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Page last updated at 13:23 GMT, Tuesday, 31 August 2010 14:23 UK
Bees spell out their plight in SOS poster
By Laura Joint
BBC Devon

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Watch a timelapse film of the billboard being created

A billboard spelt out by 100,000 bees has been creating a buzz in Devon.

The bees, from South Molton-based Quince Honey Farm, spelt out SOS in what is thought to be the world's first billboard 'written' entirely by bees.

The SOS stands for Save Our Swarms and is part of an advertising campaign by wine company Banrock Station.

The firm is donating 5p from the sale of three special edition wines to the Co-Operative's Plan Bee campaign, aimed at helping the UK's bee population.

Paddy Wallace of Quince Honey Farm said they were lucky that on the day of the photo-shoot, everything went according to plan.

The bees billboard
The bees stayed on the billboard for an hour before being returned to the hives

"We took the bees from the hive for a short time and released them onto the board," he said.

"We used pheromones to attract the bees to the board and they stayed there for about an hour.

"We were lucky - the sun came out."

The bees were then returned to the hives as quickly as possible, to prevent any distress.

"We didn't have any problems at all. The poster was on the quiet road here and are neighbours are very good."

The money raised will go towards research into the decline of the honey bee, which is largely blamed on the Varroa mite.

"We were happy to do this because we are backing the research," said Paddy.

Clare Griffiths from Banrock Station, said: "We thought there was no better way to raise awareness of the British bee decline than get the bees to tell their story themselves.

"We hope the billboard has created a bit of a buzz in Devon and beyond."

At the height of the season, Quince Honey Farm has 90 million bees in 1,500 hives.

This season got off to a great start with the warm spring and early summer, but the poor July and August has led to a decreased honey harvest for the farm.

The height of the season is now over, but some of the bees are now foraging on the heather on Exmoor.




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