Trials point to wildflower role in bee revival

Native wildflower mixes could help reverse the decline in the British bee population, research by the Co-operative suggests.

In trials of native wildflower mixes, 14 times more bees were seen on wildflower test strips compared with adjacent hedgerows and grass margins. The mixes included annual flowers such as Cornflower, which is rare in the wild, Crimson Clover and Corn Marigold and perennials such as Yarrow, Oxeye and Wild Carrot.

The Co-operative is funding trials of native wildflower mixes on two of its farms in Stoughton, Leicestershire and Down Ampney, Gloucestershire as part of its Plan Bee campaign.

Marek Nowakowski, who is conducting the research, said: "Awareness of the importance of sowing wildflowers to support pollinators is increasing. However, to maximise their impact, a variety of types of flowers are needed to ensure pollen and nectar is available throughout the foraging season and to support different species of bee.

"In our research, Crimson Clover was most visited by a long-tongued species, the common carder bumblebee (bombus pascuorum), because the flower has long corolla that require a long tongue to reach the nectar inside."

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