Threatened Bumblebees Thriving in Kent thanks to Farmers

Good news this morning from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. The Trust’s project to reintroduce short-haired bumblebees to Dungeness, Kent has resulted in five threatened species of bee increasing their ranges in England. The BES featured the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s work as part of our 2009 event at the British Science Festival on ‘Gardening for Wildlife’. Dr Nikki Gammans, who was one of our panellists at the Festival, appeared this morning on the BBC Today Programme to talk about the success of the project.

The short-haired bumblebees were reintroduced to Britain from New Zealand last year but unfortunately the project failed because many of the bees died during hibernation. Now researchers have found that measures implemented in the Kent countryside to facilitate the reintroduction of the short-haired bumblebee have benefited five species of threatened bumblebee, which have all increased their ranges in the south east of England. These bees are the large garden bumblebee, the shrill carder bee, the shanked carder bee, the moss carder bee and the brown banded carder bee.

Speaking on the Today Programme, Dr Gammans said that the action of farmers around Dungeness has played a critical role in facilitating the spread of the bees, as the farmers have entered their land into agri-environment schemes. They have planted flower rich meadows and pollen-rich field margins, which have benefited the bee species.

You can listen to Dr Gammans via the Today Programme website.