Sunday, September 30, 2018

Queenspotting: Into the Heart of the Hive in Search of the Mysterious and Fascinating Queen Bee

Queenspotting is a new beekeeping book by Hilary Kearney.  Due out in April, 2019 from Storey publishing, it's 128 pages and will be available in ebook and hardcover formats.

This is not, strictly speaking, a how-to book.  It's full of anecdotes and warm personal experiences from the author's background as a beekeeper and swarm relocator. It's also absolutely bursting with amazing high quality macro photography of bees going about their bee business.  Some of the photographs illustrate the text and show little-known facets of daily life ('pollen pants' made me giggle out loud).  Many other full double page photos are a sort of bee 'Where's Waldo' and the point is to pick out the queen amongst the workers.  Some of the pics are very easy with the queen in full view in all her splendor, front and centre.  Others are are definitely not (and a few are a bit tricksy, with drone(s) drawing the eye immediately and the queen almost hidden out of view).

The natural science and behavior parts of the book are well written and scientifically accurate.  Where a behavior has little scientific explanation, the author states that very clearly.  Several times whilst reading the book, I found myself wistfully thinking about how much research still needs to be done and wishing I could further the research myself in some way (I'm a bioengineer working in histopathology, not an entomologist, but it was a close race). Ms. Kearney's genuine affection and respect for the natural world come through clearly in her writing.  There were a very few places in the text which might have shaded a bit into anthropomorphism, but they added to the general appeal of the book, in my opinion  It is folksy and absolutely not dry or technical and for me, that made it better and more accessible in a way.  There are a million and one solid technical manuals aimed at the apiarist, and this is not one of them.  It fills a different (and necessary) niche.

I would definitely recommend this both to bee interested folks, beekeepers, natural history/farming fans, dedicated natural gardeners, families with kids who love 'Where's Waldo' and anyone who likes natural history philosophy.  This book would also make a nice support reference for a classroom unit on insects or beekeeping.

Five stars, another winner from Storey!

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes

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