Rescuing the Bumblebee
The short-haired bumblebee, Bombus subterraneus, was introduced to New Zealand from England between 1885 and 1906 to help pollinate crops. The bumblebee died out in the UK in 2000 because of loss of habitat and intensive agriculture. Now a threatened species in this country and difficult to catch, the bumblebee is set to be re-introduced into Britain after scientists discovered a way to breed it in captivity. Project Officer for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust Dr Nikki Gammans discovered that enthusiasts in the Czech Republic had successfully reared short-haired bumblebees in captivity by first capturing other species of bumblebees, removing the pollen with a brush and then feeding the pollen to a captive queen. “The short-haired bumblebee is a very fussy eater,” Gammans said. “It needs fresh pollen every day, and not any old pollen.” Gammans will then catch queens in the South Island and rear a number of colonies using the new method. In a recent survey of 1984 bumblebees in Canterbury and Otago, only 38 were from the short-haired species. New Zealand has 28 native and 13 introduced species of bee.