Nature campaigners' concern at plight of the honeybee

Busy bees from the Northamptonshire Federation of the Women's Institute (WI) are backing a campaign to raise awareness about the plight of the honeybee.

WIs across the country have made a resolution to take part in a campaign entitled SOS for Honeybees, to raise awareness for the insects which are vital in helping to create about a third of the food which makes up the human diet.

Part of the drive includes urging people around Northampton to be more aware about planting bee-friendly plants in their gardens.

They will be holding a plant swap on Saturday May 15 at WI House in Park View, Moulton, selling the correct plants and offering advice. Brenda Jenks, the WI's "bee ambassador", has recently been to a conference about the endangered insect. She said: "There is no one single factor killing the bees.

"The varroa virus did a lot at the start but there are other factors. There are fungi which affect them but there is also a lack of plants producing the right nectar.

"But we just don't understand everything that is killing them. We are trying to make people aware they need to have the right plants in their gardens. We get so much from bees, we owe it them to give as much back as we can."

Barbara Bentley, vice chairman of Northamptonshire County Federation of WIs, said: "We really want to raise awareness about this problem and get people thinking about the plants they plant, as many plants have no pollen."

Peter Nalder, of the Southcourt Environmental Group, welcomed the WI campaign and said there were several ways the public could help maintain bee numbers, including planting ivy, reducing the use of pesticides in gardens and planting flowers to feed the insects.

He added: "The first thing people should do when they see a bee swarm is to call the Beekeepers' Association and let them know about it, and not to call pest control. This is actually when they are at their least likely to sting, because they are overfed."

For more information on the WI campaign visit www.thewi.org.uk.