Study

Sown annual and perennial wildflower mixtures attract a wide range of flower-visiting insects at Rothamsted Research Hertfordshire and ADAS Bridgets Research Centre, Hampshire, England

  • Published source details Carreck N.L., Williams I.H. & Oakley J.N. (1999) Enhancing farmland for insect pollinators using flower mixtures. Aspects of Applied Biology, 54, 101-108

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Leave arable field margins uncropped with natural regeneration

Action Link
Bee Conservation

Sow uncropped arable field margins with a native wild flower seed mix

Action Link
Bee Conservation

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Plant dedicated floral resources on farmland

Action Link
Bee Conservation

Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Plant nectar flower mixture/wildflower strips

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Leave arable field margins uncropped with natural regeneration

    Nine bee species were recorded on a single naturally regenerated field margin strip established for three years at ADAS Bridgets Research Centre, Hampshire, England in 1998 (Carreck et al. 1999), the same number of species as on three strips sown with a diverse wildflower seed mix in the same study.

  2. Sow uncropped arable field margins with a native wild flower seed mix

    Nine bee species were recorded on three field margin strips sown with a diverse grass and wildflower seed mix established for three years at the ADAS Bridgets Research Centre, Hampshire, England in 1998 (Carreck et al. 1999). The same number of species was recorded on a single naturally regenerated field margin strip in the same study.

  3. Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture

    A replicated trial from 1995 to 1998 in Hampshire, UK (Carreck et al. 1999) recorded fewer flowering plant species, bee (Apidae), fly (Diptera) and butterfly (Lepidoptera) species on a single field margin strip sown with wild bird cover seed mix established for three years compared to three strips sown with a diverse wildflower seed mix. There were 20 flowering plant species, eight bee (Apidae), three fly (Diptera) and three butterfly (Lepidoptera) species on the single field margin strip sown with wild bird cover seed mix established for three years in 1998, and 24, nine, seven and eight plant, bee, butterfly and fly species respectively on three wildflower seed mix strips in the same study. The wild bird mix strip had more plant species but fewer bee, fly and butterfly species than a single naturally regenerated field margin strip (16, nine, four and six plant, bee, butterfly and fly species respectively on the naturally regenerated strip). The field margins were established or sown in 1995. Numbers of inflorescences or flowers and flower-visiting bees, wasps (Hymenoptera), flies and butterflies were counted on a 200 x 2 m transect in each strip, once a month from May to August 1998.

     

  4. Plant dedicated floral resources on farmland

    Carreck et al. (1999) recorded 15 species of bee visiting flowers over two summers, in four plots of six annual flowering plant species at Rothamsted Research, Hertfordshire, England. Short-tongued bumblebees buff-tailed and red-tailed (Bombus terrestris/lucorum and B. lapidarius/ruderarius) were the most abundant wild bee visitors, and bees were most numerous on phacelia, borage and (second year only) cornflower Centaurea cyanus.

  5. Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields

    A trial from 1995 to 1998 in Hampshire, UK (Carreck et al. 1999) found the same number of bee (Apidae) species (9), but fewer flowering plant, fly (Diptera) and butterfly (Lepidoptera) species, on a single naturally regenerated field margin strip established for three years than on three strips sown with a diverse wildflower seed mix in the same study (16, 4 and 6 species respectively on the naturally regenerated margin vs 24, 7 and 8 species on the sown margins). The field margins were established (or sown) in 1995. The number of flowers and flower-visiting bees, wasps, flies and butterflies were counted on a 200 x 2 m transect in each strip, once a month from May to August 1998.

     

  6. Plant nectar flower mixture/wildflower strips

    Two replicated trials from 1995 to 1998 in Hertfordshire and Hampshire, UK (Carreck et al. 1999) monitored flower-visiting insects on sown flower strips. One trial (Hampshire 1995-1998) found more flower-visiting insect species and plant species on strips sown with a wildflower mix than on a naturally regenerated margin or a margin sown with wild bird cover mix in 1998. One trial (Hertfordshire 1996-1997) found plots sown with six annual plant species were visited by 39 invertebrate species (including bees Apidae, flies Diptera and butterflies Lepidoptera) in the summers after sowing. Wildflower strips attracted 24 invertebrate species, compared to 14 and 19 species on the wild bird strip and naturally regenerated strip respectively. There were 24 flowering plant species on the wildflower strips, compared to 20 and 16 on the wild bird strip and naturally regenerated strip (Hampshire). Five plant species attracted many insects or species: wild carrot Daucus carota, black knapweed Centaurea nigra, oxeye daisy Leucanthemum vulgare, bird’s-foot trefoil Lotus corniculatus and black medick Medicago lupulina. Butterflies only visited phacelia Phacelia tanacetifolia, borage Borago officinalis and marigold Calendula officinalis out of six plant species sown in the Hertfordshire study. Short-tongued bumblebees, buff-tailed Bombus terrestris/lucorum and red-tailed bumblebees B. lapidarius/ruderarius, were the most abundant wild bee visitors, and bees were most numerous on phacelia, borage and (second year only) cornflower Centaurea cyanus. Five field margin strips were established in the Hampshire study in 1995, three sown with perennial grass and wildflower mix, one with wild bird mix, one naturally regenerated. In the Hertfordshire study, four plots were sown with six annual plant species in 1996 and 1997. In both studies, the number of flowers, flower-visiting bees, wasps (Hymenoptera), flies and butterflies were counted (monthly from May-August 1998 in Hampshire study, several times a week in Hertfordshire study). The Hertfordshire study was part of the same study as (Carreck & Williams 2002).

     

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