Pollinators are important for many crop types (e.g. wikipedia list), but I am wondering how important the crops are to feed the pollinator. Obviously, some of the crop plants provide much more food than others, and the plants that depend on pollinators for their reproduction will be likely to attract the pollinators with pollen, nectar, or both. But I am not sure that I can use the dependance on pollinator as an accurate estmator of the quantity of nectar that is actually available for pollinator.

I can think of the rapeseed as being very rich in nectar, but are there other "nectar rich" flowers ? For instance, what about sunflower, potatoes, peas ,sugar beet, mustard, flax, lucern, clover, maize, wheat...

To sum up, I would like to have a list of the most common European cultivated plants that produce a reasonalble amount of nectar accessible to insect pollinators. (rem : I've asked a similar question about pollen, and maybe the answer is the same, but as far as I understood some plants have more pollen and some plants have more nectar.)

  • $\begingroup$ That doesn't answer your question directly but it's worth noticing that – independently of their nutritional value – crops are a problem for pollinators since monoculture is an all-or-nothing regime. By which I mean : a few weeks when food is plentiful yet totally absent during the rest of the year. Characteristics of the supply during the all-you-can-eat weeks is only a side topic. Hence the insistance on biodiversity in agricultural settings. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 12:54
  • $\begingroup$ thank you for your remark. I understand that the a large quantity at one date is not enough to sustain a population of pollinators, but I can find data about the flowering period and the landscape diversity. I find it more difficult to find data about pollen/nectar production during the flowering period (if any). $\endgroup$
    – radouxju
    Commented Oct 27, 2019 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ What about trees? in apple producing regions in the US, they have to bring over hundreds of bee hives to pollinate the trees, there was info on it in a program about monocultures. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ trees are indeed part of the whole picture, but I've tried not to be too broad. And I already have some info about trees (in monoculture or in diversified hedges $\endgroup$
    – radouxju
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 10:27

2 Answers 2

  • Lacy phacelia or purple tansy (Phacelia tanacetifolia), which can be planted any time of year due to its short growing season. After flowering, it is plowed into the ground to enrich the soil with humus
  • All types of clovers: excellent nectar plants that plowed after flowering and enrich the soil with nitrogen, or scythe them and use as feed for animals
  • Sunflowers: after flowering, they greatly enhance the structure of soil and enrich it with hummus
  • Rapeseed and poppy
  • Buckwheat: planted it in summer and when it fades, the seeds and ground into flour

Scroll to page 13 (Appendix II). Here you will find a list of all significant nectar-producing plants in Europe

Scroll to page 21 for average nectar production (mg sugar/day/flower) of important agricultural crop flowers

Melliferous potential of twenty-seven plant families determined from the N data sets recorded in thirty-eight papers ranked by decreasing median values - scroll to page 5 under Table 1)

The google keywords you are looking for are along the lines of: "melliferous potential of agricultural crops in europe" and variants of this



This link should answer your doubts concerning such plants. Asking for a list concerning whole Europe feels something a little bit out of reach considering how diverse the environment is there, this link concerns mainly the UK, albeit you have to consider that a wide gamut of species concerns various different territories with similar climate, thus many plants listed there can be found easily elsewhere.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ thank you for your answer. This is an interesting link but I am looking for this kind of data in the case of the main (in terms of area coverage) crop plants. $\endgroup$
    – radouxju
    Commented Oct 27, 2019 at 20:15

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