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What we're reading: June 2019

Thor Hanson looks at the vital role bees play in our existence, and travels across the world to meet the people working to protect them.

By National Geographic Traveller (UK)
Published 23 Jun 2019, 08:00 BST, Updated 22 Jul 2021, 16:22 BST
Buzz cover

The humble bee needs our help — an alarming 40% of all bee species are in decline or threatened with extinction. 

Delving into the natural world is familiar territory for conservation biologist and author Thor Hanson, who’s previously penned tomes about gorillas, feathers and seeds, but Buzz marks his first foray into insects. Focusing on wild bees, he details their evolution, interaction with plants and humans and, most critically, the challenges facing them now.

On his round-the-world journey, Hanson meets scientists, farmers and bee-lovers; there’s a visit to a Californian date plantation to illustrate how painstaking hand pollination can be, and a visit to an almond orchard, where efforts are being made to revive the bee population. It’s an insightful read that cleverly melds nature, history and apiology. Hanson dubs his pollinating protagonists ‘hippie, long-haired, flower-loving, vegetarian wasps’ — with descriptions like that, he might win over even the most hardened apiphobes.

Buzz, by Thor Hanson, now in paperback, is published by Icon Books. RRP: £9.99.  

Wise words: A natural selection

How to Catch a Mole
It’s not often you meet a mole-catcher, let alone read their story. Marc Hamer’s uplifting writings shed some light on the velvety creatures burrowing beneath our countryside. RRP: £12.99 (Harvill Secker)

Working with Nature
Environmentalist Jeremy Purseglove shares the many ways in which we can carefully harvest the earth’s fruits, whether it’s cocoa farming in Trinidad or apple-picking in Kent. RRP: £14.99 (Profile Books)

Time Song: Searching for Doggerland
Using a combination of memoir, verse and story, Julia Blackburn tells the story of the huge plain that once connected the east of England with mainland Europe. RRP: £25.99 (Vintage Publishing)

Published in the Jul/Aug 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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