256 pages, no illustrations
Dave Goulson has always been obsessed with wildlife, from his childhood menagerie of exotic pets and dabbling in experimental taxidermy to his ground-breaking research into the mysterious ways of the bumblebee and his mission to protect our rarest bees.
Once commonly found in the marshes of Kent, the short-haired bumblebee now only exists in the wilds of New Zealand, the descendants of a few queen bees shipped over in the nineteenth century. Dave Goulson's passionate drive to reintroduce it to its native land is one of the highlights of a book that includes exclusive research into these curious creatures, history's relationship with the bumblebee and advice on how to protect it for all time.
One of the UK's most respected conservationists and the founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Goulson combines Gerald Durrell-esque tales of a child's growing passion for nature with a deep insight into the crucial importance of the bumblebee. He details the minutiae of life in their nests, sharing fascinating research into the effects intensive farming has had on our bee populations and on the potential dangers if we are to continue down this path.
"[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."
– Michael McCarthy, Independent
"Goulson reminds himself that he 'began studying bumblebees not because they are important pollinators but because they are fascinating, because they behave in interesting and mysterious ways, and because they are rather loveable.' It's worth reading A Sting in the Tale for the same reasons."
– Hannah Rosefield, Literary Review
"A worthy book of the year."
– Mary Beard, Observer
"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."
– Patrick Barkham, Guardian
"This isn't one of those natural science books that simply tells you things – it admits how much we don't know."
– Mark Mason, Spectator
"Goulson combines enthusiasm with academic authority, addressing the amateur beekeeper and professional apiarist in well-judged proportion."
– Iain Finlayson, The Times
"Goulson's case for the importance of bumblebees will live long in my memory for its sheer passion and scientific detail."
– Shami Chakrabarti, Guardian
"Entertaining and enlightening [...] Wholly engaging [...] A must for all gardeners."
– Naomi Schillinger, Garden Answers
"A very readable introduction to the remarkable world of bees and bee conservation."
– Good Book Guide
"This book will make you bee-conscious. You will learn a lot, not just about bumblebees, and you will never have a dull moment [...] So read this book. Do it for the bees."
– Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
"A lovely book"
– Big Issue
"As relief and instruction, I haven't read a more entertaining and endearing book on matters biological than Dave Goulson's"
– Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
Also available in Swedish
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Dave Goulson studied biology at Oxford University and is now Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Sussex. He has published over 190 scientific articles on bees, butterflies and other insects. He founded the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in 2006, whose groundbreaking conservation work won the Heritage Lottery Award for best Environmental Project. He this he was made 'Social Innovator of the Year' by the Biology and Biotechnology Research Council in 2010. He is also the author of A Buzz in the Meadow.