Beekeeping has become TOO trendy and almost unsustainable in some urban areas because there is not enough nectar and pollen to go round, study warns
- The ‘World’s Plants and Fungi’ report warned urban beekeeping can do harm
- Beekeepers only raise honey bees — which can outcompete wild colonies
- Colonies need access to sufficient forage like flowering plants, shrubs and trees
- In addition, honey bees can also help to spread disease to their wild cousins
Urban beekeeping has grown so trendy that it may be doing more harm than good — with the practice becoming unsustainable in certain areas, a study has warned.
The ‘World’s Plants and Fungi 2020’ report from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew said that cities like London now have too many hives for the available nectar and pollen.
Bee colonies rely on having ready access to flowering plants, shrubs and trees to survive and stay healthy.
The experts warned that honey bees can monopolise flowers and outcompete wild colonies — along with accidentally spreading disease to these ‘cousins’ as well.
Urban beekeeping, pictured, has grown so trendy that it may be doing more harm than good — with the practice having become unsustainable in certain areas, a study warns (stock image)
‘This revelation will surprise many who think that keeping bees is a great thing for the environment,’ said Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew researcher Phil Stevenson.
‘Unfortunately, it isn’t always the case. The public need to be much more aware of the importance of pollinator diversity and how organisms interact, so that we can conserve all urban wildlife more effectively.’
The report highlighted the importance of wildlife such as bees to city trees — many of which depend on pollination by animals and which are cities’ ‘unsung heroes’.
Trees deliver benefits including capturing pollutants, reducing flooding by soaking up rain, lowering temperatures through shading and tackling climate change by storing carbon — and thus have the potential to help with future weather extremes.
But the report said that there is a need for more diversity in the trees that are presently planted being in British cities.
In fact, sycamore, English oak, silver birch, ash and plane make up a whopping third of the trees that adorn London’s parks, gardens, playing fields and streets.
The ‘World’s Plants and Fungi 2020’ report from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew said that cities like London now have too many hives for the available nectar and pollen
A greater diversity of trees is needed to help them cope with pests, diseases and climate change — with the planting of more exotic species potentially called for.
In addition, the report called for officials to ensure that trees have good soils with the fungi they need to grow, so they can survive the harsh city environment with its disturbance, pollution, drought and heat — and deliver important natural services.
The full findings of the World’s Plants and Fungi 2020 report were published on the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew website.
DECLINING BEE POPULATIONS
Declines in recent months to honey bee numbers and health caused global concern due to the insects’ critical role as a major pollinator.
Bee health has been closely watched in recent years as nutritional sources available to honey bees have declined and contamination from pesticides has increased.
In animal model studies, the researchers found that combined exposure to pesticide and poor nutrition decreased bee health.
Bees use sugar to fuel flights and work inside the nest, but pesticides decrease their hemolymph (‘bee blood’) sugar levels and therefore cut their energy stores.
When pesticides are combined with limited food supplies, bees lack the energy to function, causing survival rates to plummet.