Wild plants are good for pollinators

October 6, 2011
Wild plants are good for pollinators

A new study has shown that encouraging strips of wild plants at the edges of fields is important for supporting bees and other important pollinators.

The research by academics at the University of Bristol has shown that enhancing the size of wild features in landscapes could be important for making sure that insect pollinators can exist within an agricultural landscape that faces increasing pressure for yield. The paper is published online in .

Dr Sean Rands, Lecturer in the University’s School of Veterinary Sciences and co-author of the study, said: “Many of the insects that provide essential pollination services to our crop live very close to where they do their work.  Preserving these wild stretches of fields may be an important part of ensuring that we get a decent yield of flowering crop species.”

The study used a mixture of mathematical simulations and data from the British landscape to show that adding a little bit of extra space for these species could provide them with a much more diverse mixture of wild species to forage on, in addition to the crop species available in fields.

Crop species may be hugely abundant when in flower, such as the yellow landscape when oilseed rape is in flower, but once these flowers have passed, the which live within these fields need to find their supplies elsewhere.  Encouraging wild species that flower at different times can provide these essential supplies.

Various species of pollinator may travel very different distances from their home to find food, and what is available to them will depend upon how far they are willing to fly from their homes.  This study demonstrates that increasing the width of wild margins should enhance the availability of these off-season resources for all but the most local of species.

Explore further: Pollinators help one-third of world's crop production, says new study

More information: Field margins, foraging distances and their impacts on nesting pollinator success, Sean A Rands & Heather M Whitney, PLoS One, 6(10): e25971. dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0025971

Related Stories

Bee research shows benefits of native plants, wild bees

January 14, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- As scientists struggle to come to grips with Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious disease threatening to wipe out domesticated honey bees in the United States, they have begun to cast a worried eye towards ...

New study suggests severe deficits in UK honeybee numbers

July 1, 2011

A study published by the University of Reading's Centre for Agri Environmental Research suggests that honeybees may not be as important to pollination services in the UK than previously supposed. The research was published ...

Recommended for you

Winter season reverses outcome of fruit fly reproduction

November 24, 2015

Male fruit flies could find their chances of fathering offspring radically reduced if they are last in the queue to mate with promiscuous females before winter arrives, according to new University of Liverpool research.

New insight into leaf shape diversity

November 24, 2015

Many of us probably remember the punnett squares by which we were introduced to the idea of genetic inheritance in school: a dominant allele in each of my brown-eyed parents hides a recessive allele that explains my blue ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.