Monday, 29 August 2011

Extinct bumblebee to be reintroduced to Britain

Scientists are planning to release around 60 short-haired bumblebee queens into wild flower meadows in an attempt to re-establish the species in this country.

The rare insect, which is also known by its scientific name of Bombus subterraneus, has not been seen in the UK since 1988 when it was spotted in a meadow in Dungeness, Kent.
The queens to be reintroduced have been imported from Sweden. The first crop of the fertilised insects are currently being screened for disease, before being released into meadows in southern England in the spring. Other releases are likely to follow.
Dr Mark Brown, a senior lecturer in biology at Royal Holloway who is involved in the scheme, said: "These insects have been declining across Europe due to the changes in agricultural practice that have seen the decline in flower-rich wild meadows.
"While other species of bumblebee have been declining, this is one that we have lost and we are aiming to bring it back. They tend to specialise in feeding on flowers like red clover so as meadows have disappeared so have the bees.

By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent

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