Native bees of the ACT and NSW South Coast. A spotter’s guide
By Peter Abbott,
Published by email@example.com
2022, 127 pp. Online price $30.
Review by Michael Batley
Bee spotters! What a great name for such an important body of scientific expertise. As I sat down to write this, I received an e-mail containing evidence that extends the known distribution of one of our bees by over 600 km. The bee is fairly common but is rarely found in museum collections, possibly because it favours tiny, inconspicuous flowers usually ignored by mere humans. This is only the most recent of many examples of discoveries made only because somebody bothered to look! We need many more pairs of eyes.
And now Peter Abbott has not only given us a new name for this invaluable group of watchers, but a very practical manual for new and old experienced enthusiasts. Given the number of species and photogenic qualities of our native bees, it is unsurprising that there have been an number of books about them in re-cent years, but Peter has recognised two important things. Firstly that such books are much more useful if the focus is narrowed a little by concentration on a specific region and secondly that not everyone has a microscope.
It does not mean that this book is only for readers living in the ACT. One would have to be north of Brisbane or inland from the Great Dividing Range, even in Victoria, before differences in composition of the bee fauna became important. And the very practical suggestions about en-joying native bees are applicable everywhere.
It may seem strange that what stood out for me in a book so comprehensively illustrated with high quality photographs was the clear and concise writing. A reader new to joys of the insect world will find a gentle introduction to native bees with help on when, where and how to look. This is followed by a central section of the book in which species are identified by easily observable characteristics, occasionally helped by features observable with a simple hand lens. Whether you prefer skimming photographs or written notes, this is the section that will be used as your reference when bee spotting.
It was pleasing to find that towards the end, the book addresses the important question of how to pass on your knowledge. There are many suggestions about ways in which you can become involved or encourage others to do so. I am unaware of any bee twitchers, but just in case, there is also a checklist of species Peter has found in the ACT and NSW South Coast. He knows, as do all of us who love bees, that the list will never be complete, but that one of the minor incentives for dedicated bee spotters is the hope that they may add a new name to the checklist or even better, find a previously unrecognised species.
Review by Michael Batley
The launch of this wonderful new book was held in Pollinator Week on 12 November in the National Botanic Gardens in Canberra. The event was well attended and the high level of interest in the book is encouraging.
Unfortunately the spring weather here which has been less than ideal for native bee spotting!
Further details on the content of the book and its availability can be found at www.NativeBeesACT.net . The online price is
$30 (plus $6 postage).