The Soli­tary Bees

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Our Wild World -

BY BRYAN N. DAN­FORTH, RIBERT L. MINCKLEY AND JOHN L. NEFF, PRINCE­TON UNIVER­SITY PRESS, £35 What­ever you thought you knew about bees is prob­a­bly wrong. Hon­ey­bees and bum­bles (only 10 per cent of bees) have mo­nop­o­lised pub­lic aware­ness, leav­ing soli­tary species un­der­val­ued. Soli­tary by virtue of each female work­ing alone to build a nest and stock it with enough pollen/nec­tar cake to rear her pre­cious few (usu­ally 6–35) off­spring, the non-so­cial bees are as vul­ner­a­ble and in need of con­ser­va­tion ef­fort as they are ig­nored. Yet their di­ver­sity is as­tound­ing – from flight­less, big-headed males to cuckoo par­a­sitism and un­der­wa­ter nests. This book some­times uses tech­ni­cal lan­guage to dis­cuss com­plex sci­ence, but there is some­thing as­ton­ish­ing on ev­ery page.

Richard Jones En­to­mol­o­gist

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