Garden blogs

Pollinator of the day #3 – The Western Honeybee (Apis mellifera)

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The Western honeybee, Apis mellifera, is the only species of honeybee we have in the UK. They are kept in hives and managed by beekeepers for the production of honey and wax, which are harvested for commercial purposes. The colony is made up of workers (females) and drones (males) which are controlled by one queen, by pheromones. The purpose of the workers is to forage for pollen and nectar and rear young, and the males leave the hive once they are sexually mature to mate with a virgin queen from another colony.

PhD student Laura Jones has been studying the honeybees at the garden for a number of years. Each month, honey is sampled from the hives in order to find out which plants the bees are using. Initial results show that they are only using a small proportion of the available resources during the spring, with a large percentage of their diet being woodland and hedgerow species. Laura has also sampled honey from 441 beekeepers in the UK to discover how foraging differs on a national scale. These results will be available very soon, so keep an eye!

To find out more about our pollinators, come join our Pollinator Festival, August 24-26 2019.