Concrete jungles may not be the obvious places for nature to thrive, but bees often fare better in urban areas than in modern farmland, research conducted by the University of Worcester has indicated.
Honey bees foraging in cities and towns were found to be visiting a wider range of flowers than those in rural areas.
The findings emerged after the researchers analysed pollen samples from 10 National Trust beehives around the UK to see which flowers the bees were feeding on and whether there was a link between the pollen and the health of the bees.
At Kensington Palace in London, the samples contained large amounts of pollen from rock rose, eucalyptus and elderberry and in suburban sites, such as at the university, there was a lot of pollen from lily, blackberry and rowan trees, and also some from oilseed rape.
But at some of the hives at rural National Trust locations, including Nostell Priory in Yorkshire and Barrington Court in Somerset, the samples were heavily dominated by oilseed rape with little other pollen types detectable.
Different flowers can provide different levels of nutrition and bees feeding entirely on commercial crops may be more susceptible to any potential negative effects of agriculture sprays, the researchers said.
Matthew Oates, National Trust nature conservation adviser, said: "These are interesting early findings, seemingly backing what we've suspected for a while - namely that bees today often fare better in urban environments than in contemporary farmland."
Further analysis of the bees' health will be carried out next spring.
The hives analysed so far are among 45 involved in the Bee Part Of It project by the National Trust and BBC local radio, investigating if there is any link between pollen and the health of the bees. The research was carried out between June and early August.