There are an estimated 24 species of bumblebees in the UK, an alarming eight of which are threatened with extinction. Among these diminishing breeds is the rare shorthaired bumblebee, which had previously vanished from the English countryside back in 1988.

However, a project run by Natural England has sought to gently reintroduce this short-haired bumblebee back into its old habitat.

Over a two-year period, expert conservationists have been reintroducing shorthaired bees from Sweden to settle in the RSPB’s reserve in Dungeness, Kent. However, the first release of queen bees back in 2012 failed to instigate an increase in numbers; this was thought to be due to the unwelcomingly wet weather conditions of that particular summer.

But this year’s weather looks so much more promising for the effort. Dr Nikki Gammans, the project officer, reported: ‘The signs are good- there are lots of wild flowers coming into bloom thanks to the work of the local faming community and gardeners.

‘With short-haired bumblebee workers being spotted last year and a new batch ready to go out, there are high hopes for the future of the species’.

The next batch of queens have been collected from Sweden and are ready for release, and there is hope that this summer will offer the perfect conditions for the new queens to settle in Britain, offering hope for bumblebees across the UK.

Image copyright Nikki Gammans

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