Wednesday, August 05, 2009

URBAN DWELLERS URGED TO KEEP BEES AS POPULATION DECLINES

BBC - People living in urban areas are being encouraged to consider keeping bees in gardens, on roofs or on balconies to help reverse population decline. Conservation watchdog Natural England wants more homeowners to install hives and grow insect-friendly plants.

Nearly all the UK's 250 species of bee are in decline. Honeybee numbers have fallen by 10-15% in the last two years. Experts say sustaining bee populations is essential to ensuring the survival of Britain's plants and crops.

Natural England wants to see more UK bee colonies, which would make the insects more resistant to their biggest killers - disease and pests, such as the varroa mite.

The organization's chief scientist, Tom Tew, said urban areas could play a crucial part in encouraging bees and a new easy-to-use beehive, called a beehaus, could help more people become apiarists. . .

The first of the newly-designed urban beehives is due to be installed on the roof of Natural England's central London offices, but Dr Tew said the bees would not be coming into contact with pedestrians on pavements because they flew about five meters off the ground.