Trees can be better for bees than meadows, study claims

Intelligent planting of more hedgerows and trees could help UK bees thrive once again, a new study from Lancaster University argues.

Image: jay-jerry (CC-BY-2.0)
Image: jay-jerry (CC-BY-2.0)

Trees are more beneficial to bees and other pollinators because they offer greater food density – that is, they provide more flowers within a relatively small area on a blooming tree compared with flower meadows, the study point out.

Trees and hedgerows also provide nesting, overwintering and sheltered habitat – offering shelter during wind and rain, while also serving as landmarks to help pollinators navigate the landscape, it adds.

Study author Dr Philip Donkersley said: "By removing these key resources from the environment, and making insufficient efforts to replace them with wildflower strips, we are effectively starving our pollinators of food and places to nest."

He added: "Machine learning algorithms could be used to design landscapes that provide the best access to resources and the most information to pollinators, while at the same time taking up the least amount of space, time and money for land owners.

"This I hope will encourage easy-fixes for landowners on a strict budget who want to do the most efficient conservation effort for pollinators without breaking the bank."

The study is published in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment.

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