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Field-Edge Flower Strips and Organic Fields Both Prove Beneficial for Bee Habitat

Research published in the Journal of Applied Ecology by agroecologists at the University of Göttingen showed that flower strips and organic farming both encourage wild bee populations. The research team selected nine landscapes in the vicinity of Göttingen, Germany, along a gradient of increasing field size and then analyzed the wild bees and hoverflies in each landscape at the edge of an organic wheat field, in a flower strip along conventional wheat, and at the edge of a conventional wheat field without flower strips. The study found the most pollinators in the flower strips, but organic fields, characterized by more flowering wild plants than conventional fields, were also beneficial. Bumblebee colonies established on the margins of fields as part of the project produced more queens in flower strips when located in landscapes with small conventional fields. In contrast, large areas were particularly advantageous when it came to flower-rich organic fields. Researchers concluded that flower strips offer a high local density of pollen and nectar, but organic areas compensate for this by their increased area.