A bumblebee species that had become extinct in Britain will get a second chance on Monday when a new generation of queens is released in the south-east of England.

In rare piece of good news for the blighted insects, which have suffered a 32 per cent decline across all UK species, experts spent two weeks collecting short-haired bumblebees from farmland in southern Sweden, where numbers are rising. Today they will be reintroduced to an RSPB reserve at Dungeness in Kent.

The project began last year with a pilot re-introduction following four years of work with farmers to create the ideal wildflower habitat across Romney Marsh and Dungeness.

Conservationists hope all of the UK’s bumblebees may soon benefit from similar projects. Of the 25 native species, seven are declining and two are extinct.

The last reported sighting of the short-haired bumblebee was in 1988. Britain has also lost 97 per cent of its wild flower meadows over the past 70 years due to increasing urbanisation and agricultural intensification.

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