Busy bees at work
A team of researchers including Leeds’ Professor Bill Kunin will be working in Headingley and Meanwood for the next two years, looking at how bees and other pollinating insects respond to urban areas.
The researchers will be studying a one kilometre square area of the city covering different types of urban habitat, including grassland, woodland, commercial and residential land. Local residents are supporting the project by allowing access to their gardens so that the flowers and insects in them can be studied.
Even apparently uninviting urban areas can attract surprisingly large numbers of pollinators. For example, 35% of British hoverfly species have been found in a single Leicestershire garden, and honeybees produce more honey in urban Birmingham than in the surrounding countryside.
The research team are seeking to find the pollinating hotspots in cities and discover what we can do to improve them.
The results of the three-year project, which also involves researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Reading and Edinburgh and covers 12 cities as well as farmland and nature reserves, will be shared with conservation workers, giving them the information they need to help conserve the most important habitats. In Leeds, the University will team up with members of the city council and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to help improve habitats by creating flower-rich margins throughout the city.
Read the BBC's report on the project.