A groundbreaking project will bring a bumblebee not seen in Britain for 24 years back to our shores this week. A team of conservationists have used bee nets to collect 100 short haired bumblebee queens from Sweden, which they will bring home in special vials.

The Bombus subterraneus will be kept in quarantine at the University of London, before being released at the RSPB’s Dungeness reserve in Kent, later this spring. In 1988, the area was the bee’s last stronghold, before it was driven into extinction by a lack of wildflower meadows.

The project will encourage the queens to re-colonise farmland in the south east, and is a partnership between Natural England, the RSPB, Hymettus and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Project Officer Dr Nikki Gammans described it as ‘very exciting’, adding that the aim is to ‘restore a lost piece of the jigsaw for our countryside.’

* Subscribe to Country Life and save 40%

For more news like this, see next week’s Town and Country News pages, out in the shops on Wednesday May 2