We all know we need bees for pollination, but you might be surprised to know that they can make flowers grow larger and be more fragrant.
Swiss researchers at the University of Zurich, have found that plants evolve differently, depending on which insect is responsible for pollinating them.
Tests using field mustard, a type of cabbage species, found plants grew three inches taller when pollinated by bumblebees, rather than hover flies, over just nine generations. Flowering earlier and with double the fragrance, also when placed under ultraviolet light, they had more colours, which bees are attracted to.
Bees tend to seek out taller, more fragrant plants, which means the smaller less fragrant varieties miss out, allowing the taller plants to dominate.
Because the Bee population is in decline, the worry is this will lead to a decline in certain flower species, affecting their genetic diversity and be more open to disease.
Ahead of the Great British Bee count in May and June, Friends of the Earth are encouraging us to plant Bee friendly plants.
Bee expert Professor Simon Potts from the University of Reading said: “Everyone can help our under-threat bees this Spring. Research has already show that our towns and cities can be great places for bees – if the right plants are grown in parks and green spaces.
“With a bit of bee-friendly gardening, and a bit more tolerance of weeds, we can all help to make sure our streets and neighbourhoods are buzzing with these amazing insects.”