The newly released 3rd edition of Bumblebees, number 6 of the Naturalists’ Handbooks series for ecology and identification by Pelagic Publishing, is a phenomenal resource. Focused on British bumblebees, this book is full of information about all aspects of the ecology of bumblebees which makes it a valuable resource for readers in any location. It’s a book which is not overburdened with too much scientific data (although much is referenced), but still packs in a great deal of information, this book is very useful. I recently researched bumblebees for an Urban Species Profile and I wish I’d had this book then because it contains all of the information I had to gather from many different resources.
The book begins with a description of how to recognize bumblebees and discusses the difference between bumblebees and cuckoo bumblebees, which is valuable to know when observing a nest because the cuckoo bumblebees often take over colonies. Following is a detailed chapter on the natural history of bumblebees and although it focuses on British bees, it’s full of interesting information about the difference in behavior among bumblebees. The chapter also details the annual cycle of colonies, which is the same among most temperate climates, including most of the US. The entire life cycle is explained over the next few pages with a great deal of interesting information. For example you can tell an overwintered queen from a new, or virgin queen because the overwintered queen will have more ragged wingstips and the hairs on her wings will be worn away. Continue reading »