CITY gardens have become safe spaces for bees driven off farm land due to pesticides and lack of flowers, scientists have said.

A study has found that green spaces such as gardens and allotments in towns and cities could become important refuges for insect species which face threats such as pest control on agricultural land and reductions in natural flower-rich habitats.

Results from the four-year study, carried out by the Universities of Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds and Reading in collaboration with the University of Cardiff, were published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Professor Graham Stone, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Biological Sciences, who took part in the study, said: “Pollinating insects are vital to supporting plant life, and urban spaces can play a key role in providing environments where these creatures can flourish.

“Gardens can account for up to one-third of the area of towns and cities. The more flowers we plant at home, the better it is for bees, butterflies and other insects.”