Tuesday, April 10, 2018 by Michelle Simmons
It’s better for bees if homeowners mow the yard less often, according to a study published in the journal Biological Conservation. The study, funded by the National Science Foundation, indicated that mowing the yard less often improves bee habitat.
The researchers conducted the study in order to determine whether different lawn mowing frequencies affected bee quantity and diversity in herbicide-free suburban yards in Springfield, Massachusetts. The experiment included 16 residential lawns in Springfield that were mowed every one, two, or three weeks.
Results revealed that when homeowners mowed every three weeks, there was as much as 2.5 times more lawn flowers, such as dandelions and clover, and greater diversity of bee species, in comparison to other frequencies. In addition, the abundance of bees was greatest when homeowners mowed every two weeks.
“Mowing less frequently can improve pollinator habitat and can be a practical, economical, and timesaving alternative to lawn replacement or even planting pollinator gardens,” said Susannah Lerman, a research ecologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service’s Northern Research Station.
The researchers documented 93 species of bees with supplemental observations arriving at 111 species of bees, which represent about a quarter of bee species recorded in Massachusetts. The researchers also found a bee that was not recorded in Massachusetts since the 1920s, yet is commonly found in Maryland.
“Cities may harbor even more diverse and abundant populations of native bees than nearby natural areas,” said Lerman.
Bees are more than just their sting and honey. Bees are responsible for pollination, a process in which they carry pollen from flower to flower. In fact, about 85 percent of all food crops for humans, as well as those fed to cattle, are pollinated by bees. Our options for nourishment would also be greatly lacking without bees. They help crops thrive and produce fruit, vegetables, flowers, nuts, seeds, beans, and others. According to research, environmental collapse could happen if honeybees no longer exist.
Bees play an essential role in the life cycle of many plants and flowers. There are also different species of bees that pollinate a single type of plant, and coexisting together with the lifespan of that plant. Bees also indicate when environmental hazards exist; mass bee deaths indicate the use of toxic chemicals, or severe climate changes.
Honeybees are essential as they are the only insect that produce a certain food consumed by humans – honey. The consumption of honey dates back centuries ago; the practice of harvesting honey from a hive were illustrated in Egyptian hieroglyphics. As a source of food, honey is a healthier alternative to high fructose corn syrup, which has been used in sweets and processed foods. Honey can be used in desserts, tea, or in baking.
Honey is also known for its various health benefits. Aside from nourishment, it is used for its healing properties. Honey contains propolis, a byproduct that can help fight bacteria and infection. Honey has also been discovered to relieve sore throat. In addition, it promotes skin health as it is said to clear the skin and soften wrinkles. (Related: Honey and its many benefits to overall health and wellness.)
Honeybees also produce beeswax, which is used to make the honeycombs that house honey. Humans use beeswax as an ingredient for various products, such as in furniture wax, beauty products, lip balm, chewing gum, and the waxy coating on rounds of cheese.
Read more news stories and studies on bees by going to Bees.news.