Keeping the Bees: Why All Bees Are at Risk and What We Can

Keeping the Bees: Why All Bees Are at Risk and What We Can From the jungles of South America to the deserts of Arizona, one thing remains consistent bees are disappearing A world without bees would be much less colourful, with fewer flowers But that s not all bees are responsible for up to one third of our food supply, and the consequences of not taking action to protect them are frightening While the media focuses on colony collapse disorder and the threats to honey bees specifically, the real danger is much greater all bees are at risk, whether it be from loss of habitat, pesticide use or disease, among other factors And because of the integral role these insects play in the ecology of our planet, we may be at risk as wellIn Keeping the Bees, Laurence Packer, a melittologist whose life revolves around bees, debunks many myths about these creatures and takes us behind the scenes with scientists around the world who are working to save these fascinating creatures before it s too late Fantastic living book on bees. I think I assumed this would be a beekeeping memoir In fact, it s a thorough and passionate defense of the ongoing ecological importance of bees, written by a York University, Toronto biology professor in 2010 Packer insists that bees are the new canary in the environmental coal mineso than birds, they are the best indicators of collapsing ecosystems it s just that amateurs arelikely to be surveying birds and identifying them correctly Almost every component of your average b I think I assumed this would be a beekeeping memoir In fact, it s a thorough and passionate defense of the ongoing ecological importance of bees, written by a York University, Toronto biology professor in 2010 Packer insists that bees are the new canary in the environmental coal mineso than birds, they are the best indicators of collapsing ecosystems it s just that amateurs arelikely to be surveying birds and identifying them correctly Almost every component of your average breakfast, including coffee, depends on the pollinating work of bees, and we will surely face a food crisis in the next several decades unless we preserve them.The study of bees is known as melittology and in a fun touch of etymology in a book about entomology, Packer notes that the same Greek root word gives us adjectives like mellifluous and melodious And he does indeed make bees sound pleasant, except perhaps when he discusses the predatory ones cuckoo and robber bees, and the bee wolf actually a wasp Although the author might be accused of anthropomorphism at times, passages such as this one help to explain why he has such fondness for bees Male bees are randy little buggers whose sole aim is to mate with females that will use their sperm I should have known and possibly did but just forgot that only female bees sting the stinger is a modified ovipositor.This book is most valuable as a madcap travel adventure into bee diversity There are seven families of bees they can be social or solitary and they rely on all sorts of food and nest sites It s not just honey vulture bees feed on rotting meat Bees are, contrary to expectations, especially diverse in deserts For novices, it will be especially useful to read about the differences between true bees and the various wanna bees, such as hover flies and some moths and beetles that can look remarkably bee like.Packer journeys from his native Canada to Australia, Florida, South Africa and Mexico to research bee colonies His chapter titles and subtitles are fun reading in their own right I especially liked his account of collecting pollen by shaking flowers with the motion of a tuning fork he discovered that a plucked guitar string works just as well The supplementary material, including photos and a chart and list of all the bee families and species mentioned, may be particularly useful.Although this book certainly has an agenda, it s an important one and Packer doesn t overstate his case He first noticed the decline in bees in 1986, when he travelled to Munich for a conference and was struck by the dearth of bees he encountered in the German countryside He suspected pesticide use was to blame, and it has indeed become one of the chief explanations for bees decline Other causes are climate change, being supplanted by invasive species 30 in North America alone , and habitat fragmentation due to development.Here are a few steps ordinary folks especially gardeners can take to help bees rebound Grow bee friendly, native plants Provide nesting sites, even just bamboo canes or blocks of wood Don t use pesticides Buy organic food whenever possibleIn some ways this wasn t really a book for me it s much better suited to my husband, an entomology PhD student and university biology teaching associate But everyone needs to know what s happening to bees, and what we can do to bring them back Best of all all profits from this book go to research on bee conservation Recommended read alikes A Sting in the Tale My Adventures with Bumblebees, Dave Goulson I ve got this on the shelf to read soon The Bees, poems by Carol Ann Duffy Generation A, Douglas Coupland There s certainly been a lot of buzz about The Bees by Laline Paull As I write this, I m watching a number of bee species foraging among the flowers of my cup plants Silphium perfoliatum just outside my dining room window The author makes the case very persuasively that we must take immediate steps to preserve these important pollinators or suffer the consequences of future food insecurity He writes with passion and erudition about his special area of study in a readable style that kept me turning the pages He includes a useful and partially annotated bibli As I write this, I m watching a number of bee species foraging among the flowers of my cup plants Silphium perfoliatum just outside my dining room window The author makes the case very persuasively that we must take immediate steps to preserve these important pollinators or suffer the consequences of future food insecurity He writes with passion and erudition about his special area of study in a readable style that kept me turning the pages He includes a useful and partially annotated bibliography as well as appendices on the names of the bee species discussed in the book One may read this delightful work as an introduction to bee biology, as an account of doing important scientific research in the field, as a cautionary tale about negative human effects on bee populations, or as a clever treatise on the importance of ecological thinking As I watch the bees fumbling about in my flowers, I have an even greater appreciation for the co evolutionary processes that have made this scene possible The subtitle of the book is Why All Bees Are at Risk and What We Can Do to Save Them I am convinced by the author s excellent arguments and intend to take seriously his suggestions for encouraging bees in my landscape Highly recommended Lawrence Packer directly addresses the subtitle in his last chapter, but getting there is a lot of fun I thought his book was going to feature the things we could do to help save the bees, but in actuality this is like reading a sometimes factual, sometimes humorous textbook about bees.I found a ton of amazing things never knew about bees, such as how many species there were, mating habits, and the dangers of bee predators Yes, I know that sounds anything but fascinating except for maybe the Lawrence Packer directly addresses the subtitle in his last chapter, but getting there is a lot of fun I thought his book was going to feature the things we could do to help save the bees, but in actuality this is like reading a sometimes factual, sometimes humorous textbook about bees.I found a ton of amazing things never knew about bees, such as how many species there were, mating habits, and the dangers of bee predators Yes, I know that sounds anything but fascinating except for maybe the entomologists reading this , but Mr Packer does his best to entertain while he educates Along the way, we also learn how one small insect can have a major impact on an ecosystem, and the question of man s impact is also discussed.A bit academic at times, this book is still worth the effort Mr Packer also has a detailed Sources section, which lists everything from books to websites to television shows, enabling readers to extend their knowledge to their heart s content Five stars

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