Princeton University Press, having found me by courtesy of Google, sent me a copy of a new book, asking me to write a review.  The book is an identification guide to the Bumble Bees of North America, a subject of which I knew absolutely nothing!  Here’s what I wrote:


 Thank you for sending me a copy of the book. I now know far more about the subject than I did two days ago!

 The book is very informative, well illustrated and well written and I detected only one split infinitive (p.31)! This will become a necessary addition to every nature lover’s bookshelf and every school and reference library throughout N. America.

 The authors concentrate on a range of characteristics to identify and separate the many species of bumble bees in that region; however, as a simple beekeeper, I wonder why they omit the wing vein indices, which are useful in distinguishing between the various sub-species of the honeybee, Apis mellifera. This might be simpler for the amateur naturalist than some of the microscopic characters described.

 While this excellent book sits on its shelf, it would be useful for the naturalist to have a more robustly covered, pocket sized, edition to take into the field for practical use. This could be sold as a package together with a collection jar fitted with a magnifying lens to enable the captured bee to be examined in detail and identified and then released unharmed, rather than being pinned to a board.

 I hope these observations are of assistance.”

My point about wing veins is that, if they can, with reasonable accuracy, give guidance as to the strain of one species, the honeybee, surely there must be a much greater variation between separate species of bumble.  Does anybody know about this?  I shall make enquiries elsewhere.

I wonder whether any/all of my review will be published!



About chrissladesbeeblog

I have been keeping bees since 1978 and currently have about a dozen hives. I am a member of the BBKA where for many years I represented Dorset at the Annual Delegates' Meeting. I am the co-author (with Dave MacFawn of of S. Carolina) of "Getting the Best from Your Bees" and am working on a book of my own poems : "Bee People".
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6 Responses to YOU READ IT HERE FIRST!

  1. Emily Heath says:

    Curious that they chose to send a copy of a book about American bumblebees to a British honey bee keeper!

  2. Google is international. The parcel with the book was addressed to chrisladesbeeblog, and I know that some Americans read it.

  3. Margaret says:

    Peer review is now international. There is also a lot of kudos in having an “English Expert” pronounce on a book.
    No doubt Chris they will pick out the pits they wish to publish and use the advice to their advantage. It was very generous of you to give it.

  4. Jim Fischer has sent me this comment and link:
    Does anybody know whether my conjecture
    > about the wings of the 46 N. American species
    > of bumble being sufficiently different from each
    > other to be a useful aid in identifying species is correct?

    Yes, this has been verified several times, most recently here:

    It leads to: Identification of Bombus species based on wing venation structure

    These days with hi-rez digital cameras, one should be able to shoot pix of
    resting bumblebee wings and get some pattern matching done “in the cloud”,
    for a game of “Name That Bumblebee”. But at least for the local bumbles
    around NYC, Long Island, and CT, I think they can all be ID-ed by coloring
    and body shape.
    .And isn’t expecting any bee to hold still for a photo the path to

  5. Talking With Bees says:

    Beekeeping fame at last! I can but dream 😉

    Very much enjoy reading your blog so I am sure you will write a delightful review that they will want to include/publish.

    I’ve just launched some labels for honey jars. What do you think? I’m not sure if there is a market … I’ll find out.

    Happy beekeeping.

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