The case for the humble bee

Bumblebees Behaviour and Ecology by Dave Goulson
(Oxford University Press 27.50)

Now it is computers, but when I was young many of us thought that we were experts on bees (writes P Cormacain).

We used to acquire bee nests, bring them home, queen, eggs, workers and drones, and set them up in a new home in our garden. We never thought we were doing any harm, as we never lost a bee, but I am sure we would be faulted by somebody or other now.

We only superficially studied the bees. Now along comes Dave Goulson. He has done major research on bees, and he imparts this knowledge to us through his new book. So all that you never knew about bees is revealed for you.

Dave itemises the life cycle of bees, describes food, behaviour and habitat. He draws on available research to point out the declining numbers of bees, and cites the reasons for this. He demonstrates the strong possibility that three types of bee may have become extinct in Britain in the last century and a half.

'The author is more factual than crusading, and points out the many types of insects that are essential for the pollinating of plants, and thus essential for plants.

Butterflies do some work in this department, but if a butterfly is becoming rare, people are aware of it, and people are concerned about it. Similarly, if a bird becomes endangered, ordinary folk, organisations, even the state will work to address the problem.

Because of the pollination of crops, and the survival of wildflowers, bees are a very important aspect of our existence. More research is needed. More must be done to encourage and help these wonderful flying creatures. I wonder if he ever took bee nests home with him when he was a kid?

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