You have probably heard of “No Mow May” especially if you are located near Appleton, Wisconsin. No Mow May is an initiative that started in Appleton to reduce or eliminate mowing during the month of May to protect and promote pollinators coming out of winter in urban and suburban areas. This initiative could easily be applied to commercial fruit production to foster pollinators around fruit crops.
As bees emerge from the winter months, their first priority is to find food.
You have most likely seen bumble bees flying around in April/May depending on the temperatures. These bumble bees are larger than the typical bumble bees (Figure 1) we see later in the summer. That is because bumble bees overwinter as mated female or queens underground, under logs or in other protected areas. Other bees may overwinter as immatures (egg, larvae or pupae) and emerge as adult bees in the Spring. Regardless of what stage they spend the winter in, when temperatures warm up in the spring, bees come out, ready to eat some food and start a new nest (Figure 2). This is a very critical time for spring bees as they’re emerging from cold winter months and few floral resources are available at this time. Providing resources for these early bees will thus have a tremendous impact on their progeny and the overall ensuing bee populations in the spring and summer by boosting bee populations.
The first flowers to bloom at this time of year are often not desirable in lawns and perhaps not valued enough on fruit farm floors: dandelions, clovers, violet flowers, creeping Charlie, etc. Letting dandelions, violets, clovers, etc. bloom early in the season will provide floral resources (pollen and nectar) Spring bees desperately need. A recent study conducted in Appleton WI showed that no mow May residences had three times more species of bees and five times higher bee abundance than frequently mowed green spaces (Del Toro and Ribbons, 2020). So refrain from mowing, enjoy the spring and let the flowers bloom, the bees will come soon!
Del Toro I, Ribbons RR. 2020. No Mow May lawns have higher pollinator richness and abundances: An engaged community provides floral resources for pollinators. PeerJ 8:e10021 http://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.10021This article was posted in Insects and tagged Christelle Guédot, insects, native bees, native pollinators, pollinators.