Honey detective work raises fears for bees

DNA detective work on honey has given a rare insight into the foraging habits of honeybees.

Scientists used genetic tools to discover which plants the pollinators visited in the countryside. They compared this with a 1952 study, finding big shifts in the wildflowers available to bees.

In the 1950s, honeybees mainly gathered pollen and nectar from white clover. Today, there is not so much of this plant about, so they seek alternatives.

But there are fears honeybees and other vital pollinators are running out of food supplies as wildflowers disappear in hedges and fields.

Dr. Natasha de Vere, head of conservation and research at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, said, “We’ve seen these major changes in the UK landscape and the honeybees have shown us that from their honey samples.”

She added today’s agricultural systems didn’t have enough nectar for pollinators, with much of the habitat for bees being grasslands, which are a “kind of green desert.”

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