Margaret Anne Adams’ Book Launch: The Review.

I was very excited earlier in the year to know that Margaret Anne was taking on the challenge of filling the gap in beekeeping books by producing one on how to make pollen slides and identify the grains under a microscope in an easy to understand and uncomplicated way.

Margaret Anne and I met a few year ago on a microscopy course and she inspired me to delve further into insect biology by recommending Insect Physiology by V.B Wigglesworth which I duly bought cheaply second hand and find very useful. We have been friends since and Margaret is also a reader and great supporter of the Beelistener blog. We communicate by email about bees and I’m proud to be writing a review on a new beekeeping best seller.

That Margaret Anne should produce this wonderful book in under a year when she is already dealing with serious personal health challenges is even more impressive and a testimony to her tenacious and indomitable spirit.


Pollen Grains & Honeydew: A guide for identifying the plant sources in honey.

Author: Margaret Anne Adams with contributions from Christine Coulsting & Alan Riach.

Published: 2021 by Northern Bee Books, Hebden Bridge.

ISBN: 978-1-914934-23-0

Pages: 349

Cost: £28:95.

Pollen Grains & Honeydew by Margaret Anne Adams is about how to collect pollen from flowers, pollen loads and honey samples and make your own pollen slides enabling you to identify the plant sources and build up your own reference library of local forage. The book provides comprehensive lists of all the equipment required, and gives the basic instructions for using it. There are useful tips for storing the equipment, and turning the beekeeper’s kitchen into a mini-lab with attendant health and safety issues to be aware of.

As well as using a pollen slide reference library to identify pollens in honey, it is possible to do so without this and contributor Christine Coulsting explains how to identify pollen grains in honey by other means. Coulsting gives a good detailed account of the physical features and characteristics of pollen as well as tips on identification. 

This book is a labour of love and the collaboration of beekeepers working together to learn more about where their bees are foraging. It was conceived on the Scottish Facebook page where Adams captivated and piqued the interests of beekeepers by posting photographs of pollens she had identified. Over a couple of years, Adams analysed honey samples sent by followers and this book contains a record of these findings in masterfully executed illustrations and text.

Alan Riach contributes a short section on determining the composition of honey by measuring proportions of the different pollen grains in a sample. This is a useful tool to have in considering  correctly labelled mono floral honeys.

This book contains an introduction with acknowledgements. There are 7 sections with a contents index, and a personal names index to identify contributors.

Practical procedures are explained well, and the section on how to calibrate the eyepiece graticule, in order to measure pollen grains, is lucid and uncomplicated making it easy for people not familiar with microscopy to understand.

The wide range of plants and pollens recorded and described gives the reader a useful and comprehensive reference book. I like the way the book is attractively set out with the illustrations on the right- hand page and text on the left. Pollen grain size and features are labelled along with plant parts and botanical features Most of the pictures are clear and focussed. The author has painstakingly photographed many individual pollen grains from different angles, some of which make it difficult to obtain clearly focussed images under a microscope.

That it was sold out by Christmas demonstrates the popularity of Pollen Grains & Honeydew which is about to be reprinted. The typographical errors in the first edition will be resolved.

This book will be of great interest to the curious beekeeper wanting to learn more about local available forage and nutrition for honey bees, as well as the pollen sources of honey produced. It will be of interest also to naturalists, environmentalists, botanists and many others because pollens reflect the biodiversity of our environment, and the state of agriculture and plant life. Given that 2022 is to be the year of biodiversity this is a timely book release.

For those studying the modular beekeeping examination systems in the UK, this is essential reading because it is the first book to provide both detailed instructions on making a pollen slide reference library, and illustrations with features of common plants in the UK. Every local beekeeping association library will want a copy of this book, and it will be recommended reading for beekeeping microscopy courses. Scottish schools offering National 5 Curriculum beekeeping courses, and beekeeping clubs will clamour for copies.

Happy New Year.

I wish you all a safe and happy New Year and I look forward to sharing more information with you next year.

24 thoughts on “Margaret Anne Adams’ Book Launch: The Review.”

  1. Thank you for this amazing review, Ann. I’m grateful for the list of typos you gave me and the text refinements you suggested as you read the book; these and othertext improvements will be incorporated into the reprint. As Jeremy Burbidge of Northern Beebooks said to me, when I was reluctant to part with the book in early December, “Writing a book is like the Forth Bridge; you can always find things to improve. You have to draw a line at some point”. As time is short, I want the text details, in the reprint, to be as flawless as I can possible make them. Happy New Year 2022 to all the people who enjoy Ann’s wonderful Blog.

