A study conducted by researchers at the University of Bristol found that home gardens are by far the largest source of food for urban pollinators such as bees and wasps. The study was published in the Journal of Ecology.
For the first time, a study measured the amount of nectar produced in urban areas and found that home or residential gardens account for 85% of the food sources of pollinating insects.
Phys.org reported that the results showed that three gardens can produce an average of one teaspoon of natural ragweed, or the unique sugar-rich liquid found in flowers, that pollinating insects drink for food every day.
A teaspoon of nectar may not sound like much to humans, but to insects it is worth more than a ton of nectar, which is more than enough to feed thousands of flying bees. The more bees fly through the gardens, the more diverse the flora and fauna will be.
The study highlights the central role of these urban gardens in supporting pollinators and promoting biodiversity in urban areas. Researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Edinburgh, Reading and the Royal Horticultural Society extracted nectar production in nearly 200 plant species with over 3,000 individual flowers.
Home gardens are the powerhouse for pollinating insects
ALSO READ: Flowers adapt to climate change by changing their color
Overwhelming amount of nectar in gardens in urban areas
Nicholas Tew, an ecologist and lead author on the study, said that after measuring nectar diversity in the countryside, they decided to do something similar in urban areas. They said they expected cities and towns to have plenty of sources of nectar. However, their measurements exceeded their expectations.
“We have found that the nectar supply in urban landscapes is more diverse, that is, comes from more plant species than in arable land and nature reserves, and private gardens are vital to this urban nectar supply,” said Tew, who is studying for a PhD. DD in ecology. “Gardens are so important because they produce the largest nectar per unit area and cover the largest area of land in the cities we studied.”
According to the news agency, almost a third of the plants they tested, about 29%, in urban areas were home gardens six times the area in parks and 40 times the area in allotment gardens.
The role home gardens play in assisting pollinators
Tew stated that their results show the significant role home gardens play in maintaining pollinators. Without them, there would be far less food for pollinating insects such as bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, flies and beetles in cities.
He added that for new housing developments it is important to include gardens. Also, gardeners should try to ensure their gardens are as good as possible for pollinators, the British Ecological Society reported.
“To do that, you need to plant nectar-rich flowers to make sure there is always something in bloom from early spring to late fall. Mow your lawn less often so dandelions, clover, daisies, and other plant flowers can thrive without pesticides.” Spraying will damage pollinators and avoid covering the garden with paving, decking, or artificial turf, “Tew said.
RELATED SUBJECT: New Study Reveals Big Bumblebees: Learn Best Flower Spots
For more news and information on the environment and climate, see the Science Times.