Thursday, October 25, 2012


Bumblebees have undeniable appeal. They look like tiny flying teddy bears, and their ability to take off is aeronautically implausible. This popularity has stimulated the formation of an energetic Bumblebee Conservation Trust. It has also encouraged a number of excellent publications.

Twenty years ago the first edition of Bumblebees was published. One of a series of ecology and identification handbooks for naturalists, it has been substantially revised for this latest, third edition. It is much more than an identification guide, dealing extensively with the natural history of bumblebees.  This is based around the original research of one of the authors, and the final chapter contains useful information to help anyone interested in doing their own research to get started.

Several questions buzzed around my brain as I read this splendid handbook. I remembered that Alan Morley had written about unseasonal winter activity from buff-tailed bumblebee queens in Natur Cymru edition 10. It turns out that this species is regularly found starting a winter nesting cycle. A couple of bumblebee species that I see fairly regularly are not included as recent records on the map for my County, but the text makes clear that some areas are not well recorded, and the onus is on me to pass my records on!

As well as maps at the end of the book showing the distribution of species, there are many line drawings and superb plates contributed by Tony Hopkins. They add detail and delight to a wonderfully informative text about a fascinating group of insects.

James Robertson
Editor of Natur Cymru
This review was first published in the summer edition of Natur Cymru, June 2012  

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