Less Lawn Mowing = More Bees

When it comes to improving habitat for beleaguered native bee species, doing less may accomplish more. New research by the USDA Forest Service and partners funded by the National Science Foundation found that mowing the lawn less frequently can significantly improve pollinator habitat. Susannah Lerman, a research ecologist with the USDA Forest Service’s Northern Research Station, and her collaborators explored whether different lawn mowing frequencies (1, 2 or 3 weeks) influenced bee abundance and diversity in herbicide-free suburban yards in Springfield, Massachusetts. Their study, “To mow or to mow less: Lawn mowing frequency affects bee abundance and diversity in suburban yards,” was published March 13 in the journal Biological Conservation and is available here. “Bees and other pollinators provide essential ecosystem services in agricultural and natural landscapes, and they are experiencing severe declines on a global scale,” said Tony Ferguson, Director of the Northern Research Station and the Forest Products Laboratory. “With this work, USDA Forest Service science and our collaborators are identifying ways that we can all contribute to improving bee habitat in our own back yards.” The research team found that while mowing every 3 weeks resulted in as much as 2.5 times more lawn flowers (aka dandelions and clover) and greater diversity of bee species, the abundance of bees was greatest when homeowners mowed every 2 weeks. [caption id="attach

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One thought on “Less Lawn Mowing = More Bees

  1. Sounds great but I have several concerns. First, our lawn mower is a cheaper riding mower which will not cut any higher than we have been mowing for years. To keep nutrients in place we use mulching blades which require more horsepower as the grass gets longer and clover gets thicker. Secondly, if we let the lawn grow that long and are successfully able to get through the tall and thick we would leave a mat of mulch which will choke out grass in spots. Lastly, to alleviate these concerns we would have to buy a more expensive mower with a deck which raises higher and has more horsepower. We cannot afford that option.

    So, am I missing some ideas to address these concerns without incurring additional costs?

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