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Nov 2015
A Sting in the Tail - Dave Goulson - Jonathan Cape, 2013 (Kindle edition)

* * * * *
It says a lot for the basic decency of my next-door neighbours that we are still on speaking terms, given that we have diametrically opposed views on what constitutes a good back yard. They have recently turned theirs into a wall-to-wall paved patio with an admittedly attractive sun motif but not a green shoot in sight. My garden, on the other hand, is messy and weedy, with unkempt lawns that are only fifty percent grass and plants with a tendency to grow like topsy until I get around to pruning them back. There is a reason for my neglect, which is that I am trying to make my garden a resource for wildlife in general, and in particular for my favourite insect, the bumblebee. I consider it a real achievement that last year I had a nest of them under my rotting garden shed, though it was rather alarming to see them drifting around the doorway in a vaguely threatening manner when I went to get out the lawnmower.

My enthusiasm, however, is as nothing compared to that of Dave Goulson, who has not only made a career of studying bumblebees but has founded the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to promote them. I knew that we would get on when he mentioned Gerald Durrell's Corfu Trilogy as one of his formative influences, and his writing style is similarly autobiographical and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. Unlike Durrell however, Goulson is an academic and brings a scientist's rigour and clarity to his descriptions of bumblebee life and its many mysteries.
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