Herbicide Use Can Increase Bumblebee Populations

Bumblebees play a crucial role in crop and wildflower pollination. One way to increase bumblebee populations would be to increase the number of wildflowers growing in grassy strips around crop fields. Recent research in the UK has shown that by sowing wildflowers around crop fields where grasses have been suppressed with herbicides, bumblebee populations increase.

“The benefit of applying graminicide [herbicide targeting grasses] was confirmed by a significant increase in sown wildflower cover. This supports previous work showing that graminicide applications can reduce levels of competitive grasses and promote the development of wildflowers.”

“This study has demonstrated that wildflowers can be successfully introduced into existing grass buffer strips when managed with a combination of cultivation, seed and graminicide, producing greater bumblebee abundances than existing conventionally managed strips.”

Authors: Robin J. Blake et al.
Affiliation: Center for Agri-Environmental Research, University of Reading, UK
Title: Enhancing habitat to help the plight of the bumblebee.
Publication: Pest Management Science (2011) 67:377-379.

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