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Bees of the World Paperback – April, 1999

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Christopher O'Toole has curatorial responsibility for bees and wasps at the world famous Hope Entomological Collections of the University Museum in Oxford. As well as being a world authority on bees, he is a frequent broadcaster and has written extensively on the topic. Anthony Raw is a professor in the Department of Ecology of the University of Brasilia, where he is studying bee behavior in their tropical habitats. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Of the World
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Blandford Pr (April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713724722
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713724721
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,722,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The world is a beehive, and I just stepped right into it!

Most people assume that there is only one kind of bee: the honeybee (with the killer bee as an unfortunate spin-off). I certainly thought so, until I read this book. Actually, there are about 25,000 different species of bees! You heard me. Not twenty-five, but twenty-five THOUSAND. How's that for a mindjob?

Apart from "our" Western honeybee, there are mining bees, mason bees, carpenter bees, leaf-cutter bees, even sweat bees. And, of course, bumblebees! I always thought that bumblebees weren't really bees, but belonged to a different category altogether, rather like hornets or ants. That's certainly how the common man in Sweden sees the situation. Every non-biologist or school teacher talk about bees, hornets and bumblebees as if they were three different things. In reality, bumblebees are very closely related to honeybees. The British authors of "Bees of the World" even say that bumblebees are more "bee-like" than honeybees. I suppose this is why British bee books sometimes put a bumblebee on their front cover - it's considered archetypically, Platonically bee-ish by the general public. Nobody in Sweden would agree. An interesting cultural difference!

I was even more surprised to learn that many of the solitary bees (mason bees, etc) can be found right here, in Europe. I must have encountered them many times over, but never noticed, simply assuming that they were odd-looking honeybees. Finally, "Bees of the World" solved another mystery from my childhood: Who makes circular holes in the leaves of rose bushes? We knew that a nasty neighbour sometimes stole the flowers, but this... It's the bees, stupid!

"Bees of the World" is a real nerd book, written by two enthusiasts for other enthusiasts.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a truely excellent book, especially for entomologists who should have an interest in bees. The only problem I have is that the picture on the cover is actually of a fly.
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Format: Paperback
I hope this -- now labelled "young adult" -- version hasn't been watered down from the 1999 edition. I read mine again every year or so -- it's that interesting and that deeply detailed, and the pictures are wonderful. The adaptations of bees to their environments -- or perhaps the ability of bees to construct their larvae's environments by drilling, cutting, and complex building techniques-- were a revelation to me 10 years ago and still are.

It's a sad commentary on the publisher that, as an eagle-eyed reviewer detected, the cover picture certainly does seem to feature a fly -- a bee-imitating fly but a fly nonetheless. Perhaps this is why clicking on the cover to "look inside" (and try to get a better look at the cover insect) brings up the wonderful picture from the older edition rather than that from the new -- a cluster of bees (a 'lek') putting themselves to be on the disk of a sunflower. Just one of the fascinating aspects of bee behaviour the book tells about.

A great companion to Gary Nabhan and Stephen Buchmann's "Forgotten Pollinators" and a must pair for plant lovers who ask "what's happening" while watching wild and garden plants.
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Format: Hardcover
I like this book a fair amount. It's an overview of the bees of the world, with good no nonsense information about miners, masons, carpenters, and so on as well as the more social bees. I especially loved their effective use of diagrams for the shapes of various bees' nests.
The thing I didn't like was their intrusive and oftentimes nonsensical (and certainly slavish) adherence to the nonsensical notion that the natural world is based on strict competition. They bend over backwards to try to show that the activities of all bees are based on competition, and they strain to use crazy metaphors to support this view. Instead of perceiving bees and flowers as a wonderful example of the way that different members of natural communities work together for the benefit of the larger community, they actually resort to citing Adam Smith and The Wealth of Nations as bee/plant interactions being a form of selfish capitalism!!![.] It's nonsense.
One other problem, and this is one reason I hate science. I'll just give a quote. Speaking of a bee being driven to extinction by logging, they say, "Recent reports of forestry activities on Bacan give rise to concern that the bee might become extinct before yielding up the secrets of its biology." If the authors weren't "free market scientists" they would be ashamed of this statement. It implies: Who cares if the creature goes extinct for its own sake? We just need to mine the knowledge before it does.
Once again, all this said, the book does provide some good information.
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