Short-haired bumblebees decline concerning

New Zealand short-haired-bumblee-on-flower
The short-haired bumblebee (Nikki Gamman/The Short Haired Bumblebee Project)

Calls are being made to protect New Zealand's short-haired bumblebee - the last of its species left in the world.

The United States has declared bumblebees an endangered species and there are fears New Zealand bees are heading in the same direction.

"We now have the last genotype of that particular population left in the world, so yes, we should be attempting to conserve it and hopefully expand its range," says Barry Donovan of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

Mr Donovan wants to see more measures taken to save the insects, including artificial nests.

"Queens of the species could be captured and introduced to new areas in the hope that they will establish there, and then in those areas and its existing range nesting boxes could be placed out for queens to occupy in spring."

Mr Donovan says the species was introduced from Britain, where it's since become extinct.

It is believed a lack of wildflowers preferable to that bee contributed to its extinction in the UK.

In New Zealand, scientists know of around half a dozen plants the bees prefer including red clover, russel lupins, vipers bugloss and weigela.

"By planting up more of these resources, flowers that produce pollen and nectar preferred by the bees - that should enhance the bees ability to produce successful nests and so multiply."

"Any of those planted out by householders, on the face of it, should help let these species propagate.

New Zealand has four species of bumblebees. The remaining three are common across the country.