With the ever-present danger of a sharp sting, bees are not the easiest of pets. Now, however, record numbers are taking the risk and buying hives in an effort to save the threatened species.
Bee-keeping clubs across the country have reported massive rises in membership in the last year.
Experts say the boom is down to a newfound sympathy for bees, which could be in terminal decline. Colonies of billions of honey bees have died worldwide since 2006, killed by a mystery condition that has baffled scientists.
Bees contribute £200million a year to the British economy through the production of honey. Their loss is a major threat to crops and human food production.
Now, following calls from scientists to help save the species, thousands have taken up bee-keeping.
The British Bee-keepers Association welcomed 5,000 new members last year – a rise of close to 50 per cent. President Martin Smith said: ‘The level of interest has been phenomenal. There has been a real boom.
‘There has been so much talk about the threat to bees that people want to do their bit to help a species which has been around for millions of years.
‘Bees are vital to food production and pollination, and keep the countryside alive with colourful flowers. People really care about bees and when they realised they were in danger it prompted a huge amount of interest in bee-keeping.’
But he added: ‘Those who want to take up bee-keeping must be aware of the work that goes with it.
‘Anyone who has stood next to a bee-keeper when he opens a hive and sees 50,000 bees will know what a shock it can be.’
British beehive manufacturers have also seen a sharp rise in interest in hives, protective clothing and honey jars.
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