Bees: Heroes of the Garden – Tom Jackson

Bees! I’ll admit I never gave too much thought about them until four years ago or so, when I had the chance to visit a honeybee farm. I was accompanying a bunch of rambunctious kids back then, my own included, so I had to spend half the time babysitting XD the other half though, I was able to listen to what the beekeepers were saying. It was fascinating – and yummy, since they let us taste the honey they produced.

Honey-themed fairs are also popular in my neck of the woods: plenty of friendly keepers selling their goods and willing to talk about bees until it’s time to go home.

Asking for Bees: Heroes of the Garden on Netgalley was a no-brainer. Thank you to Tom Jackson for writing such a nice book!


With full captions explaining how bees live, function communally, communicate, feed, and reproduce, Bees is an insightful examination in 150 outstanding color photographs of mankind’s favorite insect.

Honey bees, bumblebees, mining bees, dwarf bees, carpenter, leafcutter, and mason bees: bees come in many different types, with more than 16,000 species worldwide. The bees we are most familiar with, bumblebees and honey bees, live in colonies and play a major role in pollinating the crops, plants, and flowers around us. And bees produce honey, reputedly the food of the gods—a function of bees’ lifecycle, which humans have exploited for millennia. Many bees today are domesticated, and beekeepers collect honey, beeswax, pollen, and royal jelly from hives for human use. A typical bee produces a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime. Bees can communicate many ways through the movement of their wings and bodies, most famously with the “waggle dance,” where they make figure-eight circles to let other bees know the direction and distance of nectar. Bees is an outstanding collection of photographs showing these fascinating insects in their natural habitat.

224 pages
Nature, photography
Amber Books LTD.


Cover: A drawing instead of a picture, that’s an interesting choice. I like it!


  • Did you know that ‘bee’ is a very generic term, encompassing 20k different species? Did you know that social bees are just a small fraction of a broader group of insects? Did you know that their only source of food is nectar and pollen? There are many misconceptions regarding bees, and this book helps setting them straight. Informative without being overly so – nobody likes to get beaten over the head with facts – it offers a great overview of the world of Apis (mellifera et non).
  • Good structure. There are 5 sections, introduction and credits aside, each of them focusing on a different aspect: from social to solitary bees, from their anatomy to the hives, Tom paints a rich, well-detailed picture.  
  • The visual part is incredible. Magnified photographs can capture every detail, no matter how tiny. I really appreciated the ones featuring flowers, as they made me feel as if I was out in the fields too, looking through the viewfinder and following the flight of a bee.
  • I need to point this out as a general praise: there isn’t a typo or a grammar mistake throughout the whole book. That’s professionalism, and it makes me so happy. 

Special mention:

  • Natural beehives. The one shaped as a half-moon, dangling from a tree branch is marvelous.
  • Cuckoo Bee. Mean? Yes. Parasitic behavior? Yes. It’s blue rather than yellow and black? Also yes. 
  • Bumblebees! They’re cute, okay.
  • The lilac bee on page 126. Aesthetic. 
  • The honeypots made by stingless bees.


  • Sometimes it gets a little repetitive. Nothing too grating, it’s just a detail I couldn’t help but notice.


4 stars on GR. Well done, Tom! 

2 thoughts on “Bees: Heroes of the Garden – Tom Jackson

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