A BEEKEEPER has blamed the spraying of chemicals on wild flowers near his hives for the loss of around 50,000 bees.

Bob Fulton has around a dozen hives in his garden in Pole Lane, Darwen, however, the 87-year-old discovered one of the bee colonies had died on Saturday morning.

The father-of-seven said contractors were spraying chemicals on vegetation at a roundabout outside his home the day before and that was the cause of the bee deaths.

Eric Wright Group has confirmed it had workmen in the area at the time.

Mr Fulton said: “The men sprayed the balsam plants near the roundabout and I think that’s what caused it.

“They sprayed it on a nice day when all the bees were out collecting pollen.

“I think it’s got into the bees and killed them all.

“I had to throw away lots of honey because I was worried chemicals may have got into it. The hive will be destroyed also.”

Earlier this month residents were angered by Eric Wright contractors cutting down poppies along the side of nearby Ellison Fold Way.

Mr Fulton has been beekeeping for 50 years, originally with his wife, Jean, who died three years ago.

He also grows lots of fruit in his garden.The honey, which many swear by as a hayfever preventative, is mainly given to family and friends, but any sold helps pay for the cost of maintaining the hives.

Each hive costs around £200 and can produce hundreds of jars of honey a year. Each one can produce 60lbs of honey.

Mr Fulton said: “It’s always been a hobby of mine and I really enjoy it.

“I’m worried the other bees may go over to the areas that have been sprayed and go the same way.

“I wished those who did spray the plants had gone out in the evening when the bees were not actively looking for pollen.”

Mr Fulton had contacted Blackburn with Darwen Council to raise the issue, but he was told a private contractor had carried out the work.

Cllr Roy Davies, who represents Darwen East, said: “I raised a similar issue about the poppies in Ellison Fold Way being removed.

“The bees were having the time of their lives there with all the flowers, but now, like Pole Lane, they have gone.

“I understand and share this man’s frustration and can see why he’s annoyed.

“When you go past flowers on a roadside it lifts you up, it puts a smile on your face.”

An Eric Wright Group spokesman said: “We are aware of the situation and plan to speak to Mr Fulton directly.”