The bee crisis which has seen colonies collapse across Europe and America may be starting to ease.

Beekeepers are reporting healthy colonies

Figures unveiled by the British Bee Keepers’ Association (BBKA) show huge growth in bee colonies over the summer – and a bumper harvest of honey for bee-keepers.

BBKA president Martin Smith said: “We estimate that bee-keepers have increased the number of their bee colonies by 50 per cent – up to 120,000 from 80,000 in March.

“This reflects a significant increase in the number of people taking up bee-keeping. With 5,000 ‘armchair’ bee-keepers through our Adopt A Hive scheme, public support is making a difference.

“The test will come when we  survey the number of hives which survive the coming winter.”

Healthy bee populations are crucial to ensure pollination of flowers and vegetable plants. Scientists have predicted food shortages if honey bee numbers continued to decline.

Gardeners have turned to bee-keeping after reports that 50 per cent of colonies died in Europe and America in recent winters.

The varroa mite, pesticides and habitat loss have been blamed for bee decline.