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Extinct bumblebee returns to England

Posted 28 May 2012
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Extinct bumblebee returns to England
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As the summer weather returns to Britain, the countryside will once again become a vibrant, colourful habitat for thriving communities of insects and animals.

The country's insect population will balloon and if you go walking of a weekend you will no doubt encounter a vast array of species.

Even some of the UK's rarest species, such as the adder, will be regular sights on the trails of various national parks.

And the summer months are when many of the national parks' and nature reserves' conservation efforts start to pay off and this year will be no different for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), which has re-introduced a previously-extinct bumblebee into its Dungeness nature reserve.

Known as the short-haired bumblebee, the Bombus subterraneus dropped off the radar in the UK back in 1988 after numbers of the insect declined dramatically in the second half of the 20th century. The Dungeness and Romney Marshes in Kent were the last places the bee was spotted by keen-eyed walkers.

In 2000, the species was declared extinct. However, the RSPB has teamed up with Natural England, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Hymettus to re-introduce the productive insect.

The insects will be closely monitored over the coming months and scientists will see if the creatures manage to spread and colonise other areas of the British countryside. Prior to their decline, the short-haired bumblebee could be found as far north as Yorkshire.

RSPB Conservation director Martin Harper said: "This area was the last place the short-haired bumblebee was recorded before it disappeared 24 years ago so it is very exciting to see it finally coming home.

"But this is just the start - we will all be working hard to make sure this, and other threatened bumblebee species, expand their ranges and recolonise south eastern England."

The re-introduction of bee colonies in Europe and the US has become a pressing concern as colony collapse disorder has increased markedly since the turn of the century and is threatening crop yields.ADNFCR-2803-ID-801372623-ADNFCR