Bumblebees originally shipped to New Zealand to help farmers produce better clover crops are soon to be re-exported to their native Britain, where the species has died out.
The short-haired bumblebee was one of four species exported from Britain to New Zealand between 1885 and 1906 to pollinate clover crops.
It was last seen in the UK in 1988, but populations have survived in New Zealand, though it is the rarest bumblebee in this country and found only at a few inland sites in the South Island.
In a recent survey of 1984 bumblebees in Canterbury and Otago, only 38 were from the short-haired species.
As many as 100 of the bees will initially be collected in New Zealand and a captive breeding plan has been created in England, with the aim of eventually releasing them at Dungeness, Kent, where they were last seen.
The bees, known scientifically as Bombus subterraneus, will be flown to the UK in cool boxes so they will hibernate during the journey, the BBC reported.