For every taste and budget, a paperback

Earthly Pleasures: Tales from a Biologist's Garden, by Roger B. Swain. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 198 pp. $5.95.

Why read about wild bees? Because, biologist and essayist Roger Swain reasons , by becoming more familiar with the familiar, our daily lives are enriched. We're likely to run into wild bees far more often than black holes. And once we learn that honeybees in a swarm are unusually docile -- that it's even possible to reach into a swarm, scoop out a handful, and throw a tidy ''bee ball'' several yards -- wild bees suddenly are more interesting to us.

Author Swain has another reason for wanting to write about the common oddities of the great outdoors and the intriguing indoors: ''Exploring the science of the familiar also brings a sense of optimism about the future, for in the elaborateness of life one soon perceives a resiliency.''

Readers of Horticulture magazine already know Roger Swain well. For those who are just being introduced, this collection of essays on maple sugaring and duckweed, tree bark and cowslips should mark the start of a long and happy friendship.

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