The ‘lazy’ mower approach can help pollinators

Procrastination in the spring and a little less mowing in the summer can be virtues when it comes to helping pollinators, researchers have found.

The University of Vermont suggests delaying spring mowing so flowers like dandelions can provide early-season food resources for pollinators. These food sources are important for pollinators such as bumblebees, mason bees and others that begin to appear in March.

According to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, early spring mowing can also destroy any pupae still clinging to last year’s grass and any overwintering shelter for pollinators appearing later.

“Dandelions are weeds for some homeowners, but for foraging bees they can be a welcome treat in otherwise barren urban lawns,” said Jon Zawislak, assistant professor of beekeeping and urban entomology, for the division. from the University of Arkansas Agriculture System.

Zawislak said flowers in the dianthus family are very good sources of pollen, as are those of Virginia creeper. Clovers and lilies are also good spring sources for pollinators.

“While most people never notice the tiny flowers on this ubiquitous climbing weed, the bees certainly do,” he said. “Holly is another plant with small flowers that are easily overlooked, but it’s starting to bloom right now and can be covered in bees on a hot day.”


“At the beginning of the season, flowering trees are very important sources of pollen for bees,” he said. “In particular, maples, willows and ashes provide lots of nutrients, even though we don’t see them as having showy flowers.”

“A lot of things in the Rosaceae family, like pears, crabapples and wild plums, bloom briefly in the spring but with plenty of flowers for the bees,” Zawislak said. “The exception is the Bradford pear, which no one seems to like, except maybe people who build car parks. They are fast-growing trees, which makes them weak and unattractive to pollinators, and provide no edible fruit later for birds or other wildlife.


As summer rolls around and the urge to mow more frequently increases, ignore it.

“Research published by the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the US Forest Service suggests that homeowners can help support bee habitat in suburban environments simply by changing lawn mowing habits,” it said. he declares. Investigators have found that taking a ‘lazy lawnmower’ approach and mowing every two weeks rather than once a week could help encourage bee habitat in suburban lawns by allowing flowers to bloom. , which helps provide pollinators with more nutritious forage.”

Research ecologist Susannah Lerman and Joan Milam, UMass associate researcher and co-authors of the study “To mow or mow less: Lawn mowing frequency affects the abundance and diversity of bees in lawns suburban”.

Milam said she was amazed at both the diversity and abundance of bees their team documented in residential lawns. “It speaks to the value of untreated grass in supporting wildlife,” she said.

Research ecologist Susannah Lerman said the findings are “a reminder that sustainability starts at home and, in this case, means doing less for more buzz”.

The Cooperative Extension Service offers many beekeeping resources online or contact your county extension office.

To learn more about Agriculture Division research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk. To learn more about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit

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