I have thought about keeping bees for many years but was prompted to get myself organised due to the reports of declining populations. I think this is probably a combination of factors: varroa mites, loss of habitat, pesticides, ... and public policy doesn't work well in multi-faceted situations.
We need robust research through 2014 and 2014 when the neonicotinoid temporary ban is in place and in my view, serious preventative action to ensure that no more bee diseases are imported.
Bees are simply too important to risk.
For those interested, here is a short video of my bees bringing in pollen today. I'm hoping they have found sources other than the oil seed rape (which will have been treated with neonicotinoids) to the north - and as the pollen seems to be cream/pale yellow, I reckon they may have.
(and yes, the entrance block is ill-fitting and the pollen is in 'pollen baskets', specially adapted hairs on the back legs of the bees)