In 2016, I got a macro lens. It forced me to look closer at the insects in my garden and I quickly realized that there was a lot more diversity than I could have imagined. I joined Bowerbird (since closed) to help with invertebrate identification and become fascinated by entomology.
I would photograph every insect I could find and tried to learn as much as I could. I bought multiple field guides. However the sheer amount of insects, even in a small area, was incredibly overwhelming. Birds have roughly 900 species in Australia. There is some variation within species, but there are enough birdwatchers to help with an identification.
It wasn’t the same with bees. I fell in love with the sheer diversity of species, in terms of features and colouring. I stopped trying to identify them though because, as a beginner, the task felt too difficult. That is why this book is so useful.
It Is A Brilliant Introduction
The book feels like a coffee table book. The pages are full of large, detailed photos of various bee species along with little facts about those featured. Species are organized according to state, with 10-15 species per state. For each species, you will get 3-4 photos showing the species at different angles or highlighting how the male and female specimens differ. James also provides a paragraph or 2 describing interesting facts about the species.
You don’t have to read the book in any specific way. You can flip through it and admire the photography. You can skip to your state and read about the various species you may be able to find locally. You can read a page each day to learn interesting facts about bees.
This book reminded me of the joy I would feel just watching various species. This feeling of sheer wonder is something I find is missing from a lot of nature books. Insects don’t have the same attraction that other species do, so most books are designed to primarily inform. This necessary if we are to attract and support more citizen scientists.
The book also contains 7 essays about issues relevant to bee enthusiasts. These are short, compared to some of the other books I’ve read, and are very accessible. The essays discuss the important of museums, how to attract bees to your garden and how to find bees.
I thoroughly enjoyed this. This review is based on a library copy and I’m planning to buy a hard copy to add to my collection. I also hope that the author, James Dorey, considers releasing more books.
Do I recommend it?
Definitely! The photography is awesome and inspires me to want to work harder. The species themselves are fascinating. It is a lot easier to appreciate the variety and uniqueness of various species when you aren’t bombarded with a lot of information in field guides. You won’t learn the same amount that you would from other books – but it may spark or reignite an interest in bees.