I read a sad little news story the other day in between the sad and huge news stories about flooding in England. English bumblebees are becoming rare.

Bumblebees are not honeybees (although they do produce honey); they are the large, amiable, furry creatures about an inch long that, well, bumble about from flower to flower in England. We have something very similar (and even huger) in Maryland where I live, a place that is particularly blessed in flying insects, bees, pretend-bees, and things that will sting you as soon as look at you.

Talking of which, here’s the business end of a bumblebee, and unlike honeybees, they can sting you more than once. So even though they look delightfully furry, it’s not a good idea to pet them.

And it’s not only bumblebees that are endangered. In all, about fifty varieties of native bees in England have become extinct recently, and the reason is mostly the loss of hedgerows. A habitat for many species of plants, animals, and birds, these plantings were often centuries old, marking ancient land boundaries, and many have been destroyed by modern agribusiness. If you travel in the English countryside you can see the scars of hedgerows destroyed to make larger fields.

But the good news is that the bumblebee has moved into the ‘burbs. It’s English gardens, crammed with flowering plants, that will help the bumblebee survive.

And now for the Regency tie-in. Well, there were a lot more flying critters around then. Surely someone has written an entomologist or beekeeper hero or heroine? Anyone got any good bee or bug stories?

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