News Winging it: The shrill carder bee is thriving in Kent

Conservationists stunned by the insects’ rapid recovery

Weekend Work: Time to cut out flower stems

What to do

The harebell, which appears at the end of summer, is one of our frailest wild flowers – its stalk is as thin as a wire – so it is easily outcompeted and shut out by grasses

Pollution causing steep decline in UK's favourite wild flowers

Many of Britain's best-loved wild flower species are disappearing because of nitrogen pollution from car exhausts and farm fertilisers, experts are warning.

The harebell, which appears at the end of summer, is one of our frailest wild flowers – its stalk is as thin as a wire – so it is easily outcompeted and shut out by grasses

Wild flowers are overpowered by exhaust fumes

Pollution blamed as nettles and grasses flourish – and force out much-loved species

Mark Avery: When Tory shooters call the shots

It was a revelation to discover Mr Cameron's closeness to the shooting community

Study gives new hope for native black honeybee

Native black honeybees are doing better across the UK than previously thought, according to a study which raises hopes they could help boost the insect's fortunes.

Michael McCarthy: Real Spring starts this Sunday

I wrote recetly that four is not really a sufficient number for seasons, with mid-March, for example, being neither spring proper nor late winter, but something in between. And the spring's true heart also does not fit with the traditional versions. As far as I am concerned, spring in southern England, where I live, begins this Sunday, 15 April.

Last Night's Viewing: Bees, Butterflies and Blooms, BBC2<br />My Life: Home Grown Boys, BBC1

"I'm on a campaign to wake people up," said Sarah Raven at the beginning of Bees, Butterflies and Blooms. She was on a mission, she explained, to prevent "a quiet catastrophe", namely the declining numbers of bees and pollinators in the ecosystem, a decline that might eventually have a direct impact on our ability to feed ourselves. It all sounded quite serious to me, entirely justifying her use of the word "crisis" at the very top of the programme. And it was at that point that I wondered whether Raven had really chosen the best title for her series. Bees, Butterflies and Blooms sounds like the title of a parish calendar, a bucolically cosy affair that sounds as if decoration is its highest goal. Looking at it in the schedules, you could easily dismiss it as a bit of natural history infill, designed to plug a gap in the mixed planting of the schedule's municipal flowerbed. It should really have been called "Don't You Get It You Fools, All the Bees Are Dying!"

Lady Runcie

As a former member of the secretarial staff at Lambeth Palace, whose office window looked out over the back of the building,I should like to add an additional note to the obituary of Lady "Lindy" Runcie, widow of Robert, the former Archbishop (l7 January), writes Stella Taylor.

The <i>IoS</i> guide to wild Britain (Part 2)

In the second of our nature specials, David Randall talks to National Trust experts who reveal 40 of their prime places to spot the best and rarest of British flora and fauna, from butterflies and dormice to wildflowers and falcons

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: The best discoveries canbe entirely accidental

It seems to me a curious part of the human psyche that we more deeply enjoy special things seen casually and accidentally, than those which have been expressly sought out. Certainly this applies to the natural world. So much of the wildlife which once surrounded us has been lost that to set eyes on many distinctive species we are now obliged to make expeditions. We go birding, or botanising or butterflying: you're unlikely to see a wood warbler, or a military orchid, or a swallowtail, without going in search of them. Often, of course, the results are very satisfying, and long to be remembered, and worth the journey.

The <i>IoS</i> guide to wild Britain (Part 1)

Summer holidays are here, and what better way to spend them than to enjoy some of our diverse wildlife? David Randall tells the story of the RSPB, the world's oldest conservation group, and its experts choose 40 of the best reserves to visit

Bellissima! Anna Pavord discovers beautiful flowers on a walking trip to the Dolomites

San Cassiano in the Dolomite region of northern Italy wasn't what I was expecting. On the map, west of Cortina d'Ampezzo, north of the mountainous hump of Marmolada, it looked a small village, surrounded by plenty of nothing – good for walking. But it's on the move, San Cassiano. Five huge yellow cranes hung like praying mantises over new building sites. Parked outside our family-run hotel was a daunting line-up: Aston Martin, Ferrari, Maserati and Porsche. "Crumbs," I thought. "What are we going to do with our boots?" Mud, unless provided at a cost in the hotel's Daniela Steiner Spa, seemed to have little place here any more.

Britain's rivers 'being ruined by demands of water companies'

Study says extraction causing harm, but warns cost of remedy may be passed to consumers

A Summer of Drowning, By John Burnside

Kingsley Amis wanted to write poems. Philip Larkin wanted to write novels. Amis did write quite a few poems, and Larkin did write a couple of novels, but Amis’s poems weren’t as good as his novels, and Larkin’s novels weren’t as good as his poems. It’s very, very rare for a writer to be equally good at poems and novels. John Burnside is. He’s a brilliant poet, a brilliant memoirist, and a brilliant novelist.

Ten Top UK Wine Tours

1. Biddenden Vineyards

Sample red, white, rosé and sparkling wine in the Kent countryside (bidden denvineyards.com) on tours during the growing and harvest seasons.

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War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?