The queen bees that were moved from Sweden to England are being released into the wild. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/Scanpix.
"Extinct" species in the UK

Swedish bumblebees released in England

The controversial move of short-haired bumblebees from Sweden to England is now reaching its final stages. BBC news online reports that some 50 queen bumblebees are being released at a nature reserve in Kent.

The move attracted criticism in Sweden about a month ago, as some claimed the Swedish bumblebee population would be damaged if the British researchers were allowed to come here and collect queen bees.

It all calmed down after Swedish scientists pointed out that there are 20,000-30,000 short-haired bumblebee hives in Skåne and that the British collection of about 100 queen bees would not have an impact.

After they left Sweden, the queen bees have spent two weeks in quarantine in England. People working at the nature reserve where they will be released have spent the last three years preparing for their arrival, encouraging the right kind of clovers and other wild flowers to grow there.

The short-haired bumblebee has been extinct in England since 1988, and the hope is that the species will again be able to thrive in the area. A previous attempt to move short-haired bumblebees from New Zeeland failed in 2009.

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