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Major decline in West Country bee species

A bumble bee. Credit: PA

75% of the most threatened bee species have been lost to some of the region's counties.

A report by nature conservation charity Buglife says the large garden bumblebee (Bombus ruderatus) is still found in Gloucestershire and Somerset, but over the past 50 years has disappeared from Dorset and the far South West.

The increased use of pesticides and unpredictable weather have contributed to their decline.

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Deserted village has first residents in 70 years

A village in Wiltshire that was deserted 70 years ago has its first new residents; a colony of bees.

Beekeeper Chris Wilks is trying to breed a native British strain of black bee at Imber on Salisbury Plain.

Most bees in Britain were introduced from abroad after a disease nearly wiped native ones out.

The Wiltshire grassland is a perfect environment for black variety.

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Bees under threat from wet summer

The West Country's bee population is under threat from the effects of the wet summer.

The government's National Bee Unit has advised beekeepers of a starvation risk and is encouraging them to leave out emergency supplies of sugar and syrup.

Bees are under threat from a wet summer Credit: PA

Staple crops that bees feed on such as fruit blossom have been damaged by heavy rainfall in May and June.

Persistent rain can also prevent honey bees from being able to fly.

Last winter colony numbers in England also fell by 16.2%. If numbers continue to dwindle it could have a huge impact on the wider food chain.

The British Beekeepers Association says: "Honey bees are important pollinators and we rely heavily on them for much of the food that is on our plate in one way or another. All sorts of crops are pollinated by honey bees, including fruit and many vegetables."

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