ABSTRACT

Whether honeybees utilise oilseed rape (Brassica napus), and thus come into contact with neonicotinoid pesticides, has been questioned in the UK. Here we report the melissopalynology of honey samples taken from hives in the northeast of the UK from 2014 to 2015. The results show that Brassica pollen is predominant in honey extractions from June, following the mass bloom of oilseed rape. Honey extractions from July and September show more diverse sources of nectar from entomophilous crops, weeds and garden plants. Our results clearly show that honeybees will extensively utilise oilseed rape mass blooms in spring, and any change in the current European Union moratorium on neonicotinoids should be carefully considered. We also confirm the importance of gardens (when planted with ‘bee-friendly flowers’) in sustaining pollinators within suburban to rural environments.

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