Honeybee Foraging

Honeybees are highly important, both ecologically and economically, as a pollinator of wild and crop plants.

There is worldwide concern over increased rates of honeybee colony loss. The effects of agricultural intensification, climate change, habitat loss, pests, and disease are all interacting to contribute to these declines. Decreasing floral resources as a result of habitat loss is one of the key factors in the decline of pollinating insects worldwide.

We use DNA barcoding approaches to find out the flowers honeybees are using, from the pollen they collect and the honey that they make.

We study the honeybees housed in our Bee Garden. The National Botanic Garden of Wales provides an interesting study environment in which to answer questions about the floral preferences of honeybees. It contains over 5,000 taxa of flowering plants, which provides a highly diverse choice of native and non-native plant species for our honeybees to choose from. We have also worked with beekeepers across the UK to understand honeybee foraging on a landscape level. From this research, we provide detail on the plants honeybees use and give recommendations for habitat management.


Lowe A., Jones L., Brennan G., Creer S., Christie L. de Vere N., (2022) Temporal change in floral availability leads to periods of resource limitation and affects diet specificity in a generalist pollinator Molecular Ecology

Jones L., Lowe A., Ford C.R., Christie L., Creer S., de Vere N., (2022). Temporal Patterns of Honeybee Foraging in a Diverse Floral Landscape Revealed Using Pollen DNA Metabarcoding of Honey, Integrative and Comparative Biology.

Jones, L., Brennan, G.L., Lowe, A., Creer, S., Ford, C.R., de Vere, N., (2021). Shifts in honeybee foraging reveal historical changes in floral resourcesCommunications Biology 4, 37.

Jones L. 2020 Investigating the foraging preferences of the honeybee, Apis mellifera L., using DNA metabarcoding. PhD thesis

de Vere N, Jones LE, Gilmore T, Moscrop J, Lowe A, Smith D, Hegarty M, Creer S, Ford CR (2017) Using DNA metabarcoding to investigate honey bee foraging reveals limited flower use despite high floral availabilityScientific Reports 7, 42838.