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07 April 2010

Bee numbers in England fell by more than half over the last 20 years

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England's bees are vanishing faster than anywhere else in Europe, with more than half of hives dying out over the last 20 years

The University of Reading research found there was a 54 per cent decline in managed honey bee populations in England between 1985 and 2005 compared to an average of 20 per cent across Europe.

It comes as separate research in France suggested the reason bee numbers are falling is because of intensive agriculture that has led to a fall in the number of wild flowers and plants.

Dr Potts, from the University of Reading's School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, requested official data from 18 countries on honey bee colony numbers.

In England the bee population fell from 182,000 colonies in 1965 to 179,000 in 1985, to 83,000 today.

England had the most dramatic fall followed by Sweden, Germany and Austria. Scotland suffered a 15 per cent loss in the last two decades and Wales lost 23 per cent of colonies.

In recent years bee populations around the world have plummeted, with British bee keepers losing a fifth of hives over the winter of 2008/09. Experts blame everything from climate change, to pesticides or a mysterious ailment known as colony collapse disorder or CCD.


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