The best books about pollinators

1 authors have picked their favorite books about pollinators and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Bees

By Laurence Packer, Sam Droege,

Book cover of Bees: An Up-Close Look at Pollinators Around the World

There is a rich literature on bees, but I can’t think of a better place to start than the wonderful photography and storytelling found in this beautiful book. Arranged geographically, each page contains close-up images of a particular bee spcies from around the world, alongside a brief description. The authors are both top-notch entomologists, so the text is highly accurate and well written. But it’s the photography that really dazzles, showing off the surprising range of shapes, sizes, and colors that make bees more diverse than all the birds and mammals put together. This book can be read straight through with pleasure, but I also enjoy just opening it up at random for a quick bee blast.


Who am I?

Author and biologist Thor Hanson’s research activities have taken him around the globe. He has studied Central American trees and songbirds, nest predation in Tanzania, and the grisly feeding habits of African vultures, but bees rank among his favorite subjects of all. He wrote Buzz to explore their fascinating natural and cultural history. No other group of insects has grown so close to us, none is more essential, and none is more revered.


I wrote...

Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees

By Thor Hanson,

Book cover of Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees

What is my book about?

Bees are like oxygen: ubiquitous, essential, and, for the most part, unseen. While we might overlook them, they lie at the heart of relationships that bind the human and natural worlds. In Buzz, the beloved Thor Hanson takes us on a journey that begins 125 million years ago, when a wasp first dared to feed pollen to its young. From honeybees and bumbles to lesser-known diggers, miners, leafcutters, and masons, bees have long been central to our harvests, our mythologies, and our very existence. They've given us sweetness and light, the beauty of flowers, and as much as a third of the foodstuffs we eat. And, alarmingly, they are at risk of disappearing. As informative and enchanting as the waggle dance of a honeybee, Buzz shows us why all bees are wonders to celebrate and protect. Read this book and you'll never overlook them again.

A Sting in the Tale

By Dave Goulson,

Book cover of A Sting in the Tale: My Adventures with Bumblebees

Dave and I are old friends – we were PhD students together – and it’s been wonderful to see his career as a scientist and author develop over the last couple of decades. Probably no other single individual has had more of an influence on public opinion about pollinators, especially bumblebees. A Sting in the Tale is a fascinating and highly readable account of his research on these charismatic insects and his founding of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Informative, passionate, and amusing in equal proportions, just like the man himself! 


Who am I?

As a kid growing up in the northeast of England I became fascinated by the insects, flowers, birds, geology, and seashore life around me. That fascination with natural history never left me and I had the fortune to turn my childhood interests into a professional career as a research scientist, teacher, and writer. My work on pollinators and plants has taken me around the world, from the grasslands of Oxfordshire to the deserts of Namibia and the mountains of Nepal, from the rainforests of Brazil and Australia to the thorny shrublands of Tenerife. The result has been more than 135 articles plus a couple of books. I must get back to writing the next one…


I wrote...

Pollinators and Pollination: Nature and Society

By Jeff Ollerton,

Book cover of Pollinators and Pollination: Nature and Society

What is my book about?

A unique and personal insight into the ecology and evolution of pollinators, their relationships with flowers, and their conservation in a rapidly changing world.

The pollination of flowers by insects, birds, and other animals is a fundamentally important ecological function that supports both the natural world and human society. Without pollinators to facilitate the sexual reproduction of plants, the world would be a biologically poorer place in which to live, there would be an impact on food security, and human health would suffer. Written by one of the world’s leading pollination ecologists, this book provides an introduction to what pollinators are, how their interactions with flowers have evolved, and the fundamental ecology of these relationships.

The Urban Garden

By Kathy Jentz, Teri Speight,

Book cover of The Urban Garden: 101 Ways to Grow Food and Beauty in the City

Approximately eighty-three percent of folks in the U.S. live in cities. So, encouraging the greening of these artificial expanses is important to sustain us and all kinds of wildlife—birds, pollinators, even the soil biota. Consider this a gardening cookbook—with enticing recipes you’ll immediately want to go out and try. Whether it’s finding the space for growing, adding plants in an alley, or employing tactics to secure your fruits and flowers while living in close proximity with others, this book empowers readers to go out and garden, no matter where they live.


Who am I?

I’m a person who thinks gardening could be one of the most important endeavors anyone can do. I’m a writer, a speaker, and the recipient of eight Garden Communicators International media awards, including a Gold in 2021 for my column, “Rooting for You,” on the Hartley-Botanic Greenhouse website. My byline has appeared in numerous magazines such as Fine Gardening, Horticulture, Sunset, and This Old House. I’m always interested in great ideas for problem-solving in the garden.


I wrote...

The Healthy Garden: Simple Steps for a Greener World

By Kathleen Norris Brenzel, Mary-Kate Mackey,

Book cover of The Healthy Garden: Simple Steps for a Greener World

What is my book about?

