A study by the University of Bristol, the Natural Environment Research Council's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and Fera Science Ltd., found that the heather flower, bell flower, white clover and swamp thistle grown in the United Kingdom are responsible for producing half the nectar used to feed the bees that pollinate flowers and crops.
The study results were published in the February edition of Nature.
Prior to the study, which examined 270 plant species attractive to U.K. pollinators for sugar production, no quantitative scientific data was available. Study results found grassland habitats were best for pollinators because the habitat produces a wide variety of plants with the greatest amount of nectar, unlike agricultural land.
“We are trying out different ways to optimize our less-productive land use for bees and other pollinating insects so that they can stay healthy and help secure productivity in the long term,” Alice Johnston, the Application and Stewardship Coordinator for Orchard Farm, one of Bayer’s field stations in Cambridge, England, said.
From 1930 to 1970, the supply of nectar decreased significantly but stabilized starting in 1987.