Friday, September 5, 2014

The Bee: A Natural History by Noah Wilson-Rich: A review

The Bee: A Natural HistoryThe Bee: A Natural History by Noah Wilson-Rich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The argument could be and has been made that bees are essential to life on Earth as we know it. They are most certainly crucial to the reproduction and diversity of flowering plants.

The creatures are known to pollinate more than 130 fruit, vegetable, and seed crops that we rely on to survive and those plants make economic contributions in the tens of billions of dollars every year. Therefore, it is very important on many levels that we have a healthy population of bees.

But bees are in trouble. They are dying off at an alarming rate, and although in some cases the cause of the die-off has not been absolutely pinned down, scientists are pretty much in agreement that pesticides and the practices of modern agriculture are the main culprits.

In The Bee: A Natural History, Noah Wilson-Rich explores some of the challenges faced by bees and how we can ameliorate them in order to aid the bees. This book primarily focuses on honeybees, but it also has sections on solitary bees, bumblebees, and stingless bees, which takes in the various kinds of native bees that exist in this country.

Earth is, in fact, the home to more than 20,000 bee species of an astounding diversity, but all have some essentials in common. Wilson-Rich discusses their evolution and development, their anatomy and biology, and their society and behavior.

An entire chapter is given over to the discussion of bees and humans. A second chapter explores beekeeping from the basics to hive design and harvesting the honey, and it includes information about problems which might occur and pests which can invade the hives.

This book is written in an engaging and easily accessible style and it is illustrated throughout with pictures and drawings which enliven the text. For the person interested in beekeeping, it gives the basics of organic and integrated pest management techniques. Overall, it gives its readers insights into a holistic approach to bee health and to ensuring that a vibrant population of the little creatures is able to survive on the planet. It is a very practical handbook for anyone looking for ways to help the bees.

(A copy of this book was provided to me without charge by the publisher in return for an honest review. No other remuneration was provided. The opinions expressed here are my own.)


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