Page last updated at 10:17 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 11:17 UK

New course to boost bee numbers

A bee on a flower
The number of bees has decreased by 75% over the past 100 years

The University of Lincoln is setting up a new bee keeping course in a bid to halt dwindling numbers.

The university's agricultural campus at Riseholme will be equipped with three hives and 500,000 bees.

Lecturer Ben Crabb said there had been a lot of interest in the project from the local community.

The government announced that £10m will be spent on research for pollinators, including bees and other insects - to see if the UK decline can be halted.

Mr Crabb, who has kept bees for 22 years since the age of seven, said: "It will be good to teach other people, especially with the state honey bees are in at this moment in time. It will be good to get other people to keep bees to boost the numbers.

"The health of bees is vitally important. We don't really know why they're disappearing and there's a lot of research going into that at the moment."

Mr Crabb said he hoped the course would encourage Lincolnshire people to keep bees at home, even those living in towns or the city of Lincoln.

He said: "Urban bees actually do relatively better than rural bees mainly because there are more flowers in gardens, less use of pesticides and insecticides and they normally produce more honey."

A decline in the number of flowers as food sources has led to a poorer environment for honeybees and is likely to have been a major factor in the 75% decrease in the number of hives over the past 100 years.

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