With their population thought to have fallen by a third in the last decade, the decline of British bees has showed little sign of slowing.

But now it seems they are fighting back, as honey bees overcame a disastrous start to the year and a starvation warning to exceed last years honey yield.

The average colony of bees in England produced 26lbs of honey this year, an increase of 5lbs per hive from 2015, according to the British Beekeepers Associations (BBKA) annual honey survey.

That was despite the National Bee Units decision to issue a bee starvation warning in June following an unusually cold and windy spring.

The situation was made even worse by the late flowering of many summer plants, said Tim Lovett, the director of public affairs at the BBKA.

But there was a sting in the tail as the bees battled back to finish the honey harvest season strongly thanks to improving weather.

A better summer followed by a long, warm autumn gave the bees a chance to build up their strength and their honey supplies and we are delighted to see the season end with a much improved honey yield, said Mr Lovett.

A quarter of beekeepers in the survey said weather conditions had the biggest potential effect on honey quantity in this years crop, up from nine per cent in 2015.

Margaret Murdin, the chairman of trustees at the BBKA, said bees depend enormously on the weather.

If we get really rainy weather, the bees cant fly, she said. We could have all the forage in the world out there but if it is pouring with rain most days, the bees wont be able to forage.

They are tiny, so if they get hit by a raindrop they would be knocked down. We are pleased with the results of the survey, and the bees seem to be thriving.

Image courtesy of telegraph.co.uk