Annuals

Plants that go through their entire life cycle in the span of one growing season. Their roots, stems, and flowers die annually.

Anther

The part of the plant that contains the pollen.

Apiculture

Another word for beekeeping, the human management of honey bee hives.

Biennial

Plants that go through their entire life cycle in the span of two years.

Bivoltine

Species with two nesting cycles and flight periods per year.

Bumblebee

Bees belonging to the genus Bombus, known for their fat and furry appearance. Unlike most honey bees, bumblebees are not managed by humans as they do not produce honey that can be harvested for human consumption. They are social bees that live in colonies with a single queen. The colonies are much smaller than those of honey bees, and only the bumblebee queen survives the winter through hibernation. Bumblebees are important pollinators and are the only type of bee capable of buzz pollination, needed to pollinate certain crops like tomatoes. There are currently 24 different bumblebee species in the UK.

Butterfly

Butterflies are insects of the order Lepidoptera. After completing their metamorphosis from larva to pupa and, finally, to imago (adult), butterflies often have large, brightly-coloured wings, making them a popular and charismatic group of species. As nectar-feeders, they are part of the UK’s pollinator guild, although they are less effective than bees and hoverflies which feed on both nectar and pollen.

Buzz pollination

A strategy employed by certain species of bumblebee in which flight muscles are contracted to produce vibrations that release pollen packed tightly into the plant’s anthers. Most other insects are unable to access this pollen, making bumblebees the exclusive pollinator for plants that store their pollen in this way.

Cleptoparasitism

A form of parasitism in which an animal steals the food of another animal, whether caught, collected, or otherwise prepared. Cuckoo bees show cleptoparasitic behaviour by laying their eggs on the pollen stored by other bees to feed their young.

Cuckoo bees

Bee species that invade the nest of another species and steal on their food provisions. Cuckoo bees will replace the host’s egg or larvae with their own.

Cultivar

Cultivated plants that have been selected for certain desirable characteristics, such as aesthetic appeal (ornamental flowers) or increased yield (agricultural crops).

Double flower

Flower varieties with extra petals. Many popular commercial flower types are double-flowered, including roses and carnations. Their value for pollinators is limited, as the floral mutation restricts access to nectar.

Drone

Males in a social bee, wasp or ant colony.

Ecosystem services

The human benefits derived from ecosystems. These are commonly divided into four categories: Provisioning (e.g. of food and water), regulating (e.g. climate control), supporting (e.g. pollination) and cultural (e.g. recreational benefits).

Ecotype

A distinct geographic variety, population or race within a species adapted to particular environmental conditions.

Entomology

The scientific study of insects.

Eusociality

A very high level of sociality among animals. Eusocial animal communities are characterised by cooperative brood care shared among non-reproductive individuals, as well as a division of labour. Honey bees, most bumblebees and some wasp species all display eusociality.

Foraging

The collection of pollen or nectar for food.

Herbicide

Also known as weedkillers, herbicides are chemical substances used to control unwanted plants. In agriculture, selective herbicides can destroy specific weed species while leaving the crop unharmed. Herbicides are a type of pesticide.

Hibernation

A state of inactivity that some species go into to survive the winter months. Hibernating animals lower their body temperature and slow their breathing, heart and metabolic rate.

Honey bee

Any bee member of the genus Apis. They distinguish themselves from other bee species by the production of honey and the construction of colonies made of wax in which the queen and her daughters will live all year round (perennial colonies). The European honey bee (Apis mellifera) is the only honey bee species found in Europe, including the UK.

Hoverfly

Members of the insect family Syrphidae. They are often seen hovering over flowers in suspended motion and feed on nectar and pollen, making them important pollinators. Most hoverflies mimic the black and yellow stripe pattern of various bee and wasp species.

Imago

The final (adult) stage of insects undergoing metamorphosis, following the pupal stage.

Insecticide

Substances used to kill insects, mainly for the sake of crop protection. They have the capacity to significantly alter ecosystems and some are feared to have unwanted effects on non-target species, e.g. neonicotinoids and their allegedly harmful effects on bees.

Larva

The juvenile stage some animals undergo before reaching adulthood. Larvae often have different habitat and food requirements from adults.

Landscape-scale conservation

Unlike site-based conservation, landscape-scale conservation is concerned with the interconnectedness between areas of high conservation value. It also takes into consideration human factors such as culture, history and local economies for a more holistic approach. This has gained increasing prominence as a response to climate change.

Monolectic

A foraging strategy in which bees obtain pollen from only a single plant.

Mutualism

A relationship between two organisms of different species in which each organism benefits from the activity of the other.

Nectar

A sugary liquid produced by plants which provides pollinators with an important energy source. It is also the sugar source used by bees in the production of honey.

Oligolectic

A foraging strategy in which bees obtain pollen from a narrow range of plants.

Parasitism

A relationship between two species in which one species (the parasite) benefits at the expense of the other (the host). Varroa destructor, a parasitic mite that attacks honey bees, is an example of parasitism in the pollinator world.

Perennial

Plants that survive for many growing seasons. Some, though not all, keep their leaves all year round.

Pesticide

An umbrella term that includes all substances used to attract and eliminate pests. It is very commonly used in agriculture to protect plants from pests such as weeds, fungi, and insects.

Pollen

A powdery substance containing pollen grains, which produce male sperm cells. Pollen is transferred from the anther of a flower to the stigma of another flower (cross-pollination) or the stigma of the same flower (self-pollination). Pollinators rely on pollen as a source of protein.

Pollination

The process by which pollen is transferred to the female reproductive organs, or stigma, of a seed plant. Pollination can be aided by biotic factors, such as pollinating insects, as well as abiotic factors such as wind.

Pollinator

Animals that help pollinate plants by dispersing their pollen. In the UK, insects account for all pollination, including bees, butterflies, wasps and hoverflies. In other parts of the world, vertebrates such as bats or birds also help pollinate plants.

Polylectic

A foraging strategy in which bees obtain pollen from a large number of plants.

Pupa

The developmental stage between the larval stage and adulthood. During this time, adult features are formed and larval features break down.

Solitary bee

Unlike honey bees, solitary bees do not live in colonies and do not produce honey or beeswax, though they are important pollinators. There are more than 200 species of solitary bees in the UK.

Species abundance

The relative representation of a species within a biological community, measured by the number of individuals per species.

Species diversity

Determined by species richness (a count of the different species within a biological community) as well as species evenness (a quantified indication of differences between species abundances).

Species richness

The number of species within a biological community.

Stigma

The top of the female part of a flower. The stigma receives pollen, and it is here that the pollen grains germinate.

Strain

Floral offspring descending from modified plants or appearing as a result of genetic mutation.

Trivoltine

Species with three nesting cycles and flight periods per year such as the winter-active buff-tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris.

Univoltine

Species with one nesting cycle and flight period per year.

Wasp

All insects of the order Hymenoptera and the sub-order Apocrita that are neither bees nor ants. Some wasp species, like the well-known yellow jackets, are eusocial, although the majority of wasps are solitary and parasitoidal. Female wasps are capable of stinging and, unlike bees, will not die thereafter.