• Sweden edition

UK bumblebee push sparks Swedish anger

Published: 29 Apr 2012 07:19 GMT+02:00
Updated: 29 Apr 2012 07:19 GMT+02:00

A plan by British researchers to reintroduce an extinct bumblebee to the UK by collecting 100 queens from Sweden has prompted an angry reaction from Swedish environmentalists who fear for the species' survival.

"They are no longer the world's rulers as they were before when they just went around and took stuff. Now they have to show a regard for the country they visit," said Lars-Åke Janzon, recently retired biologist from the Museum of Natural History in Stockholm.

The bombus subterraneus, or short-haired bumblebee, was last spotted in the UK in 1998 near Dungeness in Kent and the species was declared extinct in 2000.

But a team of British conservationists is mounting an attempt to reintroduce the humble bee to the UK's wildlife by collecting 100 queen bees from southern Sweden.

The project, conducted in cooperation with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Hymettus, Natural England and the RSPB has gained significant media attention in the UK and has developed a large twitter following.

The Swedish authorities are less amused however, voicing fears over the future of the bee in Sweden.

"The short-haired bumblebee is in decline and is increasingly rare. If they collect 100 queens here there is a high risk that we end up in the same situation as in the UK," said Anneli Johansson, environmental director at the County Administrative Board in Skåne.

However as the short-haired bumblebee is not yet on the list of endangered species in Sweden, there are no legal grounds for the board to stop the UK conservationists.

"The only thing we can do is to try to get in contact with them, to appeal to them and to get them to understand how inappropriate it is to threaten the existence of this species in Skåne," Johansson told the TT news agency.

Lars-Åke Janzon argued however that Skåne should do more than make a friendly appeal to the British, calling for the project to be reviewed in the UK's equivalent of the Research Council.

He furthermore accused the British team of acting unethically.

The short-haired bumblebee population has shrunk considerably in recent years and is now largely extinct in much of central Europe.

A previous British attempt to reintroduce the species with the help of bees from New Zealand in 2009 failed when all the bees dies while in quarantine.

TT/Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:39 April 29, 2012 by Great Scott
Short memories Mr Janzon, remember the Vikings.

And once again bad English from The Local.

"But a team of British conservationists is mounting".

It's "are" not "is".
08:58 April 29, 2012 by Daho
Weird, didn't the British researchers do some study on the impact in Scania before they went bumblebee hunting there? Will they harvest the queens from different areas in Scania, or just from a few?

You should try to reach the British researchers for a comment. Maybe they did extensive research on the impact in Sweden, and not just went here grabbing 100 queens just because the short-haired bumblebee is not yet listed as endangered in Sweden.
09:14 April 29, 2012 by fogelfeifer
Great Scott....think you might need to double check....wouldn't it be 'are' if there were teams (plural) involved? And on the subject....leave the bumblebees where they are!!
10:10 April 29, 2012 by redblue
If there is a high risk of bumblebee extinction, such as the länstyrelsen says, if will affect the ecosystem in Skåne since many plants are dependent on bumblebee pollination.

The one responsible is dr Nikki Gammans (on twitter @NikkiGammans).
11:36 April 29, 2012 by Daho
Does dr Nikki Gammans have a phone number, and if so why cant the journalists call her for a comment?

I'd be very interested in her story, regarding contacts with Swedish authorities and what studies have been made on local impact of grabbing 100 bumblebee queens.

Everything could be in order.
12:10 April 29, 2012 by RobinHood
@ Great Scott

Please enhance your own grammar to at least a basic level before offering defective criticism to those writing in their second language.
12:22 April 29, 2012 by Mb 65
The British bee died out in the first world war they caught a type of cold. Bees were imported from Mexico and other parts of the world. Lots of animals and birds depend on bees as well as humans has Lars- åke thought of that.
13:21 April 29, 2012 by Frobobbles
Please, it is humblebee, not the inane bumblebee! Give up that Beatrix Potter stuff.


The first great 20th-century book on bees was by Frederick Sladen, and his 1912 opus on their life history was firmly in the "humble" camp. In Beatrix Potter's Tale of Mrs Tittlemouse (1910), the eponymous heroine is troubled by squatters making mossy nests in her back yard. Chief troublemaker is one Babbitty Bumble."
13:28 April 29, 2012 by gpafledthis
If the english "nancys" want queens let them take the football team too !!
14:07 April 29, 2012 by muscle
Guys, i am tired of reading about local's bad english. Yes its bad and we know it. But now its not funny any more. Its boring and lame to comment about that (including my comment) so please cut it out.
14:15 April 29, 2012 by trade
it looks like Sweden is plunging into a huge recession... and they worry about a bee. I love Sweden.
14:22 April 29, 2012 by planet.sweden
"They are no longer the world's rulers as they were before when they just went around and took stuff. Now they have to show a regard for the country they visit," said Lars-Åke Janzon, recently retired biologist from the Museum of Natural History in Stockholm.