This book connects how we garden in our own backyards with what happens outside our fences—in our communities, our public gardens, and our wild places. With the added advice of twenty horticultural experts and glorious garden photography, The Healthy Garden demonstrates how nourishing a more resilient landscape has the power to transform, not only the garden and the gardener, but also, the greater natural world. 

The Forgotten Pollinators

By Stephen L Buchmann, Gary Paul Nabhan, Paul Mirocha (illustrator)

Book cover of The Forgotten Pollinators

For me, this is the book that really started the current drive to conserve pollinators in our rapidly changing world. Other authors had written about bees in particular, and how pesticides and habitat destruction were affecting them, but Steve Buchmann and Gary Nabhan were the first to bring all of the evidence together for a wide range of pollinators, including hummingbirds and bats as well as insects. This was an enormously influential book that helped to shape public opinion, global policies, and actions around pollinator conservation. It also influenced the research direction, and subsequently professional careers, of many ecologists and naturalists, myself included.


Who am I?

As a kid growing up in the northeast of England I became fascinated by the insects, flowers, birds, geology, and seashore life around me. That fascination with natural history never left me and I had the fortune to turn my childhood interests into a professional career as a research scientist, teacher, and writer. My work on pollinators and plants has taken me around the world, from the grasslands of Oxfordshire to the deserts of Namibia and the mountains of Nepal, from the rainforests of Brazil and Australia to the thorny shrublands of Tenerife. The result has been more than 135 articles plus a couple of books. I must get back to writing the next one…


I wrote...

Pollinators and Pollination: Nature and Society

By Jeff Ollerton,

Book cover of Pollinators and Pollination: Nature and Society

What is my book about?

A unique and personal insight into the ecology and evolution of pollinators, their relationships with flowers, and their conservation in a rapidly changing world.

The pollination of flowers by insects, birds, and other animals is a fundamentally important ecological function that supports both the natural world and human society. Without pollinators to facilitate the sexual reproduction of plants, the world would be a biologically poorer place in which to live, there would be an impact on food security, and human health would suffer. Written by one of the world’s leading pollination ecologists, this book provides an introduction to what pollinators are, how their interactions with flowers have evolved, and the fundamental ecology of these relationships.

Field Guide to the Bees of Great Britain and Ireland

By Steven J Falk,

Book cover of Field Guide to the Bees of Great Britain and Ireland

This ground-breaking book was the first illustrated field guide to cover all of the more than 270 species of bees that occur in Great Britain and Ireland. It provides a detailed account of the natural history of these fascinating insects, plus photographs and taxonomic keys to help you to determine what they are. Be warned, however, as the author acknowledges, many bees are challenging to identify! Nonetheless, Falk and Lewington’s book is invaluable for anyone interested in the natural history of bees.


Who am I?

As a kid growing up in the northeast of England I became fascinated by the insects, flowers, birds, geology, and seashore life around me. That fascination with natural history never left me and I had the fortune to turn my childhood interests into a professional career as a research scientist, teacher, and writer. My work on pollinators and plants has taken me around the world, from the grasslands of Oxfordshire to the deserts of Namibia and the mountains of Nepal, from the rainforests of Brazil and Australia to the thorny shrublands of Tenerife. The result has been more than 135 articles plus a couple of books. I must get back to writing the next one…


I wrote...

Pollinators and Pollination: Nature and Society

By Jeff Ollerton,

Book cover of Pollinators and Pollination: Nature and Society

What is my book about?

A unique and personal insight into the ecology and evolution of pollinators, their relationships with flowers, and their conservation in a rapidly changing world.

The pollination of flowers by insects, birds, and other animals is a fundamentally important ecological function that supports both the natural world and human society. Without pollinators to facilitate the sexual reproduction of plants, the world would be a biologically poorer place in which to live, there would be an impact on food security, and human health would suffer. Written by one of the world’s leading pollination ecologists, this book provides an introduction to what pollinators are, how their interactions with flowers have evolved, and the fundamental ecology of these relationships.

Ladders to Heaven

By Mike Shanahan,

Book cover of Ladders to Heaven

This is a brilliant book. Mike Shanahan has done a wonderful job, weaving his meticulous research (he has a doctorate in rainforest ecology) into a highly engaging description of the importance of fig trees around the world, both in terms of their vital ecological functions and their importance to people.

It’s full of fascinating information: from the role figs have played in world religions and human cultures, to the raw materials they supply and the fact that they support more of the world’s animal and bird species than any other trees. 

Illustrated with beautiful black & white drawings, it explains why fig trees are so important to life on earth and how, with their extraordinary capacity to restore degraded lands, they can help create a better future for us all.


Who am I?

Trees have been important to me throughout my life. I was lucky to grow up surrounded by ancient woodland in the English countryside. When most of that woodland was felled in the 1970s it made me think deeply about the importance of plants to people. I was privileged later, to spend time with indigenous peoples in Latin America learning about what trees and plants mean to them. I now write about how plants are perceived and used. After several children's books I wrote Plants For People which describes the plants we use in our daily lives and Ancient Trees which celebrates tree species that live for over a thousand years.


