THE release of a previously extinct bumblebee in the Rye area on Monday was a great succcess say conservationists.
Fifty short-haired queens were released into the wildflower meadows specially prepared for them at Dungeness Nature Reserve on a glorious sunny day, as part of the reintroduction backed by Natural England, the RSPB and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.
The bees died out due to a loss of their natural wildflower meadow habitat.
The queen bees re-introduced to the Rye area this week were collected, under careful conditions, from Sweden by bee experts.
The news weas welcomed by Kent and Sussex Euro MP Peter Skinner who has been campaigning for the protection of bee populations and has called for a ban on potentially damaging neonicotinoid pesticides - his written declaration securing over 100 signatures in the European Parliament.
Peter Skinner said: “This is a wonderful project to reintroduce a bee species which had been lost to Britain. Bees are hugely important to the Kent and Sussex environment and rural economies.
“Bees are in trouble and need our help. Habitat loss and the increasing use of chemicals pose a threat to their future. I’m calling for a ban on certain pesticides which have been linked to declining numbers. With the backing of over 100 MEPs this is an issue right across Europe and we will be campaigning together. It’s time for plan Bee.”
Now visitors to Dungeness Nature Reserve will be able to get a piece of the action by joining in one of the special events being run as part of Bee Fest.
Starting this weekend, and for the next nine days there will be a series of guided walks, talks and family activities, including buzzy bee walks, making bee homes and a bee trail and quiz.
Christine Hawkins, RSPB Visitor Centre Manager said: “What a fantastic and exciting experience it was to witness the return of the short-haired bumblebee to Dungeness, where it was last seen nearly 25 years ago.
“We’ve worked hard both here on site and with local farmers to encourage the pollen and nectar rich wild flowers that bumblebees rely on and we’ve already seen the effect it has had on other species.
“England’s rarest bumblebee, the shrill carder bee, has returned to the Dungeness RSPB reserve after a 25 year absence and the large garden bumblebee has come back after ten years.”
“The partnership will closely monitor how the bees take to their new surroundings and over the summer months, surveys will be carried out to determine bee numbers and to see if they are exploring beyond the release site.
“You can come along and join in the Dungeness Bee Fest between 2 and 10 June, from 11am to 4.30pm each day.
Full details can be found on our website at: www.rspb.org.uk/dungeness or by contacting the reserve on email@example.com or 01797 320588.”
RSPB Dungeness reserve is located one mile out of Lydd on the Dungeness Road. Turn right for the main site and the visitor centre and car park are one mile along the entrance track.