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Bee Quest

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  366 ratings  ·  46 reviews
A hunt for the most elusive bees leads Dave Goulson from the Salisbury plains to the Sussex hedgerows, from Poland to Patagonia. Whether he is tracking great yellow bumblebees in the Hebrides or chasing orchid bees through the Ecuadorian jungle, Dave Goulson’s wit, humour and deep love of nature make him the ideal travelling companion.
This utterly charming book will also i
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 6th 2017 by Jonathan Cape
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Average rating 4.26  · 
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Goulson grows more like Bill Bryson and Gerald Durrell with each book. You could hardly find better mentors for writing travel/nature narratives, after all. Although the topic of this third book is probably of the least personal interest to me, there are plenty of wonderful asides and pieces of trivia that make it worth journeying along with him everywhere from Poland to Ecuador in the search for rare bees.

For as close-up as his view often is, he also sees the big picture of environmental degrad
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There is nothing better than sitting in the garden in summer sun with a glass of something cold, watching the bees buzz between flowers. The honey bee moves quickly collecting nectar, and then there are the bumble bees. They look like they shouldn’t be able to fly as they float lazily between the flowers. I thought that there were only one or two species of bumble bee, but it turns out there are many more than that. The question is how many are left, and how many could self-confessed insect nut, ...more
Tanja Berg
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful little book on Dave Goulson's favorit subject: bumblebees. Dave is fantastically knowledgable and also incredibly funny. Some of the subject matter here is quite sad, so it's a relief that it's lightened up along the way.

Dave is on the hunt for rare bumblebees. He discusses habitat losses and habitat finds in the UK. There are some surprising places left to wildlife still, although not many.

In South America, Dave looks for a large golden bumblebee. Sadly, the South American
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very interesting and enjoyable piece of nature writing. The author has a very engaging style which makes this book easily readable and not at all dry, despite clearly being well backed by the scientific literature.

The book documents the author's travels as he seeks out various rare bee species. Many of these stories are centred around his home country, the UK, but he also goes further afield to look for species in South America. While I am a UK resident myself, there was still much I did not
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: natural-history
An excellent book on one man's quest to find rare and endangered bumblebees.

Like all natural history books, it's both heart warming and heart breaking.

Dave Goulson writes with a charm and quirky sense of humour that makes this book a sheer delight to read. A word of advice: read the footnotes. You must read the footnotes. Nine tenths of the quirky sense of humour appears in the footnotes.

As well as being entertaining I learned a lot about bumblebees. Including how they came to be in New Zealand
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A really well written look at the state of the environment and the UK and various other countries around the world. I say 'the environment' as Dave Goulson, whilst his primary interest is bees, has an obvious interest in all wildlife, making this a fairly expansive view. The occasional bee fact or detail by no means overwhelms the general narrative, as Dave manages to intersperse it with excellent humour, and great story telling. The general plight of insects etc. covered in the book does make f ...more
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read the majority of this book while I was away in the wild for a long weekend and I have to say that made the whole experience even better. I was definitely keeping more of an eye out for bees and other insects than I would normally. I have loved reading every one of Dave Goulson's books and this one was no exception. It's fascinating and fun at the same time. Definitely a book that I will be recommending to people. ...more
Jess Jackson
Apr 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I liked it. A really interesting read that moved along at a nice pace. There was ALOT of facts that I never knew about Bees, some were really interesting some not so much.
I would recommend this only to someone who already had an interest in Bees and there habits.
Bente Brunia
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Could not be more happy I judged this book by its pretty cover because it is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. It has everything, passion, humor, love, education, realisation... You will not regret picking this one up, do it now before we let the natural world around us deteriorate so much we forget what a wonder bumblebees are.
Andrea Bearman
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For more reviews: Learning Bear Podcast or LinkedIn
A Review of Bee Quest by Dave Goulson
Unfortunately, where I currently live, my library did not have this book and I had to request it via Interlibrary Loan and fork out three dollars (well, my husband did, he picked them up for me). Fortunately, however, I was able to read this book, even if for a small fee. This book is quirky, detailed, and ever so interesting to read.
First and probably most importantly, I love that Goulson has an innate pass
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Anybody who knows me will know that bumblebees are my favourite animal so I thought this book was amazing and I cannot wait to read some of Goulson’s other books in the future!!
Bill Leach
Mar 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Goulson writes of some of his adventures in the search of bumblebees, touching on various factors affecting their diversity.

A major theme in the book is the threat to bees of modern agriculture, largely because it develops into large mono-cultures that cover the land virtually completely. Little marginal space is left for plant variety. In the case of the bees, no wildflowers or arable weeds are present. The contrast is found when he visits Poland where traditional agriculture is still strong, a
Mark Yates
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars. Dave Goulson's enthusiasm for bees, insects, flowers, and swinging nets over shrubs and grasses is contagious. Multiple times during the book I wanted to stop reading, grab a net, and head to the wild flower patches between the fields outside of Prague and the weeds and scrubs retaking derelict buildings. And while he is clearly distraught over habitat loss, industrial farming, and general ignorance about the importance of peppering domesticated areas with bits of the wild (as well as ...more
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone I know
I highly recommend this book to anyone with even a passing interest in the natural world, and I am not just talking about exotic creatures in far-flung locations but the unsung bugs struggling to live just outside your door.

