Nectar and pollen are essential food sources for pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hoverflies. Nectar is essentially sugar water – insects drink it and the sugar gives them the energy to fly to find a mate or to start a nest. Nearly all pollinators drink nectar, including bees, butterflies, flies and wasps.
Pollen is protein. Bees gather pollen to feed their young, which they need to grow. Studies have shown that the larger and more robust bumblebee adults were fed more pollen when they were grubs. Pollen is therefore essential for the health and vitality of adult bumblebees. The quality of pollen varies from flower to flower – leguminous flowers, such as those of peas, beans, clover and vetches, has the best quality pollen, which makes for even healthier adult bees.