The authors suggest more flowers should be grown in parks and on roadside verges to help pollinators.

London - Garden snobbery is not the sole preserve of proud homeowners trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Even bees prefer visiting middle-class gardens to slumming it in nature reserves and parks, according to a study.

This could be because they tend to have a wider variety of flowers that are rich in pollen. Favourites include lavender, marigolds, buttercups and ox-eye daisies.

Researchers counted pollinators, including hoverflies, in Bristol, Reading, Edinburgh and Leeds to see which types of urban land they preferred.

They found bee numbers in allotments and gardens are up to 52 times higher than in more developed areas such as car parks and industrial estates. But it was the gardens of people with higher incomes that were the most popular with pollinators.

Professor Graham Stone, a co-author of the study from the University of Edinburgh, said: "We know middle-class gardens have more flowers, which bees prefer because they can access more pollen. Bees communicate with nest-mates about the gardens and bring them back with them."

He added: "It may be that middle-class people are particularly interested in gardening, have more time or are able to spend more on flowers, but we did find their gardens were more appealing to pollinators." 

Researchers looked at ten gardens in each city, including those at low-income and high-income homes. Even when wealthier gardens did not have more flowers, they attracted more bees.

This could be because they have more attractive flowers or better "hiding places" for the pollinators such as bird boxes and the underneath of sheds. The study says less affluent householders could be given free seeds or gardening demonstrations to help them attract bees to their homes.

The study, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, found that besides gardens, allotments and cemeteries are also good for pollinators and it is not just colourful flowers that draw them in.

Across the four cities, dandelions, common hogweed and brambles were among the plants that attracted the most pollinating insects.

The authors suggest more flowers should be grown in parks and on roadside verges to help pollinators.

Dr Katherine Baldock, who led the study from the University of Bristol, said: "By understanding the impact of each urban land use on pollinators… we can make cities better places for pollinators."

Daily Mail