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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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness