THE plight of the humble honey bee is well documented.

Declining populations brought about by changes within the natural environment, such as the weather, are a growing concern prompting us all to be more conscious about protecting and preserving this hugely important specie.

Planting bee-friendly plants and flowers in our gardens can make a valuable contribution to protecting bees - ensuring they have fodder whatever the weather - and when we consider the pivotal role pollination plays in our food chain, it is the very least we can do.

To help promote and educate about the importance of bees, The British Beekeepers Association, a national organisation founded in 1874 to 'further and promote the craft of beekeeping and to advance the education of the public in the importance of bees in the environment,' teamed up with Egmont Publishing, publisher of the children's classic - Winnie-the-Pooh - to create a special 'bee-friendly' guide.

The guide is aimed at helping families to understand the part bees can play and includes a brand new short story, along with 10 simple activities, to support British honey bees - all featuring Winnie-the-Pooh and friends in various parts of England.

Lovingly drawn by illustrator Mark Burgess, who coloured the original E.H Shepherd black and white art and the latest book 'Return of the Hundred Acre Wood,' the guide also offers activities such as planting, baking, arts and crafts.

Tim Lovett, BBKA Director of Public Affairs said: "The British Beekeeping Association was delighted to be approached in 2015 by Disney who offered to help us promote beekeeping to young people through one of their most loved characters, Pooh Bear. It's vital that young people appreciate the importance of bees and learn some of the fascination of keeping them. The response to this booklet has been most encouraging."

Closer to home, Bradford Beekeepers are constantly striving to promote the importance of bees within the local environment and beyond.

As well as running courses at Bradford University, renowned for its Eco-versity status where they hold their winter meetings, the organisation also has its own apiary - a former bowling pavilion near Tong Street where, last year, it began developing a closer link working with schools and the local community.

A £9,713 grant from The Gannett Foundation, run by the parent company of the Telegraph & Argus, has helped the association produce a schools pack containing two DVDs, including a data disc with around 74 individual classroom or outdoor activities for various age groups relating to bees and pollinators which the association has been distributing to local schools.

Bill Cadmore, training officer for the Bradford Beekeepers Association, says a result of the work they have been doing they are now seeing an increase in schools and organisations such as scout groups wanting to be involved either by the beekeepers going to talk to schools and organisations or through pupils and organisations visiting the apiary where they can glean in insight into the basics of bee-keeping and the workings of the hive.

He says they are now hoping to link in with the British Beekeepers Association's 'Bee-friendly guide' to further promote the protection and preservation of bees and also educate young ones about the important role they play within the food industry.

"A lot of children will grow up thinking food comes from the supermarket," says Bill, emphasizing the important role bees play through pollination.

"It is fairly important that people know about things that may affect our lives."

"Most of them will find out an awful lot about bees and they put a bee suit on and look into the hive," he says referring to the visits they run at the apiary.

Since it launched five years ago Bradford Beekeepers Association has gone from strength to strength. Today it boasts a membership of nearly 120 and, according to Bill, interest is growing in their bee-keeping courses.

"Certainly the people of Bradford are getting more and more interested," he says.

Bill also talks of a future project focusing on community apiaries to garner further interest in bees who need all the help they can get.

Aside from the constant threats from species such as the Varroa Mite and the latest insect to threaten the honeybee population - the Asian hornet which made its appearance last summer - the weather is also impacting on our bee population.

The unseasonal wetter summers and milder winters have led to the loss of many colonies with many bees starving to death or being too weak to survive.

"All pollinators are declining but the honeybee is in steep decline. The big message is plant lots of different plants in your garden so the pollinators have got plenty to eat," says Bill.

With the countryside providing slim pickings in terms of fodder for bees, planting a variety of plants in our own gardens should offer them the sustenance they need,

"There is a thought that suburban gardens are the biggest nature reserve in the country," adds Bill.

Now that is food for thought......

For more information about Bradford Beekeepers’ Association, visit or to find out more about the new 'Bee-friendly guide' visit