Lost Hairy Bee ready to make a comeback

Hairy bee
Hairy bee

THE Rye area is set to see one of the biggest come backs for nearly a quarter of a century when a previously extinct bee makes a return on Monday.

Romney Marsh sees the first reintroduction of the short-haired bumblebee to the United Kingdom following their extinction in 1988.

Preparations have been made at the RSPB’s Dungeness reserve and farmland across the Romney Marsh to create wild flower-rich habitats ready for the reintroduction of the bees.

They died out in this country due to a decline of flower rich meadows.

The queen bees were collected from Sweden earlier this year and have been in quarantine at the Royal Holloway College. They have now been cleared as healthy for release.

The bees have been kept at a cool temperature on board an environmentally controlled van.

They will be released, on Monday by project manager Dr Nikki Gammans, who collected them from Skane, on the southern tip of Sweden.

It is expected that they will perch on her hands, soaking-up warmth from them before taking to our air space for the first time.

The field they will first be released in contains red clover, enticing the bees to their first British meal as they explore the nature reserve and the meadows specially managed for their anticipated arrival and survival.

RSPB Dungeness warden Natalie Holt said: “We have lost 97 percent of our meadows in the last 60 years which has had a devastating impact on our precious native bumblebees.

“We have been working with farmers in the area for the past three years to prepare flowering field margins and gives the bees the best possible start.”

The project is a collaboration between Hymettus, Natural England, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, the Skane County Administrative Board of Sweden, and the RSPB.

The partners will continue to work together over the next few years to re-establish the species in the UK and say Monday, while marking the conclusion of many months of hard work, is really just the beginning of this important endeavour to expand the specie’s range.