As a biologist my first impressions of this book were two-fold: 1) I was thrilled to see a book on native bees, after honeybees have been hogging the spotlight for all these years, and 2) I was a bit skeptical that a non-biologist non-journalist was taking on this subject. But Paige Embry totally delivers with Our Native Bees. The format includes quite a few sidebars and lots of beautiful photos of bees and flowers, so it is a gorgeous book with lots of interest. Embry really follows her curiosity in the way of an investigative journalist, and each chapter reads like a really excellent long-form piece of journalism that you might find in National Geographic or the New Yorker. She addresses honeybees right off the bat in their own chapter, since they're the elephant in the room, then moves on to chapters on North American native bees. Her interest mostly arose from gardening, but her background is in geology and she has a scientific mind that follows the questions that bring out some really great stories about these species. The target audience for this book is really the public, I think anyone who is curious about nature and loves a good story will enjoy this book. I think even people who wouldn't call themselves naturalists would enjoy it, though obviously naturalists will love it. I was so surprised by how absorbed I got in this book! The issue of native bees is so important but has really been pushed to the back burner, and I am thrilled that this riveting book is out and is NOT BORING. Luckily Amazon seems to have an extensive preview on their site (pro tip: you can get longer previews if you click on the hard copy rather than the Kindle version!) so you can verify this for yourself.
Bees are SO INTERESTING. They are so complex and strange and alien, but they are everywhere. I hope that people find this book and really look at bees closely.
I am grateful to Netgalley and Workman Publishing for providing a free electronic copy of this book. My opinions are my own.