Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Bumblebee, extinct in UK, breeding again after reintroduction

Experts celebrate as extinct bumblebee show first signs of comeback
September 2013. A bumblebee species driven to extinction in the UK has nested for the first time in a quarter of a century. The short-haired bumblebee disappeared from our shores in the 1980s and a mission to reintroduce it was launched at the RSPB Dungeness reserve in Kent. After two releases of queen bees at the site experts have now recorded offspring worker bees for the first time.

Dr Nikki Gammans, who leads the project, said: "This is a milestone for the project and a real victory for conservation. We now have proof that this bumblebee has nested and hatched young and we hope it is on the way to becoming a self-supporting wild species in the UK once again.

"It's been a long journey to get here, from creating the right habitat for them, collecting queens in the Swedish countryside, scanning them for diseases and then eventually releasing them at Dungeness. Seeing worker bees for the first time is a fantastic reward for all that hard work, but we still have a way to go to ensure this population is safe and viable.

25 UK species of bumble bee
"Bumblebees are among the most threatened wildlife in the UK - we have 25 species, seven are declining and two have been declared extinct. The State of Nature report launched in May highlighted the short-haired bumblebee project as a beacon of hope for nature so we're very proud to have recorded the first signs of success."

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