Preservation of heather in natural habitat could benefit the wild bees, as per a new study.
The nectar from heather comprises of a natural bumblebee drug, thereby offering the wild bumblebees protection against a dangerous bee parasite.
Heather is one key foraging flora for the wild bees. However, the plant is under pressure currently from disease, pesticides and habitat loss.
Strawberry tree and lime trees also comprised the ‘drug’ but at reduced levels.
The study by researchers from University of London proved into plants for their medicinal values which could protect the pollinators. They collected nectar of 17 plants, which includes heather, ivy, dandelion and clover. The nectar was tested for their respective medicinal effects upon a harmful parasite discovered in bumblebees.
Out of all the nectars, the nectar from heather showed highest potent effect because of an individual chemical called callunene. The line trees and strawberry trees also contained a few medicinal effects.
Heather is commonly found in moorland or heathland, where it’s a vital nectar source for the wild bees as well as other pollinators. However, the researchers say that continued loss as well as degradation of the heathlands because of human activities might lead to loss of a vital medicinal plant on which pollinators depend on. Thus,a proper balance needs to be maintained to restore habitats which improve bee health.