Land management to support bees and other insect pollinators

Resource explained

This short Bees for Development factsheet clearly describes simple actions you can carry out on your farm to encourage wild flower diversity and provide forage for bees and other insect pollinators.
It outlines that in addition to planting seeds of wild flowers, it is the cutting or grazing regime of meadows, field margins and verges that determines the diversity and number of wild flowers. This is to such an extent that planting seeds without the correct cutting regime will have short-lived results.
The factsheet describes the principles that govern cutting or grazing regimes and ways in which hay meadows, unimproved grassland, grass verges, municipal roundabouts, field margins and patches of garden or orchard can be managed to benefit flowering vegetation and insect pollinators.
It also includes a few useful Frequently Asked Questions in relation to encouraging wild flowers (which includes reference to yellow rattle), and links to other relevant information.

Findings & recommendations

  • In order to encourage insect pollinators, any cutting should be carried out early and late in the year. Make sure you allow flowering herbaceous plants to grow, flower and seed in spring and summer, and remove cut vegetation to reduce the fertility of the soil.
  • You should aim to encompass the following principles:
    • Do not cut when flowers are growing, flowering and seeding.
    • Ensure you cut often enough to discourage scrub such as bramble and unwanted tree saplings.
    • Remove cut vegetation (including that cut for hay if the hay cannot be used) in order to reduce the fertility of the site. This discourages prolific grass growth and gives a wider variety of wild flowers the chance to thrive and provide pollen and nectar to insect pollinators.
    • Cut on a high setting to allow plants with spreading, low habits to continue to flower.
  • If you have an area of established unimproved grassland with a management regime and native species mix that dates back many years, you should not plough and seed with introduced species, but instead maintain through cutting and /or grazing.
  • Yellow rattle can increase species diversity and encourage colonisation of other wildflower species.

Associated Agricology Partner Organisation(s):

Related articles

Could farming with trees help to control pests and boost pollinators?

Can farmers control pests without pesticides, and pollinate their crops without honey bees? All while making money out of it? Agroforestry, which is basically farming...

Providing for pollinators – what’s the buzz?

Pollinators have become something of a ‘buzz’ word since the launch of the National Pollinator Strategy in 2014. Farmers have gone to great efforts through...

Bees’ Needs: food and a home

A short video of why we need pollinators and they need us. What simple actions can we take to help reduce the many threats pollinators...

Field Guide to Common Bumblebees of the United Kingdom.

An identification guide to eight of the UK’s most common bumblebees, vital pollinators for our food crops and wild flowers.

It’s not just about the bees

Organic vegetable farmer Andy Dibben puts forward the case for allowing complex insect ecosystems to develop or be proactively encouraged on farms, describing ways in...

Management for bumblebees

Bumblebees in the UK; their importance, their requirements, and how farmers can help bring back the bumblebee.

Plants that are valuable for bees and other insect pollinators

A Bees for Development factsheet providing useful information to help you integrate insect beneficial plants on your farm.

Study shows bee-friendly crops create a hungry gap for rarer bees

An article highlighting the importance of ensuring our flowering habitats and how we manage them provide for wider bee and wasp communities.

The importance of bees and other insect pollinators

Insect pollinators: their pollination techniques, foraging behaviour and relevance in relation to crops, flowering plants, and biodiversity.

Managing farmland for pollinators

Simple steps that farmers can take to halt the decline of bees and other insect pollinators in Wales, relevant to the British Isles.
To top