- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (24 April 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099575124
- ISBN-13: 978-0099575122
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 243 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A Sting in the Tale Paperback – 24 Apr 2014
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"[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)
"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)
"A worthy book of the year." (Mary Beard Observer)
"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)
"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’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."
"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."
"A worthy book of the year."
"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."
"This isn’t one of those natural science books that simply tells you things – it admits how much we don’t know."
One man’s quest to save the bumblebee…See all Product description
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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.
Dave Goulson is passionate about bumblebees and wildlife in general. He conveys this in his writing, which to me is reminiscent of Gerald Durrell and Bill Bryson. He makes it personal by taking us through his developing childhood interest, through his academic studies to his project in rural France. He talks affectionately about people he's worked with, describing their quirks alongside their passion and tenacity.
His insights into the way science works is fascinating, both for scientists and others. His writing is widely accessible, unlike other "popular science" writing which is often unsatisfactory to either the lay person or to fellow scientists.
Don't expect to come to the end with an ability to recognise any species of bumblebee. He directs us to other resources for that. However some photos would have been good, not just of the bees but of the characters and landscapes he describes. What you can expect to come away with it a greater understanding of the importance of bumblebees and a desire to read "A Buzz in the Meadow".
I do not think it an exaggeration to say that Professor Dave Goulson probably knows more about bumblebees than any other living person, but he writes with an engaging blend of humility, candour and humour. Other reviewers have done an excellent job of precising the book contents which I will not repeat here. I enjoyed every page but I was eager to get to the final chapters where Goulson talks about founding the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and initiating the project to reintroduce the Short-Haired bumblebee to England.
On this last aspect, it is deeply irritating that the publisher's dust-jacket editor could not be bothered to read the book thoroughly enough to comprehend that these Short-Haired bumblebees are actually being sourced from Sweden and not New Zealand. The latter, sadly, turned out to be an ecological dead-end. The myth that New Zealand is these bees' last remaining habitat is perpetuated by Amazon and other online suppliers in their descriptions of the book and it nearly deterred me from buying as I knew it was blatantly untrue.
Notwithstanding this gross error however, the book should appeal to anybody who wishes to learn more about bumblebees in an entertaining and well-rounded account.
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