Registered Charity No. 1124636
Hymettus Ltd is the premier source of advice on the conservation of bees, wasps and ants within Great Britain and Ireland.
 
Home

News

History

Information sheets

Projects

Reports

Formica exsecta

Short-haired Bumblebee Project

Fundraising

BWARS
 


THE SHORT-HAIRED BUMBLEBEE Bombus subterraneus
 


Queen B. subterraneus - Nikki Gammans

The 2011 Project Report is available for download here

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 land owners.

 


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 in 2012.

Progress Report 2013

For regular updates on the short-haired bumblebee project visit the BBCT Project Page

RSPB Project page

Natural England Project page

To donate to the project please click: here  and type ‘short-haired bumblebee project’ in the comment box when making your donation:

 


Farm events - photos by Rob Fowler and Nikki Gammans