UK Research that is part of the National Trust and BBC local radio’s Bee Part of It project, said that samples of pollen proved that honeybees in towns and cities enjoy a more diverse diet than their rural counterparts.

The study had been trying to establish whether there is a link between pollen and the health of bees. Pollen samples were taken between June and August from 10 of the 45 hives involved in the project across England. Professor John Newbury, the head of the Institute of Science and the Environment, which includes the unit, said the samples provided a snapshot of the flowers honeybees are feeding on, at what time, and where.

The researchers went on to say that the urban bees find a richer diversity of pollen because they visit a much wider range of flowers than bees foraging in the countryside.

At Kensington Palace in London, where the Duke of Gloucester is keeping bees, samples of pollen carried back to the hives this summer contained large amounts of pollen from rock rose, eucalyptus and elderberry. In contrast, pollen samples taken from hives at Nostell Priory in Yorkshire and Barrington Court in Somerset were heavily dominated by just one crop – oilseed rape.

Matthew Oates, nature conservation adviser at the National Trust, said the prelimary findings back what has long been suspected: “namely that bees today often fare better in urban environments than in contemporary farmland”.

“Apart from crops such as oilseed rape and field beans, there are precious few pollen sources around for bees and other insects in modern arable farmland and surprisingly little in areas specialising in dairy, beef or sheep production,” he said.


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Jordanne grew up as a farm girl living in the most unlikely of places -- the concrete jungle sprawl of Los Angeles. She lives on the Urban Homestead where she shares her life with a wacky and always entertaining menagerie of goats, ducks, chickens, cats, bees, and stray animals that land up on her porch. Her passions are the natural and sustainable care of animals and her knowledge lies in successfully integrating "farm" animals into the city lifestyle. Jordanne also contributes to her family's blog called Little Homestead in the City -- chronicling this bizarre, beautiful, and often hilarious journey they're on.


  1. Monoculture of anything isn’t balanced. Living things were meant to have variety of natural foods in raw & fermented forms. Bees are like any living thing where foods need to be in a multitude of selections to add to health. My bees right now have a rainbow of pollens they’re gathering in the residential area they inhabit.

  2. Great post Jordanne. I can see where the monoculture farming can be detrimental for honeybees. It would be no different than humans just living on one food item.

    There’s an article in the latest Mother Earth News about systemic pesticides – I believe this is also killing off the bee populations. The pesticides are inside the plant, pollen and fruits.


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