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Now, where’s the best place in the world to discover an entirely new species? 

Basically, your own garden. You may say, “Ah ha, there won’t be anything in my garden that hasn’t been discovered.” You would be amazed. In 1971, Jennifer Owen, a biologist, did a very long-term study of her ordinary garden in a suburban house in Leicester. She discovered 533 species of ichneumon wasp, just that family of parasitic wasp. Fifteen of these had never been recorded in Britain; four of them were completely new to science. In a suburban garden. So, in your garden, if you have a garden, there will be things.

Gilbert White, the naturalist, said that nature is so full and so varied that if you want to find the place with the most variety, it’s the place you most study. It almost doesn’t matter: Just take a piece of land and look at it hard enough.

- Stephen Fry, QI, G-series, Episode 1 “Gardens”


The above moment from QI has stuck with me for years: I think of it almost every time I am outside.

Accordingly, here are some of the bees I’ve observed in my garden. I’ve identified a few, but not with much confidence. I am hoping to get a proper book that goes into more depth about the 250+ species here in Denmark.

Red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius) on a chive (Allium schoenoprasum) blossom.

We have a colony of these here, so I must be doing something right. They are called ‘stenhumle’ (stone bumblebees) in Danish.

I’ve been doing my best to leave as much deadnettle and clover as possible, as those are their preferred forage plants.

You rush through our lives

Perched with hands
Black with unrefined oil
Choking back the seashore
The filthy stench of boiling tar
The honey bee says
We go the way of the dinosaurs
We’re taking you with us
We’ll always be bees
But you are zombies
This is a simple way to remember
Wake up or it is the end

Michael Baumgart