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.