With Christmas just around the corner, here are some great books to buy as presents, or to put on your own Santa’s wish list.
The Garden Jungle – Dave Goulson
Top of our choices has to be Professor Dave Goulson’s latest book – The Garden Jungle. Dave gave some inspirational talks in both Jersey and Guernsey earlier this year on this subject.
The Garden Jungle is about the wildlife that lives right under our noses, in our gardens and parks, between the gaps in the pavement, and in the soil beneath our feet. Wherever you are right now, the chances are that there are worms, woodlice, centipedes, flies, silverfish, wasps, beetles, mice, shrews and much, much more, quietly living within just a few paces of you.
Dave gives us an insight into the fascinating and sometimes weird lives of these creatures, taking us burrowing into the compost heap, digging under the lawn and diving into the garden pond. He explains how our lives and ultimately the fate of humankind are inextricably intertwined with that of earwigs, bees, lacewings and hoverflies, unappreciated heroes of the natural world.
The Garden Jungle is at times an immensely serious book, exploring the environmental harm inadvertently done by gardeners who buy intensively reared plants in disposable plastic pots, sprayed with pesticides and grown in peat cut from the ground. Dave argues that gardens could become places where we can reconnect with nature and rediscover where food comes from. With just a few small changes, our gardens could become a vast network of tiny nature reserves, where humans and wildlife can thrive together in harmony rather than conflict.
For anyone who has a garden, and cares about our planet, this book is essential reading.
Dancing with Bees – Brigit Strawbridge Howard
Brigit Strawbridge Howard is another CI visitor who has been a great friend to our project. Her awakening to nature came the day when she realised she knew more about the French Revolution than she did about her native trees. And birds. And wildflowers. And bees. The thought stopped her—quite literally—in her tracks. But that day was also the start of a journey, one filled with silver birches and hairy-footed flower bees, skylarks, and rosebay willow herb, and the joy that comes with deepening one’s relationship with place. Dancing with Bees is Brigit’s charming and eloquent account of a return to noticing, to rediscovering a perspective on the world that had somehow been lost to her for decades and to reconnecting with the natural world. With special care and attention to the plight of pollinators, including honeybees, bumblebees, and solitary bees, and what we can do to help them, Brigit shares fascinating details of the lives of flora and fauna that have filled her days with ever-increasing wonder and delight.
Her passion for nature is infectious. The book is a delight to read – packed full of the most fascinating facts on bees and other creatures. The writing style is spot on – really educational, but still able to hold the reader’s attention throughout. If we have any hope of saving our natural world then we all need to have the admiration and wonder for nature that Brigit does. If you care about nature this book has to be on your bookshelf.
Bumblebees – An introduction – by Dr Nikki Gammans, Dr Richard Comont, et al.
The characteristic buzz of a bumblebee is one of the best-loved sounds of summer. Many people are fascinated by these iconic, endearing creatures and want to know more, but a general introduction to them has not been available until now. This Bumblebee Conservation Trust book fills that gap by introducing these charismatic species to a wider audience. Written by Trust staff, it covers bumblebee biology, their decline and conservation and what you can do to help them in your garden and beyond. It also has an essential identification guide to all UK bumblebee species, packed with over 250 colour photographs.
This book is perfect for those wanting to know more about the UK’s bumblebees, their ecology and how to identify them.
Bee Hotel – Melanie von Orlow
Solitary bees and bugs need our help, not just on a global level but in every back garden, courtyard and balcony. Creating little homes for them to lay their eggs in is a really easy way to make a help the insect population, and at the same time bring diversity, wildlife and plant propagation to your outdoor spaces. Featuring 30 DIY insect home projects, this Haynes manual is full of helpful hints and tips on how to fill your garden with happy bees and beneficial insects.
In Pursuit of Butterflies – A Fifty-year Affair – Matthew Oates
Matthew Oates has led a butterflying life. Naturalist, conservationist and passionate lover of poetry, he has devoted himself to these exalted creatures: to their observation, to singing their praises, and to ensuring their survival. Based on fifty years of detailed diaries, In Pursuit of Butterflies is the chronicle of this life.
Oates leads the reader through a lifetime of butterflying, across the mountain tops, the peat bogs, sea cliffs, meadows, heaths, the chalk downs and great forests of the British Isles. Full of humour, zeal, digression, expertise and anecdote, this book provides a profound encounter with one of our great butterfly lovers, and with a half-century of butterflies in Britain.
Buzz- The Nature and Necessity of Bees – Thor Hanson
Bees are like oxygen: ubiquitous, essential, and, for the most part, unseen. While we might overlook them, they lie at the heart of relationships that bind the human and natural worlds. In Buzz, author and biologist Thor Hanson takes us on a journey that begins 125 million years ago, when a wasp first dared to feed pollen to its young. From honeybees and bumbles to lesser-known diggers, miners, leafcutters, and masons, bees have long been central to our harvests, our mythologies, and our very existence. They’ve given us sweetness and light, the beauty of flowers, and as much as a third of the foodstuffs we eat. And, alarmingly, they are at risk of disappearing. As informative and enchanting as the waggle dance of a honeybee, Buzz shows us why all bees are wonders to celebrate and protect. Read this book and you’ll never overlook them again.