The Short-haired bumblebee reintroduction

Amazing event yesterday. I am so happy to have been invited to the Short-haired bumblebee (Bombus subterraneus) reintroduction event at the stunning Dungeness National Nature Reserve. Thank you Nikki Gammons for organising it. Here is a quick summary of the exciting day.

We first set off bright and early and arrived at Dungeness with time to meet the team. Saw old friends including Gemma Baron and enjoyed a catch up (congratulations again Dr Gemma Baron!). Nikki mobilised the team and set our destinations for the release sites (patches of white dead nettle, red clover, foxgloves and thrift).

Some of the release team

Some of the release team

Vic and Gemma identified a good release site and released our first queen who eagerly started to forage on the red clover. We recorded her activities and found the red clover seemed to be preferred over bird’s-foot trefoil, vetch and buttercup.

The first flower for this queen bumblebee on UK soil

The first flower for this queen bumblebee on UK soil

The second queen release was a star! She foraged for a recording breaking 44 minutes, and not the least bit camera shy. She bounced from patch to patch, stopped for a quick groom before she departed swiftly across the reserve and out of sight.

The second queen release

The second queen release

The third queen in our group foraged on bird’s-foot trefoil but quickly decided red clover was more preferred. The reserve was in bloom with lots on offer for these bees. Other bumblebees such as the Buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris), the Garden bumblebee (Bombus hortorum) and the Brown-banded carder bee (Bombus humilis) were seen in the area.

The third queen release

The third queen release

It is amazing to think how far these bumblebees have travelled. Starting in Sweden, quarantined briefly with a full health check at Royal Holloway University of London and then brought to their new home at Dungeness. It felt like history in our hands. A real honour and privilege.

Wishing the Short-haired bumblebee reintroduction project a successful future ahead.

One happy queen

One happy queen

For further information on the project see: http://bumblebeeconservation.org/about-us/case-study/short-haired-bumblebee-reintroduction/

And here: http://www.bumblebeereintroduction.org/2015-queen-release-completed-1st-june/

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