a top view of garden

a top view of garden

The summer hum of bees is quieter than it used to be. Other pollinators are also fighting for their lives like butterflies, flies, and moths.

The summer hum of bees is quieter than it used to be. Other pollinators are also fighting for their lives. Butterflies, flies, and moths are examples of them. There are several reasons why such species are declining. However, the loss of food supplies is a critical element of the issue. Urban gardens, on the other hand, may supply essential nectar sources for pollinators. This is the conclusion of new research. 

Bees in Science

Insects are the topic of much pollination research. Nicholas Tew was more intrigued by the flowers they saw. Tew works as an ecologist at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. The amount of nectar available in various environments intrigued him. He was also curious about how cities differed from other types of landscapes in bee population. Flowers in cities have not been researched as thoroughly as those found on farms and in natural areas. Tew, on the other hand, believed they might be equally as essential in feeding pollinators. 

He claims that “urban areas cover a very tiny percentage of all land.” However, “they can be especially significant because intensive farming has taken over most [the British] countryside.” 

Tew and his colleagues examined previously gathered data about bees. They counted 536 different varieties of blooming plants. These come from 12 different locations around the United Kingdom. The team concentrated on three sorts of landscapes: metropolitan areas, farms, and nature reserves. The team only discovered some on farms or in natural preserves. Others occurred only in cities. Others happened in two or all three landscapes. 

They discovered that cities have a considerably greater diversity of blooming plants than surrounding areas. This is important for bees. Many non-native plants, such as begonias and butterfly bush, were also found in cities. These plants are frequently planted for their attractiveness. Plant diversity was lower in farmlands and nature reserves. They did, however, have more natural plants, such as bellflower and heather. 

Plant Diversity with Pollination

Tew believes that plant diversity is essential because of various pollinators like different types of flowers. Yellow blossoms, for example, may be preferred over purple blooms. Alternatively, bees should prefer wide blooms over cup-shaped blossoms. The greater the diversity of blooming plants in one location, the more potential pollinators will locate their preferred meal. 

However, not all plants generate the same quantity of bee food – nectar. Tew’s team calculated how much nectar each species of bloom produced. Some measurements were derived from prior research. In addition, the researchers took several additional measures. They used a net to cover solitary blooms or tight clusters of blossoms for 24 hours. Pollinators were unable to eat as a result of this. They next gathered the nectar and measured its sugar content. 

The study discovered minimal variation in the amount of nectar supplied by farms, cities, and nature reserves. What mattered for the bees was the number of flowers in bloom at the moment. Nectar was scarce in woodland regions with few flowers. 

Tew was particularly fascinated with cities. He claims that “urban areas can be hotspots of blooming plant diversity.” They might be essential food sources for pollinators. This is especially true for long-distance fliers like bees.