Do you feel guilty because you don’t mow your lawn as often as you probably should? Worried about what the neighbors will think? If you’re the type to let your grass grow a little, relax. It turns out you might be doing a favor for the environment.
According to new research, mowing your lawn every two weeks as opposed to every week helps increase bee populations by as much as 30 percent. The research, published in the journal Biological Conservation, found that lawns that were mowed less often had more dandelions and clover, which provide pollen and nectar for bees and other pollinators.
While you may be thinking that fewer bees is inherently a good thing, they’re actually important to a thriving ecosystem. Bee populations have been on the decline for years due to habitat loss and pesticide use. Because bees are pollinators, they help sustain agricultural production. Bees pollinate about one-third of the planets we eat, which is valued at $168 billion per year worldwide.
“Everything falls apart if you take pollinators out of the game,” University of Maryland bee expert Dennis van Engelsdorp told the Associated Press in 2016. “If we want to say we can feed the world in 2050, pollinators are going to be part of that.”
But this is a problem that people can take steps to solve. In addition to simply mowing your lawn less often, some people are going so far as to put beehives in their homes. There are a number of safety feature that prevent the bees from escaping into people’s homes.
Other small ways to help protect bee populations include planting bee-friendly flowers and reducing or eliminating the use of herbicides and pesticides in your garden. You can also support smaller, local, organic farms that tend to support better bee health.
Buying certified organic cotton, growing some of your own food and buying honey from local beekeepers can all help as well.
On a larger level, you can also support legislation that protects bees.