Organic management supports wild bees

photo credit: Jason Blackeye

A recent study published in Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment found that more resources for pollinators, more wild bees, and more types of bees were found on organic wheat farms compared with conventional. This was especially true when farm sizes were smaller. Across all study farms, researchers found over 81 different species of wild bees, and organic farms had roughly 30% more bees than conventional farms. The authors suggest this is because herbicides are not used with organic wheat management, which allows more vegetation to grow on the field margins. These organic farms have more flowering plants and a greater diversity of those plants, which supports a greater number and diversity of bees. This study shows how growing a crop that doesn’t rely on pollinators and wouldn’t normally support pollinators can still be an important resource when plants in the margins are allowed to grow and bloom.