An attempt by conservationists to reintroduce an extinct bumblebee in the UK has proved successful. A previous attempt in 2009 to reproduce the species using queen bees from New Zealand failed due to the season differences between the two countries and a genetic weakness. These bees are known as the Bombus subterraneus and are distinct for their short hair. Due to losing their habitat, the last specimen in the UK was recorded in Dungeness in 1988; they were officially extinct by 2000. The latest successful attempt saw the introduction of queen bees from Sweden who nested and produced young at the Nature reserve in Dungeness. In total, three short-haired worker bees have been spotted at the reserve so far. It is a victory for conservationists, after the previous failed attempt, and populations of rare bees are now increasing in abundance across the Kent area.
Biology students should consider the difficulties in carrying out similar reintroduction schemes as well as the reasons behind extinction for more vulnerable populations.
Geography students can also think about the populations of endangered species. Bees especially play an important role in many societies, making schemes like this one carried out in Dungeness a vital research project.
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