Busy on cotoneaster, moving through a warm breeze and a yellowed, evening sun.

A fat queen, robbing comfrey nectar; brazenly, gently bending stems.

Lunch with the car door open. A tired bumblebee on the dashboard. I fumbled at the smartphone for a quick recording between mouthfuls of spaghetti, comedic and utterly out of place in the industrial estate.

Boxwood, climbing roses and little pots of flowers in a knot garden. As I remember it, the tree bumblebee was biscuit-brown, black and white against a pink rose.

Hundreds of them, above a vehicle loading bay. They were unnoticed on lavender; unexpected and welcome on the edge of the shopping mall.

A nest on the river’s edge.

One morning, over the sounds of Birmingham City, I heard subtle scratches of feet over dried leaves.


My ongoing search for bumblebee sounds has its roots in a deeply personal, childhood experience in Northern Ireland. This is best described in ‘Of Bumblebees and the Homeland Compass’ (itself a reflection on roots), originally published in issue eight of Freckle Magazine.

I am very grateful to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership for their continued support.