The decline in pollinator populations is an ongoing problem that could have a dramatic impact, not only on the diversity of our habitats but also for the range of plants available for cultivation.
The increasing area of monocultures and increased use of bee-killing pesticides are specific threats for honeybees and other wild pollinators. Some of these insecticides, at concentrations applied routinely in the current chemical-intensive agriculture system, exert negative effects on the health of pollinators, both individually and at the colony level. The loss of biodiversity, destruction of habitat and lack of productive areas for foraging have resulted in a dramatically declining pollinator fauna. On a more general level, industrial agriculture, increased vulnerability to parasites/pathogens and climate change are contributory factors.
In Wales, as in other parts of the UK and Europe, pollinator-rich stands of habitat are becoming scarcer with every year that passes. The loss of >95% of the flower-rich meadows in Britain passed almost unnoticed during the 20th Century and the same is now happening with species-rich arable land. These formerly nectar-rich habitats for pollinators are fast becoming sterile monocultures rendered virtually barren of pollinators by insecticide applications.
One aim of the Living Wales programme is to detect locations that still support abundant and diverse pollinator populations. These will tend to be habitats with a flora that supplies a rich source of nectar, such as species-rich coastal grasslands and heaths, meadows, pastures and arable field margins. At locations where pollinators are abundant, you can often hear the low hum or buzz before you see them. These locations are not well known and often not documented.
We are particularly interested in the locations of pollinator-rich habitats and which of these habitats are favoured by bees, hoverflies and butterflies.