Pollinators play a crucial role in global crop production. Almost 80% of crop plants rely on the services of pollinators such as bees, wasps, ants, butterflies and birds. The services these animals provide have been estimated to be worth in excess of $3 trillion annually! Even in recreational and home gardens, pollinators help to pollinate flowers and plants, which contributes to significant boosts in flower, vegetable, and fruit yields. Even lawns benefit from the presence of pollinators – pollinated lawns become more resilient to environmental pressures. Beyond that, turning lawns into a pollinators’ habitat is a socially and morally responsible thing to do, especially in light of the mysterious disappearances of worker bees – which has become quite the crisis! In light of all this, it comes as no surprise that many lawn owners are changing their lawn care routine to attract more pollinators.
Creating Bee-Friendly Lawns
We all love well-trimmed lawns. It’s become a part of suburban life for lawns to be mowed every weekend. However, studies have shown that reducing mowing frequency can have a positive effect on attracting bees and other pollinators. Mowing lawns on three-week intervals can even boost lawn flower production by as much as 2.5 times! A three-week interval will allow grass to develop flower heads, which will attract pollinators. The longer grass will also improve moisture retention, which is beneficial to both the grass and the pollinators. If three weeks sounds too long for your liking, consider mowing a single dedicated part of the lawn less frequently compared to the rest. This will still leave a habitat that bees can flock to.
Choose the Right Flowers and Plants
Most lawns have flower beds and even hedges on their boundaries. Improve the attraction of the flowers and plants by planting native species that bees are known to love. For flowers and herbs, choose species which contain comparatively higher level of nectar. This includes English lavender, wallflower (Erysimum), zinnias, rosemary, and basil. Mix up the colours – bees are attracted to bright and bold colours! For plants, consider caltrop, rabbitbrush, creeping thyme and wild buckwheat – these plants are probably like KFC for bees! It’s important to include perennials in your flower and plant selection to ensure there is always something to attract pollinators to your lawn, even in the dead of winter.
Other Strategies to Attract Bees to Your Lawn
If you’re getting excited at the prospect of becoming a saviour to the bees, here are a couple more ways you can attract them to the lawn.
- Build bee hotels: If you have a dead tree in or around your lawn, trim off the branches (for safety), and drill multiple holes on a few thick branches. They won’t build a hive on a dead tree, so you needn’t be concerned about that. However, the holes might serve as temporary shelters for them.
- Don’t use pesticides: Bees don’t like the smell and taste of pesticide. Even if they are desperate, they will eventually die from chemical poisoning from the contaminated nectar and moisture.
The results won’t be immediate, particularly if your lawn has no flowers or plants. However, your actions will undeniably help to improve the local ecosystem. If Aristaeus, the Greek god of Beekeeping, actually exists, you will definitely receive his blessings!