The rapid decline of honey bees has been widely reported, with challenges including disease, pesticides, the varroa mite and loss of habitat.

To help address this worrying trend, the Royal Bath and West Society is encouraging people to get involved with caring for these essential and industrious pollinators.

Fortunately, beekeepers have grown enormously in numbers over the past decade, with 247,000 hives recorded in 2017, compared to fewer than 80,000 in 2008. But more needs to be done, and the Society is urging people to get involved, whether by learning to keep bees themselves or simply choosing bee-friendly plants for their gardens.

Rupert Cox, chief executive of the Society said: “Bees are a vital part of our farmed landscape – without pollinators arable yields would suffer, and fruit trees would fail to produce fruit.

“They are essential to our food security, as well as being fascinating creatures to study, whether that’s in the hive or simply on your garden flowers.”

At this year's Bath and West Show the Bees and Honey area will include a display showcasing how a hive works, how honey is extracted, and what plants are most attractive to honeybees.

Eleven-year-old Rosie Boyd, who has been involved with beekeeping since she was two, has her own hive and has won the Snelgrove Shield Trophy at the Bath and West Show three years’ running.

She said: “If we didn’t have any bees then humans would only have four years left to live on the planet.

“Looking after bees is one way to help the environment – and the environment isn’t doing that well at the moment.”

“There may be a beekeeping club at school – or you could start one up – and the British Beekeepers Association has local branches so you can go along to the local club apiary.”

Quilter Cheviot Investment Management and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust will be hosting a talk at the Bath and West Show on saving a rare bumblebee in the Somerset area, to which visitors are welcome.

The talk, by Daisy Headley, conservation officer at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, will be held at 12.30 on Wednesday 29 May at the Quilter Cheviot tent, stand 141.

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