OUR lives depend on bees. We tend to ignore their real value to us and while their honey is most acceptable it’s their other role which is far more important though we do take it for granted. Without the pollination to make many of our food crops fertile we would certainly struggle as they are responsible for the growth of at least one third of the food we eat.

The list is almost endless and includes apples, pears and plums, onions, beans, celery, carrots, cabbage, sprouts, and turnips, as well cocoa, coffee and cotton. The fact that bees pollinate grapes makes a large scale wine industry possible.

I’m really surprised that there’s not a far greater public concern about the fact that many bee populations are in decline. Since the turn of the century about 50 percent of the USA bee colonies have been destroyed by Colony Collapse Disorder, while in the UK 35 of our bee species are under threat and at least 13 have been completely lost.

They are being killed by a range of commercial insecticides, particularly from the neonicotinoid and valroa mite chemicals that are used widely in modern arable farming. One US state, Maryland, has already banned their use, and over half of the EU countries are similarly committed though it’s likely that post Brexit the UK will carry on with these chemicals.

A smaller, but no less important reason for the bee numbers crashing is to do with their struggle to find flowers! Some 97 per cent of the 1940 wild flower meadows have disappeared, and our tendency to over tidy our gardens hasn’t helped. We need a real mixture of flowers, and fewer cropped lawns, so that the bees can shelter in the long grass.

Organic farming would certainly help as it supports more insect species and gives bees a much better chance.