At last, a book which details each of the 275 British and
Irish bee species!
Steven Falk is an entomologist, invertebrate specialist and wildlife
artist. He is also the author of British
Hoverflies, and Warwickshire’s
Wildflowers. He worked as an entomologist with
the Nature Conservancy Council, as Keeper of Natural History and then City
Ecologist at Coventry Museum, and spent 11 years as Senior Keeper of Natural
History at Warwickshire Museum. He worked for Buglife - the Invertebrate
Conservation Trust as their Entomologist and Invertebrate Specialist from 2012
In 2012 Steven was awarded the prestigious Royal Entomological Society/Marsh Award for Insect Conservation.
Richard Lewington is a celebrated wildlife artist, and you can admire some of his beautiful bee-themed art which previously featured on British postage stamps.
The book provides all the general background you would expect from a book of this type, including habitat, classification, life cycle and conservation. There is also a very useful ‘at a glance’ guide to bee genera and genus very early in the book, and a very useful glossary and key. We then get into the detail:
- The identification part is split into sections - as you’d expect, by genera. Within each section, there is a general description of each genus, an illustration by Lewington, and images of associated species and parasites. Each species is then described in detail, with photographs, habitat, flight season etc.
- As well as the scientific name for each species, Falk also provides the common name! I especially appreciate this: having given a number of talks about bees, I know it is far more memorable and – yes, even amusing, to talk about the Hairy Footed Flower Bee rather than Anthophora plumipes, for example. Where many people have grown up thinking about bees in terms of stings, who can fail to be won over by the mere thought of the Pantaloon Bee, the Patchwork Leafcutter Bee (or Wood-carving Leafcutter, for that matter)?
- The book also features 20 superb colour plates.
For me, a major strength of this brilliant book is that at last, we have a truly comprehensive guide which includes all the solitary species. Readers will soon find there is so much to learn about these important pollinators – to be fair, they receive little attention, and may even be wrongly mistaken for flies (or even wasps). It’s only by first acknowledging, then learning about the different solitary species, that we can take positive action to help them where we can, by providing habitat and foraging opportunities where possible, and lobbying to protect sites of specific importance. For this to be the case, awareness needs to spread more widely.
This book was originally on my Christmas list – I wanted the hard back version, but having taken yet more photographs this year, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer, and so I treated myself (to the paperback version). I’m glad I did!
So would I recommend this book? Definitely!
Guide to the Bees of Great Britain and Ireland is available from
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