonderful insects, including their similarities to WW1 Fighter pilots, why there aren't any in Australia, how they came to NZ (along with a few hedgehogs!) and how they go from being 'bumbles' to competent collectors of nectar and pollen. This book is written with a delightful wit, and Dave Goulson has a wonderful self-deprecating style of writing. An absolutely absorbing and interesting book. - Peter
One man's quest to save the bumblebee.
Shortlisted for Samuel Johnson Prize 2013.
"[Goulson's] book is not only enormously informative, but also hugely entertaining: its light touch and constant humour make cutting-edge research a pleasure to read about. For anyone interested in the natural world, this is essential reading." -- Michael McCarthy Independent "This isn't one of those natural science books that simply tells you things - it admits how much we don't know." -- Mark Mason Spectator "Goulson reminds himself that he 'began studying bumblebees not because they are important pollinators but because they are fascinating, because they behave in interesting and mysterious ways, and because they are rather loveable.' It's worth reading A Sting in the Tale for the same reasons." -- Hannah Rosefield Literary Review "Goulson has plenty of wondrous biological stories to tell, as well as the tale of his own struggle to return the short-haired bumblebee to Britain." -- Patrick Barkham Guardian "Goulson combines enthusiasm with academic authority, addressing the amateur beekeeper and professional apiarist in well-judged proportion." -- Iain Finlayson The Times
Dave Goulson studied biology at Oxford University and is now Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Sussex. He has published over 190 scientific articles on bees, butterflies and other insects. He founded the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in 2006, whose groundbreaking conservation work won the Heritage Lottery Award for best Environmental Project. He was made 'Social Innovator of the Year' by the Biology and Biotechnology Research Council in 2010.