Wildflower landscapes offer crucial habitat to many animals, including insects such as bees, butterflies and beetles. Different flowers bloom at different times, providing a food source throughout the year.
An increasingly scarce resource
Honeybees, bumblebees and solitary bees collect nectar (carbohydrate) and pollen (protein) from flowers to use as food. Changes in land management mean that wildflower landscapes are dwindling across the UK – and therefore so is the food they offer to bees and other insects.
Honeybees have much larger colonies than bumblebees, and might start to compete with wild bees for food. Nynke’s research aims to understand how honeybees and wild bees share landscapes. This will help inform landscape management strategies.
Bees collect nectar (carbohydrate) and pollen (protein) from flowers.
Experiments in fields around Cambridge will identify the flowers visited by different types of bees. One experiment involves measuring how far different species of bees fly from their nests. Another uses microcopy and DNA analysis to identify the pollen which the bees bring back to their colonies. Together, these reveal the flowers visited by different bee species.
Nynke Blömer (Department of Zoology)
Since childhood, Nynke has been fascinated by insects. After learning how to keep honeybees in her family apiary as a teenager, her eyes were opened to all pollinators. Now, she works on pollinator conservation. In the lab, she rears buff-tailed bumblebees caught from the wild, then uses them in field experiments. She tracks their nest development using sensors that measure colony weight, temperature and sound.