In the past few years honey bees have experienced substantial declines. There were 27 species of bees in the UK and sadly 3 are now extinct with many others under threat.
The cause or causes of the losses are not yet fully understood but it's believed that a number of factors have contributed. The four most significant are:
Environmental changes such as the extensive use of pesticides, specifically insecticides, in farming.
The loss of the flower-rich habitat on which bees depend for food. Natural habitats such as hedgerows, hay meadows and chalk grassland have all depleted over the past 70 years as a result of the intensification of agricultural systems.
Disease is another serious concern. Varroa is an external parasitic mite that attacks bees and spreads viruses to the bee. A serious mite infestation will lead to the death of an entire bee colony.
Changing climate. Recent wet summers have prevented bees from doing what they do best, searching out pollen.
The British bee population has declined at an alarming rate over the last few years - by a third since 2007.
There's also been a massive decline in the number of bee hives in the UK - nearly 75 per cent in the past century.
Environment and rural affairs minister Lord Rooker said last year: "Bee health is at risk and, frankly, if nothing is done about it, the fact is the honey bee population could be wiped out in 10 years."
This is about people, not just bees.
Healthy bee populations are important to human health and well-being which is why it's so important we all do our bit to help.
Colony collapse is economically significant because many agricultural crops are pollinated by bees.
The total value of Europe's insect pollinators is estimated at €14.2 billion a year.
It's not all bad news. There is some help at hand.
The National Bee Unit has been set up with funding from Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) in England & Wales. The NBU is a centre for research and delivers Bee Health Programmes to beekeepers and the rest of the industry.
Leading beekeepers are now specially breeding bees for mite resistance.
A number of high profile campaigns have been set up to highlight the problems that bees face. See our links page for more information.