You’ll probably hear your neighbors complain and say nasty words behind your back if you keep your lawn unkempt, but bees will gladly thank you for it.
According to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, trimming the grass every two weeks instead of doing it weekly can help foster the habitat of bees in suburban yards. More time between mowings and letting the grass go rogue will protect lavender and daisies, which provide pollen for bees and other pollinators.
Susanna Lerman, the author of the new study, says that mowing less frequently is economical and practical, and it’s actually a great alternative if a homeowner doesn’t have time to set up a pollinator garden or replace the entire lawn.
“Sustainability begins at home,” Lerman says, adding that the recent findings will set a new standard for homeowners in terms of contributing to biodiversity. Small, individual steps towards a better environment will eventually result in bigger benefits.
Letting the grass grow is a good environment for wildflowers to grow, which provide more foraging habitat for local bees. One of the many problems that bees are plagued with is habitat loss due to urbanization. As amazing human development is, it sets a problem to the population of bees, which is dwindling in number for the past decade.
There is hope in grassy lawns, however, which are widespread in many cities, even in the most highly- developed ones. In the U.S. alone, altered landscapes cover 40 million acres of land. This huge number can greatly influence how bees thrive in cities, especially when people start practicing what Lerman calls the “lazy lawn mower” approach.
Lerman’s study was published in the journal Biological Conservation, which involved 16 homeowners with lawns in Springfield, Massachusetts. The homeowners were grouped into three teams, each having mowing frequencies. One group mowed their lawns once every three weeks, the next was assigned every two weeks, and the last group was asked to lawn every week. This happened within a span of two summers.
After the long wait, it turned out that mowing every three weeks resulted in 2.5 times more lawn flowers than in lawns that were manicured more often. However, it was on the lawns mowed every two weeks that had the most number of bees.
Preserving Bee Life
In the U.S., bees are responsible for about one in every three bites of food with a crop value of $15 billion to $18 billion. Seeing that bees play an important role in biodiversity and agriculture, preservation efforts have since been launched, and environmental groups are encouraging citizens to fight for the lives of bees worldwide.
A lot of apiary owners are also turning to supplementation aimed at bees, such as BeesVita Plus from makers Healthy Bees LLC. The principle is to treat bees like pets — we make sure they have the best possible environment to lengthen their life.
Since conserving native bees for their vital pollination services has become a national interest, environmentalists are also rallying for people to not treat lawns with week killers or any other herbicide.
While not all homeowners are willing to let their lawns go untrimmed, scientists suggest that planting native flowers at the edges can also help. Your landscaping will look just as pretty if wildflowers are arranged neatly. As a homeowner, it’s important to restore what little habitat you can for the sake of bee life. After all, the work of bees’ benefits all of mankind and animal life, too. Without pollinators, we won’t be able to enjoy the crops we’re so used to consume.