01 March 2010

Bees take flight to the city after fall in rural hive numbers

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The Co-op is training an army of apiarists as bee numbers halve in 20 years

The buzzing of bees, part of the essence of rural life, may soon become a city sound. A new army of urban beekeepers is being recruited as part of an ambitious project to halt the worrying decline in British honeybees.

The plan is to site hives in city gardens and allotments across the UK, and even on the roofs of buildings, to help rebuild honeybee numbers, which are believed to have halved in Britain between 1985 and 2005, and more recently to have declined even more steeply in some areas.

The reasons are not clear, but it may be a combination of pesticide use, warmer winters because of climate change and infections such as that caused by the varroa mite. Honeybees in Britain produce 5,000 tonnes of honey a year and their pollination of fruit trees and other crops are estimated to be worth £165m annually.

(The Independent)

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