A study led by researchers from the University of Bristol said that home gardens are by far the biggest food source for pollinators, such as bees and wasps, in cities and towns. The study was published in the Journal of Ecology.
For the first time, a study measured the amount of nectar produced in urban areas and found out that home or residential gardens accounted for 85% of the pollinating insects' food sources.
Phys.org reported that the findings showed that three gardens could generate daily on average a teaspoon of Natur's ambrosia or the unique sugar-rich liquid in flowers that pollinating insects drink for food.
A teaspoon of nectar may not sound much for humans, but for insects, it is equivalent to more than one ton of nectar that is more than enough to feed thousands of flying bees. The more bees that fly around the gardens, the greater diversity of flora and fauna there will be.
The study highlights the pivotal role these urban gardens play in supporting pollinators and promoting biodiversity in urban areas. The researchers from the universities of Bristol, Edinburgh, Reading, and the Royal Horticultural Society extracted the nectar production in nearly 200 species of plant of over 3,000 individual flowers.
Overwhelming Amount of Nectar in Gardens in Urban Areas
Nicholas Tew, an ecologist and the lead author of the study, said that after measuring the diversity of nectar in the countryside, they decided to do a similar thing in urban areas. They said that they have expected that cities and towns are plentiful sources of nectar. However, their measurements exceeded their expectations.
"We found the nectar supply in urban landscapes is more diverse, in other words, comes from more plant species than in farmland and nature reserves, and private gardens critically underpin this urban nectar supply," said Tew, who is studying for a Ph.D. in Ecology. "Gardens are so important because they produce the most nectar per unit area of land, and they cover the largest area of land in the cities we studied."
According to the news outlet, almost one-third of the plants they tested, about 29%, in urban areas comprised home gardens that is six times the area in parks and 40 times the area of allotments.
The Role Home Gardens Play In Supporting Pollinators
Tew explained that their findings show the significant role of home gardens in the conservation of pollinators. Without them, there would be far less food for the pollinating insects, like bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, flies, and beetles in cities and towns.
He added that it is vital for new housing developments to include gardens; also, gardeners should try to ensure their gardens are as good as possible for pollinators, the British Ecological Society reported.
"Ways to do this include planting nectar-rich flowers, ensuring there is always something in flower from early spring to late autumn, mowing the lawn less often to let dandelions, clovers, daisies, and other plant flowers flourish, avoiding spraying pesticides which can harm pollinators, and avoiding covering the garden in paving, decking or artificial turf," Tew said.
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