7 June 2010
The short-haired bumblebee needs large areas of flower-rich pasture and field margins, especially those with an abundance of red clover. It became extinct in England in the 1980s but colonies were established in New Zealand more than 100 years ago and still survive there.
Latin name: Bombus subterraneus
The short-haired bumblebee was formerly widespread in south-eastern England, as far north as southern Yorkshire and as far west as Cornwall. Numbers fell during the twentieth century and by the 1980s it was restricted to Dungeness and the Romney marshes in Kent from where it was last seen in 1988.
Where to see and when:
If the current re-establishment project is successful in future years, it will be possible to see this bumblebee at Dungeness and nearby areas in Kent. May and June will be the best times to see them foraging on red clover flowers.
What’s being done:
Environmental Stewardship is helping farmers to provide the habitat features and landscape diversity that benefits the short-haired bumblebee. Already some 500ha of clover-rich swards have been sown and more will be sown this year. Work on a reintroduction is under way, but moving the bees from New Zealand is difficult and unfortunately no release will take place this year.