I wrote...

Birch

By Anna Lewington,

Book cover of Birch

What is my book about?

Birch explores the cultural and environmental significance of birch trees across the northern hemisphere. Versatile and supremely useful, birches have played an important part in shaping both the natural environment and the culture of millions of people around the world. 

Beginning with an overview of the taxonomy and natural history of the genera, this well-illustrated book focuses on the multiple uses people have made of almost every part of these trees since ancient times - from their tough, waterproof bark, used for everything from basketry to medicines, to their sap, timber, roots, and leaves. It outlines the rich folklore and ancient beliefs associated with the trees and looks too at what the future may hold in store.

A Guide to Enjoying Wildflowers

By Donald, Lillian Stokes Stokes,

Book cover of A Guide to Enjoying Wildflowers

I get emotional every time I consult this book, which in my heart is a classic, never equaled in the world of flower guides before or since its publication back in 1985. Short chapters profile dozens of familiar meadow, forest, and roadside plants, from beloved wildflowers to those we consider weeds. In a confiding, chatty tone, we are introduced to each plant’s history and folklore, uses, habitat, and wild and garden relatives. Then, best of all, with “what you can observe,” the authors take a deeper dive. I learned how daisy-family flowers prevent inbreeding, how milkweed blooms kidnap their pollinators, and how emerging skunk cabbage plants generate enough heat to melt snow in their vicinity.


Who am I?

Hiking in the flower-covered hillsides of Central California as a nature-loving kid, I couldn’t help but wonder about my companions. One of my first purchases (with babysitting money!) was a wildflower guide. I’ve moved around the country many times and every time I’ve had to start over, make new plant acquaintances and discoveries—always an orienting process. Of course, I’ve also studied plants formally, in college and in my career, and (honestly, best of all) via mentors and independent study. All this has shown me that flowers are more than just beautiful! They’re amazingly diverse, and full of fascinating behaviors and quirks. In fact, they are essential parts of the complex habitats we share.


I wrote...

Seeing Flowers: Discover the Hidden Life of Flowers

By Teri Dunn Chace, Robert Llewellyn (photographer),

Book cover of Seeing Flowers: Discover the Hidden Life of Flowers

What is my book about?

Seeing Flowers is a visual feast that gloriously highlights 343 popular gardens and wildflowers. My collaborator Robert Llewellyn’s photographs are undeniably magnificent, but my job was the words. So I strove to really “see” each flower. His daring and unique images gave me the will to try!

My broad approach to “seeing” is what makes this book unique. Yes, I included the botany (distinguishing characteristics), biology (a flower’s relationships with other creatures, insects and more), and useful gardening info—and I made sure to use clear language that anyone could follow and enjoy. 

But the reader will also encounter fascinating tidbits, tales, and lore. Every living thing including flowers has context, history and stories, which I believe are rightfully part of the wide net of exploration and learning.

Taming Wildflowers

By Miriam Goldberger,

Book cover of Taming Wildflowers: Bringing the Beauty and Splendor of Nature's Blooms Into Your Own Backyard

Cut flower varieties have come to us from all over the world, yet many of the best are North American natives. Recent research (especially the books by Doug Tallamy) has shown the importance of growing native plants to support pollinators and birds. We should all commit to growing more native plants in our gardens, and Taming Wildflowers will lead the way. Miriam has produced an exquisite little book about growing native flowers in the landscape and using them in design work, especially wildflower weddings. You can find a list of plants native to your area on National Audubon Society’s Plants for Birds database, then consult Miriam’s book for detailed instructions on how to grow and use them in floral design.


Who am I?

As a farmer and a writer, I have devoted my career to organic vegetable and flower production. I founded Growing for Market, a national magazine for market farmers, and published a monthly column about cut flowers. I also grew flowers commercially for 25 years for florists, supermarkets, CSAs, and farmer's markets. I am obsessed with all things in the garden, but especially with the flowering plants, and I’m delighted to share my love of flowers with anyone who wants to learn more.


I wrote...

The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower's Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers

By Lynn Byczynski,

Book cover of The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower's Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers

What is my book about?

The Flower Farmer is an overview of growing cut flowers as a business or passionate hobby. It’s the first book most people read when starting a cut-flower business. It has also proven to be a great gift book — the ideal statement of solidarity for that person who longs to quit their job and start a career in gardening.

The Flower Farmer provides a solid foundation in the horticultural aspects of growing cut flowers, from variety selection to seed starting to cultivation. It offers detailed advice about the business of small-scale flower farming, including insider tips on potential markets such as florists, supermarkets, and farmer's markets. Finally, it provides essential information on growing, harvesting, and post-harvest handling of 100 types of flowers.

New book lists related to pollinators

All book lists related to pollinators

Bookshelves related to pollinators