Our new book is out today, with beautiful illustrations of some of the amazing bee species we spent the winter researching and writing about, from the world’s largest bumblebee, the giant golden bumblebee (Bombus dahlbombii) in Patagonia – dubbed the flying mouse – to the most northerly bumblebee (Bombus polaris) which sunbathes in Arctic poppies.
Nearer to home, we learned about the solitary bees living in our garden, including the delightfully named hairy-footed flower bee (Anthophora plumipes). The furry black females are easy to spot in February and March darting among the lungwort and comfrey with their tongue sticking out in search of food. In April, red mason bees (Osmia bicornis) emerge from our bee hotels perfectly timed with the blossoming of the apple tree. Leafcutter bees (Megachile centuncularis) follow later in the summer flying through the air with a rose leaf clasped between their legs like a witch on a broom.
And we discovered a whole world of tiny black solitary bees, from the small scissor bees (Chelostoma campanularum) on our campanulas to the resin bees (Heriades truncorum) nesting in holes drilled into wood and the furrow bees (Lasioglossum calceatum) on our Geranium rozanne (the best flower for solitary bees, research shows).
We wanted to share our infectious fascination and awe for bees by highlighting their vital role as a lynchpin in the working of our planet and their relationship with us throughout history. We hope in doing so that people fall in love with nature’s wizards. But their existence is increasingly threatened. So the book also sets out simple steps we can all take to help bees, and explains how we need to make our countryside and our cities havens for bees to help not just their survival, but ours too.