Queen B. subterraneus - Nikki
The 2011 Project Report is
The short-haired bumblebee, Bombus
subterraneus, was once widespread across the south of England, occurring
as far north as Humberside, but post-1950’s its population distribution
became isolated and patchy. This bee was last recorded in the UK in 1988
near to Dungeness, Kent and officially declared extinct in 2000.
The short-haired bumblebee project
involves Hymettus working in partnership with Natural England, RSPB and
Bumblebee Conservation Trust with the aim of reintroducing Bombus
subterraneus back to the UK. In order for a successful reintroduction to
take place suitable forage habitat must be in place around the planned
initial release site of Dungeness and Romney Marsh. The project also aims to
engage the public in bumblebee conservation more generally, locally through
outreach events and nationally through various media.
To date the project has had enormous
success with bumblebee habitat creation and improvement prior to the
reintroduction of B. subterraneus. The project has created, advised
and assisted in the management of over 550 hectares of flower rich habitat
within the release site of Dungeness and Romney Marsh. This has involved
working closely with farmers, conservation groups, small holders and other
Worker B. subterraneus - Andy Tibbs
The project originally intended to
reintroduce this bumblebee from New Zealand where it was deliberately
introduced for the pollination of clover crops over 120 years ago. However,
there have been problems with captive rearing and hibernation of queen bees
in New Zealand. Also, the results of genetic analysis of the B.
subterraneus population in New Zealand show high levels of inbreeding
are present potentially reducing the fitness of any reintroduced stock.
Therefore the decision has been made to change the source of the
reintroduced bees from New Zealand to Sweden. Sweden is the only country
with a strong population of B. subterraneus within its native range.
An initial visit to Sweden was made in May 2011 to establish population
numbers and to collect animals for disease screening to any attempt to move
the bees. The project is hoping for its first release of translocated bees
For regular updates on the
short-haired bumblebee project visit the BBCT
To donate to the project please
here and type
‘short-haired bumblebee project’ in the comment box when making your