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Individual study: Bee and butterfly abundance and species richness was higher in specific species sown in wild bird seed mixtures and pollen and nectar seed mixtures in Oxfordshire, UK

Published source details

Pywell R.F., Meek W.R., Hulmes L. & Nowakowski M. (2010) Designing multi-purpose habitats: utilisation of wild bird seed species by pollinating insects. Aspects of Applied Biology, 100, 421-426


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture Farmland Conservation

A replicated, randomized study in 2006 and 2007 in Warwickshire, UK (Pywell et al. 2010) (same study as (Pywell et al. 2008)) found bee (Apidae) and butterfly (Lepidoptera) abundance and species richness were higher in stands of specific sown plant species. Bumblebee Bombus spp. abundance and species richness were significantly higher on plots sown with phacelia Phacelia tanacetifolia and borage Borago officinalis (32-85 bees/plot) compared to other treatments (1-22 bees/plot). Crimson clover Trifolium incarnatum (10-21 bees/plot), sunflower Helianthus annuus (10-22) and in 2007 red clover Trifolium pratense (20) also tended to have high bee abundances (other plant species: 1-11 bees/plot). Short- and long-tongued bees showed differences in preferences. In 2006, butterfly abundance and species richness were significantly higher in plots with lucerne Medicago sativa compared to borage, chicory Cichorium intybus and sainfoin Onobrychis viciifolia. In 2007 butterfly abundance was higher in red clover compared with chicory, but the number of species did not differ between treatments. Mobile and immobile butterfly species showed differences in preferences. Flowers of buckwheat Fagopyrum esculentum were the most abundant followed by phacelia, borage and sunflower in 2006. In 2007 fodder radish, red clover and sweet clover Melilotus officinalis also had high flower abundance. Mustard Brassica juncea and linseed Linum usitatissimum had the least abundant flowers in both years, along with other species each year. Thirteen species were sown in single species stands: nine small-seeded crop species typically sown in wild bird seed mixes and four wildflower species typically sown in pollen and nectar seed mixes. The species were sown in May each year in adjacent 6 x 4 m plots in a randomized block experiment with four replicates. Butterflies and bumblebees were sampled by walking transects through each plot on six occasions from May-September. Flower cover was estimated at the same time.

Plant nectar flower mixture/wildflower strips Farmland Conservation

A replicated, randomized study in 2006 and 2007 in Warwickshire, UK (Pywell et al. 2010b) (same study as Pywell et al. 2008) found bee (Apidae) and butterfly (Lepidoptera) abundance and species richness were higher in plots sown with specific wildflower species. Bumblebee Bombus spp. abundance and species richness were significantly higher on plots sown with phacelia Phacelia tanacetifolia and borage Borago officinalis (32-85 bees/plot) compared to other treatments (1-22/plot). Crimson clover Trifolium incarnatum (10-21/plot), sunflower Helianthus annuus (10-22/plot) and red clover T. pratense (20/plot) also tended to have high bumblebee abundances (other species: 1-11/plot). Short- and long-tongued bees had different preferences. In 2006, butterfly abundance and species richness were significantly higher in plots with lucerne Medicago sativa compared to borage, chicory Cichorium intybus and sainfoin Onobrychis viciifolia. In 2007 butterfly abundance was higher in red clover compared with chicory, but the number of species did not differ between treatments. Mobile and immobile butterfly species had different preferences. Flowers of buckwheat Fagopyrum esculentum were the most abundant followed by phacelia, borage and sunflower in 2006. In 2007 fodder radish Raphanus sativus, red clover and sweet clover Melilotus officinalis also had high flower abundance. Mustard Brassica juncea and linseed Linum usitatissimum had the fewest flowers in both years, along with other species each year. Thirteen species were sown in single species stands: four wildflower species typically sown in pollen and nectar seed mixes and nine small-seeded crop species typically sown in wild bird seed mixes. The species were sown in May each year in adjacent 6 x 4 m plots in a randomized block experiment with four replicates. Butterflies and bumblebees were sampled by walking transects through each plot on six occasions from May-September. Flower cover was estimated at the same time.