A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson

A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson was first published in 2013 and it’s apparently a Sunday Times bestseller but it was via Joan at Planet Joan that I heard about it.

I’ve always loved bees and never been able to understand people who are frightened of them, such as the plumber we had who refused to go into our old house using the front door as the cotoneaster was alive with bees, silly man.

This book is very informative about all sorts of bees, written in a very amusing and readable fashion, despite the scientific facts within it. Dave Goulson has made bees his life’s study and is a very successful academic who has worked in several different universities in the UK, including Stirling University, not that far from me, so some of the information was very local to my area.

At one point Goulson describes: gangs of males can often be seen clustered together, reminiscent of a group of men propping up the bar in a pub. – which is just exactly what I have thought when the bees sound positively boozy with so much pollen.

I had no idea that the Perthshire soft fruit industry relies on importing bees from abroad, because the local bees wouldn’t be able to pollinate the vast quantities of plants involved. It seems crazy to me, surely we could have someone here breeding the bees.

Coincidentally, just as I finished reading this book I noticed a report in one of the local newspapers about a nasty disease infecting bees in Perthshire, you can read about it here.

A Sting in the Tale ended up being an entertaining read although I know that if I had been the author’s mother I would have been very worried about him as he was growing up. He describes how he had an obsession with nature which meant that he was on the lookout for animals and ended up scraping up roadkill in an attempt to practice his taxidermy skills on them. Being one of his childhood pets was not a good place to be as he invariably did them to death somehow or other. He did sound a bit like an incipient serial killer, but he turned out fine in the end. It just shows that you can worry too much about things!

My only gripe about this book is that there are no photos in it, I could have been doing with some to help me identify bees in my garden. Have I ever seen a carder bee for instance, much mentioned in the book but new to me? I googled carder bee and lo and behold it seems that the bees in the nearby nest and guzzling my bee bar plants are, I’m fairly certain, carder bees. I’m chuffed!

4 thoughts on “A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson

  1. Bees are absolutely necessary to the survival of the planet as we know it. Fascinating creatures – I have a great deal of respect for them. And fear…because I’m deathly allergic.

    • Pearl,
      Being allergic to bees must be quite scary! Luckily they’re not as aggressive as wasps. I’ve only been stung by a bee once, and it was blown into me in a huge gust of wind, so it didn’t mean to do it.

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