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Bez backs urban bee keeping scheme

Bez gets some tips on bee keeping Photo: PA Images

Freaky dancer Bez is buzzing as he encourages a green initiative in his hometown of Manchester.

The former Happy Mondays maraca shaker is hoping more people follow his lead in setting up hives of bee colonies in towns and cities.

Last year's prolonged winter and wet summer devastated Britain's honey bee population.

But the insects are vital for pollinating crops and flowers and essential for the eco-system.

Bez now lives part-time on a commune, the Cwm Yr Hoel Farm near Swansea in south Wales, where he is learning to keep bees but was back in Manchester today to help promote the initiative.

Two new hives have been set up on the rooftops of the Printworks entertainment complex in the city centre, one by the firm itself and a second by the Hard Rock Cafe, a tenant in the building.

The city of Manchester incorporates the insect in its coat of arms as a symbol of industry, community and teamwork.

Bez, also known as Mark Berry, today inspected the rooftop hives alongside Canon Adrian Rhodes, who already keeps four hives on the roof of Manchester Cathedral.

Bez enjoying the fruit of his labours Credit: PA Images

Bez said: "My grandad, when he came home from the war, the only thing he came home with was four massive tins of honey and ever since honey has been part of our family life - on our cereal and in our tea.

"I'm getting on a bit, don't know what I'm going to do, no pension pot and the prospect of growing old in the city, well...

"So I met these people a few years ago doing community type of living, land sharing, living in a community way. You can live on next to nothing.

"It's about living the social life but keeping the party going and have a bit of fun.

"Lots of lads come down from Manchester with me."

New hives and bees can cost up to £800 but Bez said he was lucky enough to have bought his for £50 off "some fella" who no longer wanted a colony.

However he has been stung badly after leaving his trouser zip undone and not covered by his bee-keeping foil tunic.

He said around 100 bees got inside his pants and he had to run into the woods away from the hive but was "stung everywhere" inside his trousers.

Canon Rhodes said urban bee keeping is more important than ever because natural ones are in decline.

"In the wild colonies (they) don't last very long so really bee keepers are keeping the honey bee population alive," he said.

"We need it for pollination. If bees die out we are really going to be in trouble."