Sunday, October 12, 2008

Review: The Buzz About Bees

One of the activities I planned to do with this blog was to review bee relevant books as I read them. I've never done this, at least partially, because I haven't felt myself qualified to offer an opinion about the books I've read one way or another. Well, I've gotten through my first year almost, and am ready to tackle some reviews, always recognizing I am still a novice.

I've recently finished Jurgen Tautz's book, The Buzz About Bees - Biology of a Superorganism (Springer, 2008) and was quite impressed with the book on a number of levels. Tautz presents a highly accessible and engaging summary of bee biology with special focus on the hive as an organism from the sociobiological perspective. I am not an entomologist nor a sociobiologist but found the biological explanations understandable. This not only speaks to Tautz's ability but also to the translator's (David Sandeman) as well. I've read enough German-English translations of sociological monographs to know this is no mean feat. I learned much and, better yet, have had to rethink some of those things I thought I already knew about bees. For example, in Tautz's explanation of the why's behind "orientation flights" (124-7) flies against all I've read in other works on bees.

Besides being informative and understandable, this book also contains beautiful photographs and figures taken by Helga R. Heilmann. I've shown this book to non-beekeeping individuals who have spent a great deal of time just looking closely at those pictures.

If I have one criticism of this work, it is lack of in-text citations. I would've liked to know the source of the research used in many of the chapters, but except for a few classic works, no citations were given.

One last point, this is not a beekeeping manual! There are no "how-to's" found in this volume, however, I still think the work is a necessary addition to any beekeepers library.


Gordo said...

I just started reading it based on a recommendation from the Central New Brunswick Beekeeper's Alliance. Besides the new perspectives on some information, the photographs are amazing.

MontaGael said...

I want to add that the book FEELS wonderful in your hands. It reads easy - I'm not referring to the text, but the presentation of the text. This book is so well crafted, so fabulously put together that you glide through the pages effortlessly. Nothing is worse, when you need/want to read something, to have to struggle with less-than-perfectly-legible text, shoddy photograph treatments and poorly designed pages. This book successfully avoids every one of these problems.

And in the midst of experiencing sublime graphic-designer-design-ecstasy , I learned some fascinating things about the Abelisto's bees from the engaging, well-translated text and beautiful, amazing photographs in this book.