The first batch of the short-haired bumblebee Bombus subterraneus are due for release at RSPB Dungeness tomorrow, Monday 28th May. The event is due to be captured live on BBC Breakfast TV.
For more info on the reintroduction project see the latest Guardian article below:
Bumblebee lost to UK makes comeback on Dungeness shingle
Natural History Museum scientist leads reintroduction of Bombus subterraneus with insects imported from Sweden
The view is bordered by an airport, an army firing range, a sewage treatment plant and Dungeness nuclear power station, but Nikki Gammans hopes that the whole field looks like one gigantic banquet of flowering plants to a short-haired bumblebee.
In 1988 a scientist from the Natural History Museum saw a short-haired bumblebee, Bombus subterraneus, sitting on a pile of shingle. The species was already rare but he had no reason to think it was a historic encounter. In fact, the bee was never seen again and was declared extinct in the UK 12 years ago.
That status should now be changing. On Monday Gammans will take a small plastic box from the fridge in her camper van, and a group of slightly puzzled Swedish short-haired queens will tumble out into the Kent sunshine. The hope is that they make a beeline for the red clover, white dead nettle, yellow flag, tufted vetches and eggs-and-bacon, all bursting into bloom after a week of May sunshine.
“We hope, we believe, this is the absolutely perfect spot for them,” Gammans said. “It has everything they like. There is no reason why they shouldn’t thrive – they’re pretty tough girls.
“This is a flagship project, a scientific first, but also a symbol that it isn’t all hopeless: we don’t have to stand by helplessly watching species and habitat being lost.” [Read full article]