    1. Happy New Year Margaret. I hope you are resting up a bit after your marathon endeavour, and enjoying noting the great interest and attention being paid to your lovely book. Thank you for filling the space in the beekeeping bookshelf. We have been waiting a long time for such a book and perhaps it will inspire beekeepers to pay more attention to honey bee nutrition which is even more important to bee health than is commonly understood.

      1. Yes, it is lovely to see so many people appreciating our work. Northern Bee Books have produced a high quality book which opens nicely for the readers. Happy New year, to you and your family, Ann. You are so right; top of the list of atributes, when looking for a apiary site, is the quality of the available forage, all year round. Christine Coulsting saw her bees bring in pollen loads yesterday, 31st December! We what we eat and the same applies to our bees.

  2. There we go, again! In my reply I should have written ‘other text..’ and Northern Bee Books, all three words with a capital letter.

  3. Thank you Ann.
    Margaret’s flower studies are beautiful. I hope the book will inspire other beekeepers to take a closer look at the flowers their bees are foraging on and have a go at making pollen slides for themselves. Whilst working on my own plant and pollen project, I was regularly amazed at how complex and fascinating some of the flowers were once viewed under a microscope or hand lens. A hidden world waiting to be seen!

    1. Hello Christine and thank you for commenting, and, of course for contributing your valuable section and documenting your own challenging journey to find out what plants unrecognisable pollen grains come from. All the best for your own ongoing studies.

  4. Thank you Ann. This is just what I have been looking for. This was on my wish list for Christmas but did not materialise perhaps because it was already sold out. I will order today and presumably will receive a second edition in due course.

    On a course last summer I was in awe of the spreadsheet Christine has developed for her project when we met on a course.

    There is no better way to learn than to study the masters.

    Happy New Year.

    1. Happy New Year to you too, Richard, and all the best for your own studies. You will enjoy using this book which is written sensitively knowing how difficult the subject can be for some when you first approach it. A lot of the books previously available on the subject give good information but are not so comprehensive, and the writers not well skilled at giving simple explanations for things.

  5. My daughter bought me this book for Christmas from Northern Bee Books. I have to say it is brilliant and really inspired me to get cracking again with the microscope. Margaret makes everything so easy to understand. It’s the book I have been waiting for and very helpful if you are wanting to learn about which pollen your bees are collecting and which is in your honey. Thank you

    1. You were lucky to get a copy before it sold out before Christmas, Christine. Thank you for endosrsing this useful book. I agree with you about how easy it is to understand the instructions, and what is involved with this fascinating part of beekeeping.

    2. Thank you, Christine. I hope you have a lot of enjoyment making your pollen slides and go on to discover some of the same pollens in the honey you extract. Christine Coulsting noticed her bees were already bringing in pollen loads yesterday; so we can start looking for the flowers in bloom from now on. Have fun! 🙂

    1. Hello Oktay, that is something for the future, but I have not discussed it with the publisher yet. I will update you when that happens. The book will be available on Amazon in the UK, the USA, Canada and Australia in a few days time and I expect the Kindle option will be in the pipeline before long. Thanks you for your question. 🙂

      1. Thank you very much for your reply. I will be impatiently waiting. I hope that it will be one of the source books that I will use for my thesis.

        1. Have you chosen the line of research you want to pursue of your thesis yet, Oktay? I hope my book will help in some way, and that you enjoy the next three years.

          1. Evet, geniş bir alandaki balların fizikokimyasal ve palinolojik özellikleri olacak. Teşekkür ederim

  6. So are you looking for the common physical, chemical and palynological properties of the different sorts of honey from a particular region of Turkey, oktay?

      1. No worries, oktay, Ann and I are always up for a challenge. Good luck with your thesis – I hope you find out something new and enjoy the research. Keep in touch.

  7. Funny – after having been inspired by the article in the latest issue of the BBKA News I dusted off both my two microscopes and started to build a library off pollen pictures. But the book recommended in the article (and that I of course bought) turned out to be quite out of date in regards to more modern methods. But I have now ordered Anne’s book and look forward to use it to help me in this new hobby of mine – pollen microscopy. A good thing actually that I have a bad cold so had to stay in bed for a couple of days, using the time to read up on beekeeping blogs, finding all kinds of useful stuff.

    1. Yes, life is strange – the way one thing leads to another, in unexpected ways. I hope you find the book is ‘just what you need’ for your new hobby, Paul. Let us know how you get on.

      1. I’m sure it will help me a lot. OK, I will make a review on Good Reads when I have read it properly, and notify you as well.

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