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The effect of agri-environment schemes on bees on Shropshire farms

Journal For Nature Conservation

Abstract

The decline of bees and other invertebrate pollinators is cause for global concern, with modern intensive agriculture identified as a key driver. Government-run agri-environment schemes (AES) have the potential to restore the local landscape to benefit bees. Bee abundance, species richness and foraged plants were surveyed over a season on 18 farms in Shropshire, UK, classified into three treatment groups for comparison: Conventional, Entry-Level Stewardship AES (ELS), and Higher-Level Stewardship AES (HLS). Bee abundance and species diversity were significantly higher on AES-compliant farms: there were only small or non-significant differences between ELS- and HLS-compliant farms. ELS and HLS farms had higher diversity of floral foraging resources than conventionally managed farms. Cirsium, Heracleum sphondylium, and Rubus fruticosus were important resources for bees through the season. Synthesis and applications: These results highlight that key ELS actions, such as set-aside of uncultivated field margins, hedgerow restoration, late-cut meadows and sowing of nectar-rich flower mixes, are effective AES options to improve the landscape for bee communities. Many plants considered agricultural weeds are important forage resources for bees.Y

Author(s): Crowther, LI; Gilbert, F

Journal: Journal For Nature Conservation

Year: 2020

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