I should begin by declaring an interest: I like watching bees and can often be found in the garden looking at them when I might be doing something more productive. It’s as though their sheer industriousness is enough without my joining in. I am not an expert on bees, nor do I possess great knowledge about them, and so I approach this review from the standpoint of being able, potentially, to remedy this to some extent by using this book. A key issue for me is whether (or how) I would use this guide in place of my rather fine (but deliberately limited) Guide to Bees of Britain by the Field Studies Council [FSC]. It is this 8 x A5 folded sheet that I currently take into the garden, or on walks, to aid identification. This has fine pictures, a clear text, and weighs in at only 37g.
“Most people are amazed to discover that we have over 270 species of bee in Britain and Ireland and that bumblebees and the Honey Bees account for only one-tenth of that figure. They are also surprised to learn that over a quarter of our bee species do not collect pollen or make nests but are ‘cuckoos’ of other bee species, or that some of our so-called ‘solitary’ species are actually social, or that some bees look more like wasps.”
“does mean having access to a microscope and collecting equipment, and developing a collection of reliably identified pinned specimens.”