A STUDY of honeybees in Denbighshire and nearby areas has found the region has among the highest percentages of native species in the UK.

Welsh pollinating insects are better adapted to fertilising native plants that introduced foreign species, but they are facing population decline across Wales due to the loss of 90 per cent of wildflower meadows to development and agriculture since the 1930s.

However, during spring this year, a survey of Welsh bee populations carried out as part of PhD research at the University of Bangor observed a high level of native genes in honeybees in Denbighshire, Wrexham and parts of Conwy and Gwynedd.

The survey, held in collaboration with the South Clwyd Beekeepers’ Association (SCBA) which has worked to boost the native species, concluded that the DNA of honeybees in the region displayed a very high degree of purity, likely as high as anywhere in the UK – apart from the native bee reserve on the Island of Colonsay, west Scotland.

Bees and other pollinators such as butterflies and moths are vital to biodiversity and are estimated to benefit the UK economy by £200million a year.

Welsh bees have been in decline for more than three decades and in 2012 the Welsh Government launched its Bee Friendly action plan to improve pollinator-friendly areas across the country.

Steve Rose, native bee champion for SCBA, said the survey results reflect beekeepers’ hard work to conserve the genetics of the Welsh bee population against foreign bees that have been introduced since the 1800s.

“There were other pockets of pure bees found in Wales but nowhere outside South Clwyd’s area displayed the strength in depth of the bees,” Mr Rose said.

“Bees are highly tuned to their environment so it comes as no surprise that the 150-year-old practice of importing bees from places such as Italy has resulted in honeybee populations that might be more at home in a Mediterranean climate.

“The beekeepers of South Clwyd have bucked this trend and … we can all take comfort from the knowledge that the future of our local bee population is being secured.”

You can support bee populations by joining your nearest beekeeping society, or by providing space for hives and planting native flowers and trees.

For further information contact SCBA by visiting www.scbeekeepers.co.uk