Page last updated at 09:20 GMT, Tuesday, 28 July 2009 10:20 UK

Hives open to help bee survival

Honeybee hive
Bees pollinate around one-third of the food we eat

Beehives are being opened in Essex in an attempt to restore the county's dwindling bee population.

Three new hives will be unveiled at Cressing Temple at Witham by the county council, which claims it is one of the only local authorities helping bees.

It also hopes to boost bee survival by encouraging bee-keeping.

Bees are in "serious" decline throughout the UK, with one in three bee colonies not surviving the winter, the council added.

A spokesman said the council's conservation efforts were fuelled by the fact Essex has a species of rare bumblebee, the threatened Bombus humilis.

Tracey Chapman, cabinet member for environment and waste, said: "Bees are vital to the biodiversity of Essex and yet their survival is at threat.

"I am delighted we are opening three new beehives and doing our best not only to protect and preserve bees but to promote their future too."

The new hives coincide with Cressing Temple's Bee Week, designed to raise awareness of the importance of bees.

Bees pollinate more than 250,000 species of plants and 100 different crops and are responsible for pollinating around one-third of the food we eat, the council said.

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