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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Uncropped field margins support more bees than conservation headlands in UK farmland

Published source details

Kells A.R., Holland J.M. & Goulson D. (2001) The value of uncropped field margins for foraging bumblebees. Journal of Insect Conservation, 5, 283-291


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Leave field margins unsprayed within the crop (conservation headlands) Bee Conservation

Kells et al. (2001) counted bumblebees Bombus spp. and honey bees Apis mellifera on 50 m transects in five 6 m wide field margins managed as conservation headlands, and ten naturally regenerated, uncropped field margins in the West Midlands, England. They recorded averages of less than three bees/transect in conservation headlands, compared to averages of between 10 and 50 bees/transect in naturally regenerated margins.

Leave arable field margins uncropped with natural regeneration Bee Conservation

A replicated controlled trial of UK arable field margins allowed to regenerate naturally for one year found that they supported significantly more honey bees and bumblebees than unsprayed cropped margins managed as conservation headlands (averages between 10 and 50 bees/transect on naturally regenerated margins compared to <3 bees/transect in conservation headlands; Kells et al. 2001).

Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields Farmland Conservation

A replicated controlled trial in 1999 of arable field margins in the UK (Kells et al. 2001) found that margins allowed to regenerate naturally for one year supported significantly more honey bees Apis spp. and bumblebees Bombus spp. than unsprayed cropped margins managed as conservation headlands (average 10-50 bees/transect on naturally regenerated margins compared to <3 bees/transect in conservation headlands). The trial was replicated once on each of five farms, with two uncropped field margins and one control conservation headland margin per farm. Margins were 4-6 m wide and located on the boundary of spring-sown cereal fields. Transects (0.5 x 50 m2) parallel to the field edge were walked at 8-10 day intervals over a 40-day period in each margin to record bee numbers, species and flower preferences.

 

Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands) Farmland Conservation

A replicated controlled trial in 1999 on five arable farms in the West Midlands, UK (Kells et al. 2001) found fewer bees (Apidae) on conservation headlands compared to naturally regenerated margins (average less than three bees/transect in conservation headlands vs averages of 10-50 bees/transect in naturally regenerated margins. Bumblebees Bombus spp. and honey bees Apis mellifera were counted on 50 m transects in five 6 m-wide field margins managed as conservation headlands, and ten naturally regenerated, uncropped field margins between 29 June and 9 August. Two unsown margins and one conservation headland were created on each farm.