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:
“BUMBLE BEES OF NORTH AMERICA
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!