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Bees: A Natural History


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About the Author

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.


Overall the book is very informative, easy to read and thoroughly recommended for the beginner, leaving the reader wanting more.--Adrian Spalding"Entomologist's Gazette (2014) Vol. 65" (04/01/2014)
It feels good to hold a well-crafted book in your hands, but Bees is not just a pretty frontispiece. Large, superb, close-up photos punctuate a fairly in-depth examination of the world's bees, both solitary and social, stinging, honey-storing or not. There are more than 20,000 identified species of bees (significantly more than birds and mammals combined), the authors have selected representative species and genera to ensure the book doesn't go on for too long. We learn that there is far more to bees than honey, and we must pay attention, as one-third of our food is bee-dependent... The book also contains pertinent information on diversity among bees, including grades of sociality; the role of males in bee society; why bees are good pollinators; and the role of bees in human lives. We discover that many species are stressed, largely through habitat loss, and what we can do in our own back yards to give bees a helping hand. This is an excellent resource for schools and nature centres, and the clear prose and large text will be readable for advanced middle school students and up.-- (04/01/2014)
This beautifully illustrated book provides the reader with an excellent overview of the 18,000 or so recognised species of bee found across the globe... The book is easy to read and a must for any serious student of the Hymenoptera. The author has been in the forefront of bee conservation in the UK for many years and here offers further good advice on how to reverse the declines recorded for many British species.-- (10/01/2014)
It is only correct to comment on the extraordinarily high quality of the photographs throughout and the great skill employed by the many photographers... This book will appeal to general naturalists and wildlife photographers as well as bee specialists and all-round entomologists too.-- (11/01/2013)
I will never be able to look at a bee the same again! What an amazing book with 240 pages that draw the reader in! This oversize book (the better to see the photos) is a wealth of information concerning bees and their contribution to our world... Way too much information to take in one reading! This book is a must have! I recommend it!-- (01/07/2014)
Chris O'Toole, in conjunction with Tony Raw, wrote Bees of the World, which has become a seminal volume: this new book will rightfully take its place beside it on the bookshelf. ... It is (O'Toole's) writing style that makes him stand out. As an international scientist, he is accurate and detailed in his information yet he has the flowing style of a gifted writer: never verbose and never ever patronizing.... Questions of some simplicity, which a novice might be embarrassed to ask, but are vital to full and complete understanding, are answered and explained in such a way that even the highly informed will find fresh and interesting... The quality and detail of the wonderful colour photography of Edward Ross and others, which enhance almost every page, is truly the icing on this delicious cake.-- (01/01/2014)
This superbly illustrated volume ... plunges the reader into the world of a group of insects whose diversity and behaviors is an eloquent testimony to the precision of natural selection.-- (05/08/2014)
Understanding bee-plant relationships helps us provide food for the world. This beautifully-illustrated, appreciative tribute will be valuable to bee professionals, students, and naturalists.-- (12/01/2013)
Readers who wish to own one general book about bees will want to acquire this interesting, beautiful volume... The numerous and exceptional photographs, half page, full page, or larger, generously scattered throughout the book might suggest that the volume was intended for the coffee table, and it will grace many. However, this is a natural history work in the truest sense, containing a wealth of information about these fascinating insects. ... Broadly appealing. Highly recommended.-- (05/01/2014)
This volume provides an enjoyable survey of the world's bees and their relationships with plants, predators, and humans. It is aimed at general readers... It is generously illustrated with extraordinary, high-quality, color photographs by several photographers, and the layout is attractive... Although the book has a honey bee on the cover and honey bees receive plenty of attention in the sections on social bees and bee-human relations--one of its primary goals is to introduce readers to the world's wild bees, most of which are solitary. The volume begins with chapters on the biology of bees and an overview of the world's bee families. The next section covers bees as pollinators, first explaining the basics of pollination and then devoting two chapters to some of the "greatest hits" of pollination ecology, such as the bizarre-looking Rediviva bees of South Mrica, with their elongate front legs adapted for extracting oil from the floral spurs of their host plants. An additional chapter deals with the many parasites that exploit the protein-rich provisions in bee nests. The concluding section addresses the relationship between bees and humans, starting with Paleolithic honey-gatherers and continuing through modern applications of honey bee products (many of them entertainingly debunked by O'Toole) in medicine and cosmetics. The book describes recent advances in bee conservation and management and ends with a strong argument for why more of us should learn about and advocate for wild bees... The photographs alone are worth the price of admission, and the text provides a good introduction to bee ecology and diversity.-- (09/15/2015)
This book will be of interest to a wide audience.--Bees for Development Journal (11/01/2014)
O'Toole, an entomologist and bee expert, introduces readers to a sample of the world's 20,000 bee species in this beautiful new book... The strength of the book is in its introduction of the rest of the kinds of bees.-- (12/01/2013)
Honeybees and bumblebees will be familiar to most people, but the numerous species of solitary bees are largely unknown. Chris O'Toole's book covers the broad spectrum of these bees, which occur throughout the world except in polar regions. The various groups of solitary and social bees are described and illustrated with some excellent colour photographs.... This book will appeal to anyone with an interest in bees and the process of pollination.-- (03/01/2014)
I congratulate and thank the author. He has provided us with a wonderful account of bee natural history, which popularizes bees and stresses the importance of pollination. This will be helpful in their conservation as everybody can make the environment more suitable for bees... I recommend this book to everybody who is interested in the ecology of pollinators and looking for information on the conservation of biodiversity. This book should be present in every biological library, particularly those in schools, for use by beginners in the study of bee ecology.-- (07/01/2014)

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