Conservationists say sightings of short-haired bumblebees at a nature reserve in south-east England mean a project to reintroduce the extinct species to the UK is seeing success. Amy Pollock has more.
There's a buzz around this quiet nature reserve in south-east England. It's the sound of the once-locally extinct short-haired bumble bee. A project to reintroduce the species is seeing success, with consistent sightings of worker bees among the wildflowers. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROJECT MANAGER OF SHORT-HAIRED BUMBLE BEE PROJECT, DR NIKKI GAMMANS, SAYING: "What we've been doing is working with over 70 farmers and 25 landowners to recreate and improve the management of wildflower meadows. And it's because of this loss of wildflower meadows - we've lost over 97 percent in the UK - is the reason why many of our insect pollinators are declining so we needed to restore this habitat in order to bring back this bee." The collaboration between UK conservation charities takes queen bees from Sweden and releases them in the carefully managed meadows at Dungeness. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROJECT MANAGER OF SHORT-HAIRED BUMBLE BEE PROJECT, DR NIKKI GAMMANS, SAYING: "In Sweden, the population is growing and increasing and it's stable, so we are able to collect queens emerging from hibernation and bring them back to the UK." Like other bumblebees and insect pollinators, the short-haired species have been under threat for many years and were declared extinct in the UK in 2000. If the short-haired bumblebees here continue to thrive, the conservationists hope to replicate their success in the UK and further afield. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROJECT MANAGER OF SHORT-HAIRED BUMBLE BEE PROJECT, DR NIKKI GAMMANS, SAYING: "So what we want to do is reintroduce this bumble bee as a flagship for bumble bees, bee conservation but also insect pollination." Nearly 2,500 acres of wildflower meadows in the region are attracting the furry pollinators. And conservationists are encouraging gardeners to do their bit by planting nectar rich plants like lavender.