Buzzing in the marsh

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Making a return: the short-haired bumblebee which lost so much of its habitiat during World War II

Bumblebees are incredibly important to us – if you love eating tomatoes, or can’t get going ‘till you‘ve had your coffee, you have bumblebees to thank. These are just two examples of plants which depend almost entirely on bumblebees for pollination; they have a special method of going about it, called ‘buzz pollination’, which other types of bee just can’t match for effectiveness. It’s the third year of a very exciting project here at RSPB Dungeness – the reintroduction of the short-haired bumblebee back to the UK.

Many of you will be aware that Dungeness is now an exemplary location in terms of giving bumblebees back their homes. They lost much of their meadow habitat on Romney Marsh during the war years’ dig for victory, so now it’s time for us to do something for them.

We are very proud to be supporting the work of the Short-haired Bumblebee Reintroduction Project team, which has just returned from Sweden where there is a thriving population of this special bumblebee. Each spring over the course of the five-year project, the team collects up to 100 queen bumblebees that, quarantine pending, will be released here on the reserve. Last year we were happy to confirm that queens had successfully nested, as worker bees were spotted in the local area – of course we are very much hoping to build on this success in 2014.

The visitor centre will have an additional attraction opening in time for the May half term – a Giving Nature a Home Wildlife garden. Drop in, check it out, and be inspired. Experts are concerned that hedgehogs could be extinct within the next ten years – come and have a chat with us to find out what you can do to help them and our other struggling wildlife. Keep up to date with our news as it happens – sign up to our blog

Liz Knowles is a member of the RSPB team at Dungeness