Wow, beneath the calm conformist PC exterior of the average Swede lurks a nasty, bigoted nationalist just waiting for an excuse for a day out.
14:59 April 29, 2012 by Migga
This was posted on Nikki Gammans twitter three hours ago;

"There has been a terrible misunderstanding. I am working with the local authorities in Skane to resolve the issue."

What a total idiot. Throw this reasercher, head first, out of the country. If she has caught bees already they should be released and she should be fined alot of money. What a complete moron.
16:32 April 29, 2012 by skogsbo
Firstly, never ever trust a local story to provide the whole story accurately.

Secondly, a hundred bees from say a 100 hectares is nothing.

Thirdly, did you know in Sweden a state inspector has to check even your own honey bees before you them, if going beyond your own parish?

Finally, I presume you all already have very bee friendly gardens, flowers and shelters?
16:44 April 29, 2012 by Daho
Skogsbo, a hundred bees is perhaps nothing, a hundred queens is something though. They are the base for entire populations.

The reserachers Swedish expert Börn Cederberg say that it will be a "bleeding" ("åderlåtning") of the Scanian Bombus subterraneus species, but since it is an important project it's worth it.
18:24 April 29, 2012 by skogsbo
Daho, ALL bumblebees that over winter ARE queens. I keep honey bees myself in Sweden, so save your preaching for those who are uneducated. I will repeat a 100 bees from a hundred hectare won't impact, it would also appear those with knowledge also agree, as they have a permit.
19:24 April 29, 2012 by Daho
It's good that you have knowledge Skogsbo. The SLU researcher were sceptic first, but its good that you are not.

How many bombus subterraneus are there in these scanian areas? over 10 000 or something? Then 100 is really nothing.
20:22 April 29, 2012 by Great Scott

The plural is in "conservationists", it is this that makes it "are". For it to be "is" it must be in singular form.


As usual nothing but messed up gibberish from you, if only your contributions here could be more entertaining, factual or even a little bit interesting!

I would also like to know why you believe the writers at The Local are not native English speakers.
20:46 April 29, 2012 by dizzymoe33
It is all very scary right now if we lose our Bee's then we will not have any food or plants or trees!! We must all do more to preserve the Bee population that help pollinate our food resources.
20:58 April 29, 2012 by skogsbo
Daho, you can do your own research, every bumblebee you see now, or for the next month at least will be a queen. It's doesn't mean we should protect them, but there are quite a few out there.
21:58 April 29, 2012 by libertarianism
Since the grammar question won't go away...

To my understanding, collective nouns in *formal* American English generally use a "single" verb because the collective is considered to be one thing.

So, a team of conservationists IS... TEAM is a singular noun and subject, and thus takes the singular verb form, IS. (CONSERVATIONISTS is the object of the prepositional phrase, OF CONSERVATIONISTS).

In British English, collectives often use a plural verb because the collective whathaveyou is made up of many things. Right?

There's a whole wiki entry with various examples and exceptions for anyone who really cares... I'm guessing most of us don't! :)

I hope the bees are happy and healthy wherever they end up... Otherwise, I hope they are at least able to sting the conservationists before they (the bees) die. Seems only fair.
22:43 April 29, 2012 by soultraveler3
"Wow, beneath the calm conformist PC exterior of the average Swede lurks a nasty, bigoted nationalist just waiting for an excuse for a day out."

# 13 You are so right. All it takes is a differing opinion, honest statement or a few drinks for the true colors to come out.
14:27 April 30, 2012 by erikerikandersson

But you do know that the numbers of queens from this particular species (B. subterraneus) is just a small fraction of all the bumblebee queens we have?

I don't know how threathened it is, but it dosen't really seems that any one else knows that eigther. Better to be on the safe side then.
17:08 April 30, 2012 by Greysuede
British thieves go away!!!!
00:05 May 1, 2012 by DavidtheNorseman
Well, whether or not the British team is allowed the 100 bees they are requesting, it sounds like something SWEDES ought to be working on. The numbers in North America are frightening...one of the larger agricultural US States has plunged from 70,000 colonies to 28,000 in recent years and the expert I heard discussing the crisis blames some of the newer pesticides. Interesting further info: http://www.kmbc.com/news/30798351/detail.html
15:34 May 4, 2012 by james_g
@ Great Scott AND libertarianism (no, the grammar question will indeed NOT go away :) ) - you're both wrong in different ways!

ENGLISH (or even British) English says (like our American cousins, apparently) 'But a team of British conservationists is mounting' (although it's not correct, unless done deliberately for effect, knowing one is actually breaking the 'rules', to start a sentence with a conjunction like 'but', let alone a paragraph as in this case!).

So - 'a team of British conservationists is...' OR 'British conservationists are...'

There, that's cheered me up no end :)
17:08 May 4, 2012 by Prestonrobsun
Best get rid of the wasps which paralyse the bees, drag them to their burrows and lay thier eggs in them for the emerging grub to feed on.

Bet that is more than 100 quuen bees/year.

Maybe just take the DNA and clone them if the Swedes are into a hissy fit.
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