Dave Goulson immediately took me back to the joyful days as a kid, getting mucky in the garden in the quest to catch woodlice, crickets anything I could capture in an old ice-cream tub, to then accidentally unleash in the house. Sorry, mum!

It must have been those moments in
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: natural-history
The third of Goulson’s books that I’ve read, and as enjoyable as the first two. He is the Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Sussex, and has spent the last twenty years studying bumblebees. Yet he writes in an easy, readable style; although his writing is backed by immense scientific knowledge and research, it is not dry or dusty. He has a wry sense of humour and is not self important.
In this book, he travels widely, both in the U.K. and Europe, and to more exotic destinations
Genetic Cuckoo
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
*Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

What a simply wonderful and beautiful book! It is such a beautiful book, the simple colours and high quality feel made it a real treat to hold and read.

The story is wonderful and compelling. Dave travels all over the world in search of fascinating insects and keen to understand their habitat and why in many regions they are declining and how best to conserve them. When you read this book you feel you go o
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this book and learning about the habitats of the various places visited from the Machair in the Hebrides to the churned up Salisbury Plain to the neglected brown field sites of the Thames, rewilding in Sussex then the more exotic places in S. America such as Patagonia and Ecuador. It would have been great to see some pictures of the shrill carder, dahlbomii and Franklin’s etc. I don’t think I learned much about their biology and behaviour. Some things really grab you like pigs ...more
Amber MacPherson
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be fascinating. I love conservation ecology and the natural world, but know very little of insects in general and bees in particular. This book was a lovely introduction to the topic. I now want to find a field guide of Colorado insects, particularly high altitude ones, so I can try to identify what I find in my yard and in high alpine meadows. I found the author's dry wit to be amusing even if he could sometimes be a bit wordy and his passion for the topic was infectious.

May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Conservation and bee hunting

This third popular bumblebee science book looks at wild bees in their environments, from unpromising brownfield sites to equatorial rain forests. It's written in Dave Goulson's engaging style. As well as the hunts for rare bees, successful and unsuccessful, we're informed on political aspects of conservation in ways to make us rethink the notion that our countryside and its diversity means agriculture. Small changes in food production methods can lead to an increase i
Goska A
“Bee Quest” by David Goulson - read for Goodreads ATY 2019, category: 7: 2 books related to the same topic, genre, or theme, which is BUMBLEBEES for me Book #1

I am a very dedicated atheist and antitheist but if there is anyone I could call my deity, that would be Dave, British biologist and conservationist, who is my sensei on bumblebees, nature and environment.

“Bee Quest” is the third book by Goulson I’ve read. After the first one – “A Sting in The Tale” I joined the British Bee Walk and s
Julian Walker
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part travelogue, part natural history, part environmental, total enjoyment. 

Who knew there were so many kinds of bumble bee, or how important they are to our lives?

The author’s enthusiasm for the insects and the environment is infectious - his students, with whom he shares several adventures, have a master teacher. 

This is a really enjoyable book, instantly absorbing, and one which gets across a serious message in a non-preaching, and highly illustrative way (albeit without images - which is the
Nina Selezneva
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's a very honest book from a nature loving person that surpasses the main theme of bees and encompasses far larger topics of nature in general, its current state and our role in it. A thought-provoking and well written book with an occasional typically British self-irony of the author. An enjoyable read I recommend anyone to get acquainted with, regardless of their interest in entomology or nature. ...more
Mark Walker
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
There isn't that much about bees in this work. Goulson is interested in showing how unspoilt areas still survive and can be supported. The hook is looking for bees in these places, but actually the theme is about protecting our natural environment. By finding communities of unusual bees he is saying that it is possible for mankind to allow wildlife to flourish. He therefore highlights the things we should not do. ...more
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think I need to backtrack on the author to get some basic bee knowledge. Sometimes fascinating, sometimes depressing. The chapters marginal land in London and the re-wilding of Knepp Castle were my favourites.
Sebastiaan de Jager
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great book to read with a cup of tea if you're interested in a bee enthousiast's anecdotes with occasional commentary on the politics surrounding ecology and climate change. Some chapters near the end were relatively speaking less exciting and therefore harder to get through. ...more
Jessica Goldstrohm
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dave Goulson cleverly combines humor with important facts we all should be aware of. I love his books, and can't wait for the next! ...more
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gaia
Brilliant and funny book. Everyone should read this!
Charles Sweetland
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a fun and inspiring book, a must for speculative beekeepers or nature lovers.
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! Dave Goulson has a gentle and humorous style, whilst laying bare the impact that we are having on our world and invertebrates. Highly recommended.
Miriam Williams
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Quite charming.
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After a childhood chasing butterflies and collecting bird’s eggs, I studied Biology at Oxford University, and then did a PhD on butterfly ecology at Oxford Brookes University. Shortly afterwards I got a lectureship at University of Southampton, where I stayed for 11 years. It was there that I began to specialize in bumblebee ecology and conservation. In 2006 I became Professor of Biology and Stirl ...more

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