B. subterraneus was one of four species of bumblebee introduced into New Zealand from the United Kingdom between 1885 and 1906 for pollination of red clover. In New Zealand it is the rarest of the four species, with small numbers at a few locations in inland South Island. The last recorded sighting of B. subterraneus in the United Kingdom was in 1988 and it is believed extinct there. A programme was started in 2009 to reintroduce it to the United Kingdom with queen bees from New Zealand. The programme was run by Natural England, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and bee and wasp charity Hymettus. However this was not a success as many of the queens died during hibernation. DNA analysis of the New Zealand bees showed they lacked genetic diversity. In 2012 a second attempt was made to re-introduce the short-haired bumblebee using queens from Skåne province of southern Sweden.
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- Gibson, Eloise (2 June 2009). "British make beeline for South Island". New Zealand Herald. p. A5. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10575865. Retrieved 2009-06-02.
- O'Connell, Sanjida (7 September 2009). "'Extinct' British subject repatriated after 100 years". New Scientist.
- Kasprzak, Emma (5 may 2012) How UK's humble bee project led to Swedish outrage BBC News England, Accessed 28 May 2012
- Morelle, Rebecca (28 May 2012) 'Extinct' short-haired bumblebee returns to UK BBC News, Science and the Environment, Accessed 28 May 2012
- Kennedy, Maev (27 May 2012) Bumblebee lost to UK makes comeback on Dungeness shingle The Guardian, Accessed 28 May 2012
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