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more on Bees~


By Arlene


From the Guardian
British conservationists have drawn up plans to repopulate the countryside with a species of bumblebee that was declared extinct here nearly a decade ago.

The short-haired bumblebee officially died out in the UK in 2000, but descendents of the doomed community live on in small pockets of New Zealand, where they were taken to pollinate red clover in the late 19th century.

If the project is a success, it will mark the first time bees have been reintroduced to any country after the indigenous population died out.

Bumblebees and honeybees have been in decline nationwide in recent years. Bumblebees have suffered a dramatic loss of natural habitat, including wild flower and hay meadows, while disease and parasites have wiped out colonies of honeybees.

Scientists at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust will visit MacKenzie County in New Zealand’s south island this autumn, and spend up to two months hunting and capturing queen bees as they emerge from hibernation. The area is one of the last strongholds of short-haired bumblebees in New Zealand.

Any queens that are netted will be reared in captivity on the island, by feeding them nectar and pollen collected from a variety of flowers. The queens will have mated before being caught, and can lay enough eggs to produce a colony of hundreds of sterile worker bees. Details of the project are unveiled at the British Science Association festival in Guildford today.

Scientists hope some of the bumblebee colonies raised in captivity will grow large enough to produce a second generation of queen bees. These will be flown back to Britain during the hibernation season and could be released into their new habitat in Dungeness in Kent as early as next spring.

“It’s going to be difficult, but this might be our last chance,” said Ben Davill, director of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

The short-haired bumblebee is one of two species to be declared extinct in Britain in the past 70 years, the other being Cullum’s bumblebee. The insects have been hit hard by changes in agriculture, which have seen crop farmers replace nitrogen-replacing clover leys with fertiliser and hay meadows with silage.

The majority of Britain’s remaining 24 bumblebee species are able to feed on a wide range of flowers, but the short-haired bumblebee is a more fussy eater and only visits a few types of flower that produce high quality pollen.

Nikki Gammans, who is running the reintroduction project, has been working with local farmers, landowners and the public in Kent to restore the habitat in Dungeness by ensuring it has enough flowers to sustain the bees when they are released. “We are doing our best for this and all bumblebee species and hopefully they can do the rest,” said Gammans.


More blog posts by Arlene


Next post: Wisley Show Saturday Sept 12th



I do hope they achieve this, Dungerness is very open! also surely the gardens in the area to also need grow these flowers so that the seeds have a chance to spread further afield. Lets hope it excites the public imagination as then it tends to catch on. Does red clover grow easily?

8 Sep, 2009


I think Clover spreads well and is the devil to get rid of so hopefully this may work!

8 Sep, 2009


Great blog Arlene as where would any garden be without them ..sad that they need to be re introduced but lucky to have colonies elsewhere in the world to draw upon .

This not likely to be the case for some insects and animals we lose but get a general feeling that people are becoming more concerned and devoting areas of their garden to all wildlife.

8 Sep, 2009


~I am planning to buy some wildflower seed inc clover and may try to grow a raised bed next year~if we all grew some it would help!

8 Sep, 2009


Perhaps clover lawns will become fashionable.

8 Sep, 2009


~wouldn't be so hard to keep up! apparently a light trim encourages growth!

8 Sep, 2009


I try with my messy garden believe me ..sadly the things we regard as weeds the insects and wildlife seem to love have lots of purple flowered hedge woundwort which not pretty but the bees just love it .

Loads of ivy over walls and through trees birds butterflies and insects get so much from it from cover to flowers to eating the black seed pods ..

8 Sep, 2009


This is great news where I use to live there were loads of the red clover all over my garden when I moved I missed it. Thanks Arlene

8 Sep, 2009


~you are an example to follow BB and Jane~ have you heard from David?

8 Sep, 2009


I have lots of clover in my lawns (more clover than grass I think). Dungeness is not far from me so maybe some of these little bees will visit me. Sounds a very interesting project. Hope it is successful.

8 Sep, 2009


I hope its a great success Arlene......otherwise it wont be long before we are in serious trouble ........We need them desperately.......

9 Sep, 2009


We can only hope that suitable precautions are taken for their introduction!
I would like to point out that the article is not 100% accurate the black british honeybee died out a hundred years or so ago, with the introduction of higher yeilding NZ and Aussie bees giving them intensive competition, these introduced bees did very well here but were dieing off in the winters so a monk (forget his name now) introduced the african black bee to cross breeed with them to produce a hardier strain, this was in the huge apiaries of Buckfast Abbey, these bees had a mite come along with them that has subsequently decimated our bee stocks , the mites name is VARROA. you will not see a native honey bee they do not exist anymore as bees cross breed very easily at best there may be a mongrel strain or two left far to the north and well away from the new bees flight zones.
I wish them luck but I hope for all our native bumbles left that the introductions planned are CLEAN !!

9 Sep, 2009


~|surely they will check before bringing them in? you would think so!

9 Sep, 2009


They didnt the last time and we paid a horrendous price for it, I kept bees then and lost the lot in one fell swoop, negating hundreds of £s worth of investment in equipment etc I do not agree with this transplantation of species ,mankind is messing with the natural order again, If it hadnt been for intensive agri practices and the indescriminate use of pesticides and herbicides we would not have lost the bees in the first place, for the remedy then to be placed in the hands of "wellmeaning" volunteers who self police themselves is foolhardy in the extreme!
I dont want to be a damp blanket on this ,for I love bee's and what they can and do do for us, but we can ill afford another disaster!
Better to leave it as is and put serious pressure on the govt to stop GM crops coming in through the "back door" as they are beginning to do, which willl lead to the loss of many many species including inevitably us
GM is a con the makers of the pest/herbicides made for them own the PATENT o the seed thats grown and profit all round from the decimation to our wildlife that will see us stripped of diversity in a generation. Ask some of the canadians on here what happened to their wildlife as it was introduced there...literally Armageddon!
Tell the govts to stop messing it all up NOW!

9 Sep, 2009


Interesting blog! I had no idea that several bee species native to the UK had become extinct.

This year I have seen more bees than ever coming to the flowers on my balcony! I've seen honey bees & bumblebees. I taught my 2 year old granddaughter to say "Bumblebee" this summer! Now when she wants to go out into the "garden", as she calls our balcony, she always tells me when she sees a bee.

It seems that the 5 baskets of Fuchsias, as well as the two standards, are what brought so many to the balcony this year.

9 Sep, 2009

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