Get busy and give a honeybee a home

A A A

Urban householders are being urged to consider keeping bees in their gardens, rooftops or even balconies to help protect declining honeybee populations.

Natural England, which is backing the launch of a new easy-to-use design of beehive, also wants people to support wild bee species such as bumblebees by planting insect-friendly plants in their gardens.

The Government conservation agency's chief scientist Tom Tew said gardeners should go out into their local area and see which plants the bees liked and then plant those in their flowerbeds.

He also said more people keeping and caring for honeybees would create more populations, making the insects more resilient to attacks from disease and pests which threaten their survival.

The first newly-designed 'beehaus' is going on the roof of Natural England's central London offices, and Dr Tew said the bees would be foraging in nearby areas such as St James' Park and Buckingham Palace gardens.

The bees fly high - around 5 metres above the ground - and would not be coming into contact with people on the city's pavements, he added.



He said: "We are happy to support anything that brings people in closer touch with the natural environment and helps the natural environment.

"There's no reason why our towns and cities should exist as wildlife deserts - wildlife can thrive when we design our urban areas with nature in mind and the 'beehaus' is a great example of how easy it is for anyone to bring the natural world closer to their doorstep."

Bees also provided an important service pollinating plants and crops, he said, and "we need to recognise that if we want plants to flourish we need healthy populations of insects to sustain them".

He said the more populations of honeybees "scattered around" there were, the more able they would be to cope with outbreaks of disease.

He also encouraged people to support other species of bee by installing bumblebee nest boxes in their gardens, and planting insect-friendly species in their gardens.

Bees play an important role in agriculture, with the value of commercial crops that benefit from bee pollination estimated at £100 million to £200 million a year. Honey is worth some £10 million to £30 million.

But bee populations face a growing number of threats including pests and diseases such as the varroa mite and a lack of habitat providing food sources such as wild flowers.

The number of honeybees has fallen by 10 per cent-15 per cent in the past two years, according to the Government.

There are some 250 species of bee in the UK, including 25 bumblebee species, and they are nearly all in decline.

The new beehive design by Omlet - makers of the Eglu urban chicken coop - aims to make it easier for people to keep bees in towns and cities, even if they do not have much space.

Its makers say the bees, which can forage up to three miles away from the site, will produce an average of 50 pots of honey from just an hour's attention a week in the summer.

Johannes Paul, of Omlet, said it was easy to keep bees in urban areas, and having a hive was a "low maintenance hobby which is really fascinating".

"Those in the know have been keeping bees in towns for a long time. Keeping a hive doesn't take much space, so you can even keep them on balconies, roof tops and obviously gardens."

The losses in honeybee colonies have led to a rash of "bee rustling" with hives stolen from commercial farms, but Mr Paul said amateur beekeepers keeping their hives in gardens or rooftops were unlikely to be the victims of theft.

Natural England urged anyone interested in keeping bees to consider the commitment it involves before taking the plunge, and then to get professional advice or visit their local beekeeping association for support and to see what was involved.

News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
art
News
newsIn short, yes
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
News
i100
Life and Style
Cara Delevigne at the TopShop Unique show during London Fashion Week
fashion
News
The life-sized tribute to Amy Winehouse was designed by Scott Eaton and was erected at the Stables Market in Camden
peopleBut quite what the singer would have made of her new statue...
Sport
England's Andy Sullivan poses with his trophy and an astronaut after winning a trip to space
sport
News
peopleThe actress has agreed to host the Met Gala Ball - but not until 2015
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and i...

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and...

Primary Teaching Supply

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories