The OSU Research Retinue reviews a research study that garnered a fair amount of press this month on the connection between lawn mowing frequency and bee abundance and diversity. The study, led by Susannah Lerman from USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, compared the bees visiting lawns mowed weekly, every two or three weeks. The two year study was published in the May issue of the journal Biological Conservation.
This week’s Research Retinue consisted of OSU undergraduates Addison DeBoer (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), Matthew Bucy (Environmental Sciences) and Umayyah Wright (Environmental Sciences). Special thanks to Isabella Messer (Horticulture) who helped the group research the paper (check out Isabella’s bee blog entries).
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The OSU Research Retinue (counter-clockwise): Isabella Messer, Matthew Bucy, Umayyah Wright and Addison Deboer.
“I feel the general public won’t have time to read this paper and it would be great to have a simple message summarizing the findings on social media”. – Umayyah Wright
“So, say you are approached by someone – walking on the street – and they heard about the article but have no time to read it what would you tell them the one important take away of this paper?” – Matthew Bucy
“Don’t go for more that three weeks without mowing your lawn because the grass will get too long for the bees, which almost the opposite of the final line of the paper of taking the “lazy lawnmower” approach. But mowing once a week had more species richness and mowing twice a week had more bee abundance compared to mowing the lawn every three weeks”. – Addison DeBoer
- How the study was conducted and what was measured
- What the study found was best for bee populations in lawn maintenance
- What key elements are most important in increasing and maintaining pollinator health
- How researchers can improve the study for next time, and what they got right
- Why homeowners should consider changing their mowing habits to better suit pollinator health
- Why this study is very important for busy homeowners
- What people without lawns can do to help the local pollinator habitat
- Which is more important: bee richness or bee abundance
- What the Research Retinue would improve in the next study similar to this one
- Read the article: Lerman, S. B., Contosta, A. R., Milam, J., & Bang, C. (2018). To mow or to mow less: Lawn mowing frequency affects bee abundance and diversity in suburban yards. Biological Conservation, 221, 160-174.
- Check out how different publications covered the study:
- Find out more about using the lawn to benefit pollinators: