Trees, shrubs and woody vines are among the top food sources for honey bees in urban environments, according to an international team of researchers. By using honey bees housed in rooftop apiaries in Philadelphia, the researchers identified the plant species from which the honey bees collected most of their food, and tracked how these food resources changed from spring to fall. The findings may be useful to homeowners, beekeepers and urban land managers who wish to sustain honey bees and other bee and pollinator species.
"We know that cities can support a surprising diversity of bee species; however, cities are complex environments, and traditional floral surveying methods can be hard to implement," said Christina Grozinger, Distinguished Professor of Entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research, Penn State. "By analyzing the pollen that honey bees brought back to their colonies and how the weights of these colonies changed every hour, we were able to identify the flowering plants that provide the most nutrition for bees in Philadelphia, and understand how these resources change across the seasons."