June 16, 2009 Press Association Newsfile, Emily Beament, Press Association Environment Correspondent

Honeybees are making a comeback to Kew Gardens today as part of a campaign to encourage people to grow bee-friendly flowers in their gardens.

Jordans Cereals is releasing 20,000 honeybees into two hives in a wildflower meadow at the world famous botanical gardens in London, marking a return after a year without the insects.

Bees in Kew's hives died at the same time as many colonies across the country - with the widespread losses thought to be as a result of problems including disease and environmental pressures.

Bees play a vital part in pollinating many of the crops grown in the UK, but have been hit by agricultural changes which have reduced the availability of the wildflowers that are so important in providing food for the insects.

Diseases such as the varroa mite have infected hives, killing the bees, while climate change and pesticide use have also been suggested as possible factors in the insects' decline.

The number of honeybees has fallen by 10%-15% in the last two years, according to the Government, but a survey of British Beekeepers' Association members suggests losses could have been as high as 30% between November 2007 and March 2008.

The honeybees at Kew are part of Jordans Cereals' Big Buzz campaign which also includes a give-away of 30,000 bee-friendly lavender and rosemary plants and 5,000 packs of seeds - equivalent to around 35 million wildflowers.

The cereal company has a nature-friendly farming scheme, is calling on the Highways Agency and local councils to make publicly-owned land more bee-friendly and plans to teach children about the value of bees through exhibitions.

Annette Dalton, horticultural manager at Kew Gardens, said: ``No English garden is complete without its bees and Kew Gardens is no exception.''

She said the wildflower display was full of bee-friendly plants such as oxeye daisy and wild clary, with winter and spring flowering trees and shrubs nearby to feed the bees all year round.

``We want to do our bit to help the British honeybee and we hope this will show visitors to the Gardens the important interaction between plants and insects.

``Without pollinators like bees, plants would not set seed and our food supplies would be under threat which makes campaigns like Jordans' Big Buzz so important,'' she said.

Bill Jordan, founder of Jordans, said the relationship between bees and flowers had been damaged and people had to step in and fill the breach.

``Bees are so much more than the soundtrack to lazy summer days - they're the most incredible of all nature's pollinators.

``We have been committed to increasing insect-friendly habitats across the UK through nature-friendly farming methods since 1985 and through the Big Buzz we now want everyone to get involved,'' he added.

The campaign is supported by conservation groups, leading bee experts, celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and London Mayor Boris Johnson.