|Pages/Publication Date:||257 / 2013|
(Finalist for the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction) While still a small boy in rural Shropshire, Dave Goulson became obsessed with wildlife, starting with an increasingly exotic menagerie of pets. But it turns out that bees were to be Goulson's true passion—the humble bumblebee in particular—and he grew up to found Britain's Bumblebee Conservation Trust. In this utterly delightful paean, Goulson combines lighthearted tales of a child's budding passion for nature with a deep insight into the crucial importance of the bumblebee. Once commonly found in the marshes of Kent, the English short-haired bumblebee went extinct in the United Kingdom, but by a twist of fate still exists in the wilds of New Zealand as descendants of a few pairs shipped over in the 19th century. Dave Goulson's quest to reintroduce the English bee to its native land is one of the highlights of a book that includes original research into the habits of these mysterious creatures, history's relationship with the bumblebee, and advice on how to protect the bumblebee for future generations. Goulson details the minutiae of life in the nest and shares fascinating research into the effects that intensive farming have had on bee populations.
"A Sting in the Tale melts memoir and conservation issues into a sweet pot, moving from subject to subject very much in the manner of a foraging bee seeking flowers.... The book is warm and delightful: I frequently found myself wanting to put it down to go bird and bee-watching, to find for myself the species [the author] discusses."—NPR
"Not only enormously informative, but also hugely entertaining: [the book's] light touch and constant humor make cutting-edge research a pleasure to read about. For anyone interested in the natural world, this is essential reading."—Independent (London)
"In between describing the ordeal that ensued when Goulson and a fellow entomologist traveled to New Zealand to solve the puzzle of shipping bumblebee queens back to England, the author gives readers a solid grounding in bee gestation, anatomy, culture, and the many environmental threats bees are currently facing. An outstanding piece of nature writing that also celebrates one of humankind's most cherished insects."—Booklist