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Why you should cull foreign flowers from your garden: Exotic plants play havoc with bees' stomachs while native foods offer a healthier choice

  • Fermented pollen is used as source of protein and other nutrients by the insects
  • Bees rely on bacteria to chemically 'bake' their bread to preserve it for longer
  • This affects the makeup of the gut flora found in the digestive systems of bees
  • Scientists recommend gardeners plant species indigenous to their country 

Dining on foreign food can be one of life's great pleasures, but not it seems for honey bees. 

Experts found that, while exotic species of plants may offer a tempting meal, native species present a healthier choice for a honey bee's digestion.

That's because of bacteria found on flowering vegetation, which can cause an upset in the guts of the creatures.

Experts recommend that gardeners who want to help prevent the global decline in honeybee colonies plant species indigenous to their country.

 

Dining on foreign food is one of life's great pleasures, but it seems for the honey bee (pictured) it can play havoc with their digestion. Experts found that native species of plants present a healthier choice (stock image)

Dining on foreign food is one of life's great pleasures, but it seems for the honey bee (pictured) it can play havoc with their digestion. Experts found that native species of plants present a healthier choice (stock image)

Researchers from Lancaster University studied bacteria found on 'bee bread', fermented pollen used as a food source by the insects, in 29 honeybee hives across northwest England.

Bees rely on bacteria to chemically 'bake' their bread, preserving it in a similar fashion to cheese or yogurt. 

This bacteria affects the bacterial flora found in the guts of the bees.

Bacteria found on flowering vegetation can cause an upset in the guts of the creatures. Bees rely on bacteria to chemically 'bake' their bread, fermented pollen used as a source of nutrition (pictured), preserving it in a similar fashion to cheese or yogurt (stock)

Bacteria found on flowering vegetation can cause an upset in the guts of the creatures. Bees rely on bacteria to chemically 'bake' their bread, fermented pollen used as a source of nutrition (pictured), preserving it in a similar fashion to cheese or yogurt (stock)

Scientists found that In Britain, where the study was conducted, bees feeding in natural environments – like woodlands with broadleaved trees and acidic grasslands with wild flowers – led to the healthiest hives.

Based on this, they recommend growing heathers, thistles and cherry trees to promote bee welfare. 

Speaking to The Times, lead researcher Philip Donkersley said: 'A lot of plant species we grow in our gardens were brought in from South America and Asia.

WHAT IS THE HONEYBEE CRISIS?

Honeybees, both domestic and wild, are responsible for around 80 per cent of worldwide pollination, according to Greenpeace.

But bee colony collapses across the globe are threatening their vital work.

Bees are dying from a combination of pesticides, habitat destruction, drought, nutrition deficit, global warming and air pollution among other factors.

The global bee crisis can potentially be solved if dangerous pesticides are eliminated, wild habitats are preserved and ecological agriculture is restored, according to Greenpeace (file photo)

The global bee crisis can potentially be solved if dangerous pesticides are eliminated, wild habitats are preserved and ecological agriculture is restored, according to Greenpeace (file photo)

Greenpeace has reported: 'The bottom line is that we know humans are largely responsible for the two most prominent causes: Pesticides and habitat loss.'

This is important for a number of reasons, chief among them the amount of work bees put into our food production.

Vegetables, nuts and fruits are pollinated by bees. Of the top human food crops, a whopping 70 of 100 are pollinated by the creatures, which account for as much as 90 per cent of global nutrition.

Greenpeace has suggested the following solutions to the problem:

  • The preservation of wild habitats in order to protect pollinator health
  • The restoration of ecological agriculture
  • The elimination of the world's most dangerous pesticides 

'This gives the bees this bizarre, weird gut microbiome that we don't normally see in bees in their natural environment.

'In humans, when you get gut bacteria disturbed, it makes room for pathogens to enter. We think the same may be true in bees.'  

Honeybees, both domestic and wild, are responsible for around 80 per cent of worldwide pollination, according to Greenpeace.

But bee colony collapses across the globe are threatening their vital work.

Bees are dying from a combination of pesticides, habitat destruction, drought, nutrition deficit, global warming and air pollution among other factors.

In a Greenpeace report, a spokesman said: 'The bottom line is that we know humans are largely responsible for the two most prominent causes: Pesticides and habitat loss.'

Experts recommend that gardeners who want to help prevent the global decline in honeybee colonies plant species indigenous to their country. In Britain, where the study was conducted, this includes growing heathers (pictured), thistles and cherry trees (stock image)

Experts recommend that gardeners who want to help prevent the global decline in honeybee colonies plant species indigenous to their country. In Britain, where the study was conducted, this includes growing heathers (pictured), thistles and cherry trees (stock image)

This is important for a number of reasons, chief among them the amount of work bees put into our food production.

Vegetables, nuts and fruits are pollinated by bees. Of the top human food crops, a whopping 70 of 100 are pollinated by the creatures, which account for as much as 90 per cent of global nutrition.

Greenpeace has suggested the following solutions to the problem: the preservation of wild habitats in order to protect pollinator health; the restoration of ecological agriculture and the elimination of the world's most dangerous pesticides 

The full findings of the study will be published in an upcoming edition of the journal Ecology and Evolution. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR celebrityrave

Journalist, writer and broadcaster, based in London and Paris, her latest book is Touché: A French Woman's Take on the English. Read more articles from Agnes.

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