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57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timely and entertaining book with a serious message
This is a book about bumblebees, their ecology and behaviour, and why populations of many species have declined. It's also a book about what it's like being a research ecologist and a plea for conservation action.

The book starts with the author's childhood and describes the start of his fascination with, not just bumblebees, but wildlife in general. In this...
Published 14 months ago by k.j.park@stir.ac.uk

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars nice text but where are the pictures?
This is an enjoyable,instructive and easy read about bumblebees written by an expert, but at a level that requires no prior biological knowledge. However, how a biologist can write a whole book about bees where the only pictures are on the dust jacket is entirely beyond me: every chapter cries out for pictures of nests, bees, amber, experiments etc. Worse (for the...
Published 3 months ago by Jonathan Bard


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57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timely and entertaining book with a serious message, 4 May 2013
This review is from: A Sting in the Tale (Hardcover)
This is a book about bumblebees, their ecology and behaviour, and why populations of many species have declined. It's also a book about what it's like being a research ecologist and a plea for conservation action.

The book starts with the author's childhood and describes the start of his fascination with, not just bumblebees, but wildlife in general. In this respect it has echoes of Gerald's Durrell's classic "My family and other animals" and is similarly entertaining as well as educational. The following chapters are each self contained stories focussing on a particular aspect of bumblebee ecology that the author has researched, but with a good dollop of the history behind natural history. One chapter looks at how bees know whether a flower has been visited recently (it turns out they have smelly feet!), another at trying to train the world's first bumblebee sniffer dog to find nests. The author also travels to New Zealand to find bumblebees introduced there from the UK over 100 years ago, and to Tasmania where they have appeared more recently.

The thing I liked most about this book is that it gives you an insight into how science progresses, not just what was found. There are amusing tales of the people behind discoveries, serendipitous events that led to them, how things often don't go to plan but may lead to answers the researcher had not originally thought of.

This is not just a book about bumblebees, however, but also a call to action as it highlights some of the disastrous consequences of human actions on nature and what we stand to lose if we do nothing about this. Given the current focus on the plight of pollinators in the countryside, this book is very timely and should appeal to anyone interested in the natural world. It should be required reading for anyone who isn't.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical, 8 May 2013
This review is from: A Sting in the Tale (Hardcover)
SITT is brilliant. I love the conversational way it's written, with real passion and imagination, full of amusing, quirky and creative analogies and anecdotes, such as describing a bumblebee nest as an idyllic nunnery, the larvae as cuddly polar bears, keeping a visceral display in ones bedroom, a species gone extinct thanks to Hitler, a tryst with a long dead male, and fashioning prosthetic legs for a accidental-leg-free feathered pet, to mention but a few.

It is delightfully hilarious, while at the same time delivering a bloom of fascinating and remarkable bumblebee (and other) biology, with an all important conservation message. I think it's just the right balance between the wider conservation/save the world message and the central theme, passion for the bumblebee. I really like the blend of personal experience with science and history. Each time the author digs a bit deeper into the science he soon delivers an anecdote that keeps it alive. It also gives a real insight into how scientists and the like reach conservation decisions.

It is beautifully linked together with (other than bumblebee) themes throughout (the author's appetite for pies for example). The structure keeps you interested - a cliffhanger starting chapter with an uplifting finish and the promise of an explanation. I love how the author drifts off while explaining something. It feels like it takes a while to get to the point, in a good way. I often got drawn into some unrelated (and yet related) anecdote and I forgot all about the bees, until inevitably they creep back in. I'm sad not to be able to read more - but can't believe the author will stop there (tell us more about the distinctive French buzz and goggle-eyed creatures!).
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a fantastic book, 25 May 2013
By 
Mr. R. Condy-young (Devon, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Sting in the Tale (Kindle Edition)
I bought this book after hearing it on Radio 4's Book of the Week. What a fantastic book, laugh out loud funny at times and engaging and captivating throughout. I thoroughly recommend it and as in my case having no prior knowledge or special interest in bees should not put you off.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this is no sting, 17 May 2013
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This review is from: A Sting in the Tale (Hardcover)
A book about bumble bees sounds esoteric but the quality of prose and the author's enthusiasm make this an excellent read . it certainly makes the importance of bees to us well known but it is the organisation of the bees which is astonishing . This is a wonderful read
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful and thought provoking book, 24 May 2013
By 
Jessie G. Knowles "jess16466" (Hampshire , uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Sting in the Tale (Kindle Edition)
Always been a big fan of bumblebees but hadn't realised how vital they are to agriculture. Written in an accessible style this book serves to make us sit up and take notice of the plight of the bee and what can be done to ensure they remain part of our ecosystem. Fascinating and amusing
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEES!!!, 21 Aug 2013
This review is from: A Sting in the Tale (Kindle Edition)
I first bought this book for my son. He is keen on natural history and this was a perfect book that he really enjoyed. It kindled a passionate love for bumblebees and now wants to start a hive. This book is well worth the money.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars nice text but where are the pictures?, 9 April 2014
By 
Jonathan Bard (oxford UK) - See all my reviews
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This is an enjoyable,instructive and easy read about bumblebees written by an expert, but at a level that requires no prior biological knowledge. However, how a biologist can write a whole book about bees where the only pictures are on the dust jacket is entirely beyond me: every chapter cries out for pictures of nests, bees, amber, experiments etc. Worse (for the serious biologist), there is no way of linking the bumblebees listed on P 245 to the pictures on the dust jacket.

JB (also a biologist!)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 3 Jun 2013
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This review is from: A Sting in the Tale (Kindle Edition)
If you are interested in wildlife in general or insects then this book is for you, it gives an insight into the natural history and science of bumblebees in a very readable way by a leading academic. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing read, 24 Oct 2013
This review is from: A Sting in the Tale (Hardcover)
As a butterfly enthusiast I was surprised to find this as a birthday present! I am pleased to report that it is a beautifully written book; the passion the author has for his subject is evident. I particularly enjoyed the sprinkling of facts and brief vignettes that added to the detail without distracting from the narrative. I fear I shall take even longer to go for a walk next summer!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bee's Knees, 22 Oct 2013
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This review is from: A Sting in the Tale (Hardcover)
Charmingly written & very informative. Have given my copy to my sister, so I hope that she enjoys it as much as I did.
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