- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Picador; First Edition edition (April 29, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781250048370
- ISBN-13: 978-1250048370
- ASIN: 1250048370
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 51 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Sting in the Tale: My Adventures with Bumblebees Hardcover – April 29, 2014
"Maybe You Should Talk to Someone" by Lori Gottlieb
"This is a daring, delightful, and transformative book." ―Arianna Huffington, Founder, Huffington Post Learn more
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Although the disturbing recent spread of bee colony collapse disorder has prompted media outlets to take a closer look at these humble, honey-gathering insects, for Goulson, the study of bees has been a lifelong passion. As he recounts in this absorbing and informative hybrid between guidebook and memoir, Goulson fell in love with the buzzing creatures as a young nature buff growing up in rural Shropshire, England. However, one variety of bee, the short-haired bumblebee, which Goulson observed as a boy, is now gone, a fact that spurred him to found the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and lead efforts to bring this particular species back to the UK from New Zealand. In between describing the ordeal that ensued when Goulson and a fellow entomologist traveled to New Zealand to solve the puzzle of shipping bumblebee queens back to England, the author gives readers a solid grounding in bee gestation, anatomy, culture, and the many environmental threats bees are currently facing. An outstanding piece of nature writing that also celebrates one of humankind’s most cherished insects. --Carl Hays
“A Sting in the Tale melts memoir and conservation issues into a sweet pot, moving from subject to subject very much in the manner of a foraging bee seeking flowers….The book is warm and delightful: I frequently found myself wanting to put it down to go bird and bee-watching, to find for myself the species [Goulson] discusses.” ―NPR
“A Sting in the Tale is both a whodunit as well as a revealing study of a bug on whom we depend a great deal.” ―Seattle Times
“[Goulson's] enthusiasm shines through as he tells of his attempt to bring the short-haired bumblebee back to Britain, its native land....Goulson transforms what could be dry material with stinging wit.” ―New York Post
“Goulson's personal touch is stamped throughout...peppered with fascinating observations, a sense of good cheer, and Goulson's undeniable passion for an oft-uncelebrated subject, here presented for appreciation by the casual armchair naturalist.” ―Publishers Weekly
“What you never knew about bumblebees, from a man who is both passionate and knowledgeable....[An] impressive debut....A delightful book by an author filled with enthusiasm for the natural world and in possession of just the right touch for sharing it with others.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Absorbing and informative...An outstanding piece of nature writing that also celebrates one of mankind's most cherished insects.” ―Booklist
“Fascinating and inspiring. Dave Goulson is a genial raconteur, with much to teach us about the biology and conservation of our insect cousins.” ―D. G. Haskell, author of Pulitzer Prize Finalist The Forest Unseen
“Goulson's adventures with bumblebees tells the well-written story of the making of a naturalist, and also enchantingly informs us not only about bees but also about ecosystems and conservation.” ―Bernd Heinrich, Author of Bumblebee Economics and Mind of the Raven
“[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.” ―The Independent (London)
“Goulson combines enthusiasm with academic authority, addressing the amateur beekeeper and professional apiarist in well-judged proportion.” ―The Times (London)
“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.” ―The Guardian (London)
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Dr. Goulson, a scientist and professor who has taught at universities in England and Scotland, continues a century-long British tradition of affection for bumble bees and leadership in research about them. In his first book, the scientific treatise Bumblebees: Behaviour, Ecology, and Conservation, Goulson documents the current worldwide body of research. With A Sting in the Tale, he appeals to non-scientists to understand and appreciate his favorite animal.
Goulson devotes chapters to especially notable bumble bee characteristics. In "The Bumblebee Year" chapter, plant enthusiasts will see parallels between bumble bee colonies and annual plants. Analogous to a seed, a mated queen overwinters alone in loose soil or leaf litter. In the spring, she emerges, finds a nest site, lays a first batch of eggs, and provides pollen and nectar to the larvae, all of which develop into female workers. The workers take over foraging and nest duties, while the queen lays more eggs. When the worker population becomes sufficiently large, the colony produces new queens and males. After a new queen mates with a male, usually from another colony, and builds up fat reserves, she finds a place to overwinter alone, repeating the cycle. The old queen, workers, and males all die. In contrast, analogous to perennial plants, honey bee colonies use their sizable honey stores to sustain their queen and thousands of workers throughout the winter.
In "The Hot-Blooded Bumblebee" chapter, Goulson summarizes the research of American Bernd Heinrich, author of Bumble Bee Economics, into endothermy. A bumble bee's thorax temperature must be at least 86 degrees Fahrenheit for the bumble bee to fly. Bumble bees raise their internal temperature by shivering their flight muscles.
In the "Ketchup and Turkish Immigrants" chapter, we learn that bumble bees can "buzz pollinate", vibrating as they grasp a flower, unleashing a shower of pollen. This ability makes bumble bees exceptionally effective pollinators of nightshades, like tomatoes. Greenhouse growers now employ commercially-reared bumble bee colonies. But shipping colonies spreads disease and introduces species outside of their native ranges. Many researchers believe that commercially-reared colonies transported to the U.S. in the 1990's spread exotic diseases to wild populations, causing dramatic declines in once common U.S. species like the Western Bumble Bee (Bombus occidentalis).
In 2006, Dr. Goulson founded the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in Great Britain to promote preservation and restoration of suitable habitat as well as celebration of this amazing animal. The Xerces Society supports similar goals in the U.S. for all invertebrates.
While British fauna and flora predominate Goulson's account, the biology and substance apply to North America. A Sting in the Tale offers a stirring chance to listen to one of the world's leading authorities candidly describe his life's work and essentials of what we know about this wonderful creature. I heartily recommend it.