Only recently have biologists discovered that human survival is inextricably linked to the survival of insects, specifically, bees. Today the 16-20,000 species of bee continue to play vital roles in human ecology. We survive only by grace of the life-sustaining network of bee-plant relationships. Bees immerses readers in the world of Apinae whose diversity of form and behaviour is eloquent testimony to the fine-tuning of natural selection. Written by a world-leading entomologist and specialist in bees, the book's topics include: What are bees? (The Wasp Inheritance) - Bees as foragers, their nesting instinct, on-board computing facility, sun-compass orientation and sense of time; The many ways of being a bee - Solitary versus social, Miners and masons, Leafcutters and carpenters; Bees and flowering plants; The male of the species - Mating strategies, patrols, competition, territoriality, the role of scent; The enemies of bees - Cleptoparasites, cuckoo bees; Bees and People - historic and contemporary; Bees in Folk and Modern Medicine; The Conservation of Bees - the decline of bees and honeybees, bees in human ecology, bee conservation, urban bees; Bee projects - the backyard bee scientist. Bees can be found throughout history in roles poetic and military, in medicine and agriculture, in the kitchen and in the kit of a traditional healer. They have played a bigger role in human existence than is often recognized. This beautifully illustrated, appreciative tribute will be welcomed by entomologists, students and all naturalist readers.
Christopher O'Toole is an entomologist, author and speaker. He works at the Hope Entomological Collections of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. He has been scientific consultant to many television projects, including The Birth of the Bees for the BBC and on the David Attenborough series Life on Earth and was scientific consultant on the feature film Angels and Insects. His books include Bees of the World and for children, Discovering Bees and Wasps.