Bees buzzing about cities produce tastier honey

Friday, August 20, 2010

LONDON - Bees buzzing about cities produce tastier honey, even though they have been associated with wildflower meadows and landscapes.

Bees feeding on lime trees, common in suburban gardens, produce a more fragrant and tastier honey than the rock-hard variety that comes from the oilseed rape in the countryside, says a National Trust study, a charitable organisation.

It is also thought that bees buzzing around intensively-farmed fields may be falling foul of low-quality pollen and pesticides, reports the Daily Mail.

Matthew Oates, a National Trust adviser on nature conservation, said: “These are very early findings, but nonetheless, they are distinctly interesting.”

University of Worcester researchers analysed pollen samples from 10 National Trust beehives to determine which flowers the bees were feeding on.

And whether there was a link between the pollen and the health of the insects.

At Kensington Palace in London, the samples contained large amounts of pollen from rock rose, eucalyptus and elderberry.

Hives at suburban sites, such as the university campus, benefited from pollen from lily, blackberry and rowan trees. These samples also contained some evidence of oilseed rape.

In contrast, some of the rural hives, including those at Nostell Priory in Yorkshire and Barrington Court in Somerset, contained samples that were heavily dominated by oilseed rape, with few other pollen types detectable.

There are fears that the pesticides used to spray oilseed rape and some other commercial crops are harmful to bees.

It is thought that the cocktail of chemicals disrupts the nervous systems of young bees, making them more vulnerable to disease and destroying their ability to find food and pass on the location of flowers to colony mates.

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